NaNo has started and once again, I feel like a failure. I’m eight days in and have only written two days’ worth of words. As I prayed this morning, God reminded me it only takes two hours of focused time for me to write 1500-2000 well written words. The problem I run into with NaNo is distractions. This is a busy time of year for me between family time and running my annual writing challenge group. Not to mention, just wanting to enjoy the holiday season that starts mid-October and rushes through the end of the year.
But I have tools in my author toolbox to deal with distractions, if I choose to use them.
One is the Power of 10 Minutes.
For the past six years, I’ve been part of a Facebook community called 10 Minute Novelists. When I first joined I was writing a book just for fun. I was a full-time mom, full-time college student, homeschooling my oldest. I didn’t really have time to write, but it was a creative outlet. So I squeezed in 10 minutes early in the morning, while the baby was sleeping, between the kids’ bedtime and mine. This little international group of time-crunched writers became my haven.
Folks further along in the writing journey shared their advice. I attended chats with editors, agents, and writers talking about what it took to publish a book. I learned about platform, branding, cover design, and some of my favorite resources like CANVA. Like a sponge, I soaked it all in, in those little bits of time each day.
Before I realized it, I had this amazing group of cheerleaders, encouraging me to keep finding the time to write. I found my first beta-readers, my first editor, plugged into a national writer association, got the courage to invest in and attend my first conference, and since then have attained a literary agent, self-published two books, with a third coming out through Mantle Rock early next year.
I did this all in between the hecticness of life because I learned that in 10 Minutes I can…
…write 200 words (about a page).
…edit a page of a manuscript (sometimes 2).
…read a blog post or a few pages of a craft book to hone one of my author tools.
…create an image or two for my social media posts.
…check in on my author page and either post or reply to posts.
You get the drift. Even on my busiest day I can find an hour in these little 10 minute sessions. I can even find time to meditate, go for a walk, drink some water, take a shower, and do other things that allow me to be a healthier, more focused writer, mother, wife, and business owner.
Now that my girls attend a self-directed school, I have more time in my day. But more time doesn’t equate to more productivity, because my mind has time to get distracted. I have time to get on social media, play games on my phone, scroll through Pinterest, randomly start and stop household chores, or go shopping midday. Sound familiar?
Research is clear, attention is based on mindfulness.
It requires us to focus, and that’s difficult in a world with lots of shiny distractions. When I had no time it was easy to say, “I will spend 10 minutes on my dream.” Now I prioritize 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation before I sit down to write, read, or coach other writers. Meditation allows me to focus more deeply on the task at hand and get more done in less time. It also makes me hyperaware of how much I can do if I just give it 100% of my attention.
And I pass this on to my 365 Writing Challenge members. In coaching and supporting fellow writers, I am constantly reminded that being a full-time author is possible, if I just focus on doing the next step. Whether that’s writing the next page, going through editorial feedback from my critique partners or editors, working on social media, or learning more about the craft, I can break it down into bite-size pieces.
So if you’re struggling with NaNo set a timer. Write for just 10 minutes. You’ll be 200+ words closer to your goal, and more than likely you’ll work past the alarm and find your groove. And if that timer dings and you have to get on with life, you’ll still walk away with the satisfaction of knowing you put in the effort and there was fruit. As we say in 365, writing isn’t a sprint, it’s not even a marathon, it’s a journey, taken step by step.
How do you avoid distractions?
Jessica White writes stories that shape the soul. She has two historical novels out in her Seasons of Healing series. Her first contemporary romance will be published March 2020 with Mantle Rock. You can learn more about her and her books at her website. Sign up for her quarterly newsletter to receive a free 30 day devotional and come along with her as she journeys with God on her Facebook page.