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Five Ways to Get More from your NaNoWriMo Experience

Today I am delighted to welcome friend and colleague Kelly James-Enger to the Write Now! Coach blog. I’ve long admired Kelly’s ability to write great books fast. Today she is here to share with you her best tips for making the most out of your time.

Five Ways to Get More from your NaNoWriMo Experience

By Kelly James-Enger

Each of us is given the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, week after week. How much of that time is available for writing, however, is highly variable. Whether you fit your writing time around your day job or freelance fulltime, deciding to write a novel (not to mention doing it in just a month!) means you have to squeeze the most from every minute available for writing. Here are five ways to spend your time wisely, whether you’re writing for minutes or hours each day:


Write When You’re Hot I’ve been a fulltime freelancer for almost 15 years, but I keep part-time hours. That means I have to work very efficiently. I’m a morning person, so that’s when my sitter works—and when I do, too.

I write first thing in the morning, as soon as she arrives. I don’t use that precious “sitter time” (I have two little kids) to check email or do research—I can catch up on that kind of lower-intensity work later in the day, and I know that my productivity takes a nosedive after noon. My point? Identify your most productive writing time (whether it’s first thing in the morning, right after work, or at night), and use it to write! You’ll accomplish a lot more.


Keep Notes When I write fiction (I’ve published two chick lit novels, Did you Get the Vibe?, and White Bikini Panties), I keep three documents close at hand:

  • A list of my primary and secondary characters, their names, and relevant information (I’m constantly updating this as I write) about them.
  • A timeline, so I know where I am in from chapter to chapter and am keeping track of how much time has elapsed in my book. (Has a week elapsed between chapter six and seven, for example? Are the holidays approaching or is it summer? As the author, you need to know this.)
  • A “what-could-happen” list. I list possible scenarios/twists/plot developments, e.g.: Kate gets fired. Trina has an affair. Her boyfriend has an affair. Kate’s mom comes to visit. Kate and Trina have a major fight. I may or may not use my “what-could-happen” list often, but when I get stuck, I read through it and it usually provides me a jumping-off point to keep going.

Delete Distractions Shut down your email program, and your Internet browser. Just write. Every time you log onto Facebook or send a Tweet or check your email, it takes time away from your work, which in this case is to write your novel in a month. You’ve got 30 days. Don’t waste those days surfing or you’ll regret it.

Take Breaks If you have hours to devote to your novel every day, I’m envious. But don’t plan to spend it sitting at your Mac or PC. Research shows that the average person can only listen for forty-five to fifty minutes before his attention begins to flag, so aim to take a break every hour, no matter what. Even a five-minute break will pay off with a clearer head and more words on the page.

Set Goals I’m a personal trainer in addition to being an author, ghostwriter, and speaker (yeah, I wear a lot of hats!), and I can tell you that goal-setting works—as long as you set small, reasonable goals. Writing a book in a month may be a stretch, but don’t be daunted by that. Break it down. Commit to writing every day, or to producing a certain number of words a day. Every time you meet those small goals, you develop what’s called self-efficacy, or your belief in your own abilities. That growing self-efficacy will make reaching your overall goal—writing, finishing, and I assume, publishing, your book.

Regardless, when you use your time wisely, you’ll get more accomplished, and be closer to reaching your goals. Good luck and happy writing!

About The Author. Kelly James-Enger is an author, ghostwriter, and speaker whose books include Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer’s Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books, and Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success, which will be published in April, 2012. She blogs about making money as a freelancer at

2 Responses

  1. Chris Browne

    I’m at the end of finally finsihing a book, and I’m up against so much apathy in the face of so much passion to complete it. I’m curious to hear of your methods and experience.


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