Writing in the Silence (or how I am becoming a more productive writer)

It's almost November, so writers of all sorts are scrambling to get ready for NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month). If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write a 50,000 word (or more) novel in the month of November. That averages to about 1,667 words a day. It's a fun challenge, and The Photograph was born out of NaNoWriMo. But I am not participating this year. I'm in the middle of revisions for two novels, so it doesn't make sense for me to put those down right now to start something new. But for those who may be trying NaNoWriMo for the first time, I thought I could send some tips your way to help with your productivity.

Three years ago, when I wrote the Photograph during NaNoWriMo, 1,667 words a day sounded terrifying. These days I set a goal of 3,000 words a day (usually in 2-3 hours time) when I'm in first draft stage. I know some of the productivity increase is because I have more words under my belt. The more you do something, the easier it gets. However, I know the biggest boost in productivity comes from writing in silence.

What is writing in silence?

It's exactly how it sounds. I remove all possible distractions and write. Here's the steps I take.

  1. I get a drink (usually caffeinated) and sometimes a snack and sit down at my computer in the office.
  2. I turn off the wifi on my computer. (If you may be tempted to turn it on, I suggest just flipping off your router)
  3. I put my iPhone on silent mode and flip it over so I cannot see the screen. (I'll be honest, nobody calls me, but if they did, and it was an emergency, I could still answer it).
  4. I get to work.


It's pretty simple, but it's been super effective for me.  Without distractions, I get in the writing zone quicker. Usually after writing around 1,000 words, I'll get up and take a break for five minutes. Then it's back to it.

Like I said, writing in silence has helped me write faster. If you are trying NaNoWriMo, I suggest you find a distraction free area to write. It will help tremendously.

I do acknowledge that distractions can come up despite your best intentions. This happened to me the other day.

Photo on 10-27-14 at 9.29 AM

I was on my computer hard at work when Peach jumped into my lap. I don't even know how she managed to land on my lap and not hit the desk. She's crafty. Anyways, momentary distraction. I carefully removed her from my lap (much to her disapproval) and went back to work. Sometimes removing the distraction can be difficult if it's a spouse or a child, but I think you can manage. :)

That's my tip for the NaNoWriMo folks. Enjoy November and good luck! 

What are your productivity hacks? 




NaNoWriMo November

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November writers across the world set a goal- to write a novel of 50,000 words during the month of November.

NaNoWriMo started in 1999 with 21 people who set a goal to write a novel in a month. Since then, NaNoWriMo has grown by leaps and bounds, but its goal remains the same- to encourage amateur writers to start writing. The concept is to write everyday during the month without worrying about structure, edits, or revisions. Just get the words down. When you hit a stumbling block or tough day of writing, you are encouraged by thousands of experienced and amateur writers who are on the same novel writing journey.

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo. It's a great motivator to know you are not alone in your quest to write a novel. I love that NanoWriMo forces you to put time in your schedule to write. I love the point is to simply write.

But, I do not love the timing of NaNoWriMo. November is a terrible month for me personally. Basketball season starts the first week of November. My normal writing time in the afternoon is taken up by basketball practice. Plus, I'm away from home for several days with family for the Thanksgiving Holiday. There are a bunch of children (and adults acting like children) running around. It's a blast, but not the best writing atmosphere. With that said, I know many other writers completed the 50,000 word challenge with tougher distractions.

Last November, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and had a great first week. I wrote over 10,000 words. But, I couldn't keep up after the first week and I finished the month of November somewhere around 20,000 words. This year, I'm not going to attempt NaNoWriMo, mostly because my short-term goals revolve around more revisions of my novel, writing short stories, and building my platform. In November, my goal is to write a short story each week.

I'd love to have a successful NaNoWriMo sometime in the future. Maybe I'll start a petition to move it to February. Or maybe I'll get over my excuses and just get it done next November.

What are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo?
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? How did it go?

The Giveaway

Thanks to all who entered my book giveaway. This month's winner was Gretchen Streiff. Here's her entry : My book entry is Half the Sky. I haven't read it yet, but have it on my shelf. I'm excited to read it because it talks about the ways in which women work in community to overcome issues of oppression in all areas of the world.

We will have another giveaway towards the end of this month so you'll have another chance to win something fun! Until then, happy reading and writing!