How to focus on writing your first draft.

There are hundreds of suggestions on the internet about how to finally sit down and focus on writing that article, or novel that you’ve been meaning to for ages:

Plan to put aside time and when that moment arrives, start with a meditation.
Develop a writing schedule and stick to it!
Switch off your phone, radio, tv – all possible distractions.

In 2006 I booked a month off work (thank-fully I was temping at the time) and wrote 90,000 words that formed the first draft for Spaghetti Head by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The challenge is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. NaNoWriMo originated as a motivator to get people putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard, and this year 163,000 people (roughly) have participated. 

Fast forward 12 years and I have just finished my second NaNoWriMo.  I now have a gardening business, so I organised my gardens into two days a week with an extra day being added if needed every other week.  On the days I worked in the gardens I would sit down for two hours in the evening and write.  On the days I wasn’t gardening I sat down at 9am, warmed up my keyboard by looking at crap on the internet like knitted dresses and short haircuts for women over 50 and then opened my document, Nano18, at around 10am. I would break for a walk at 3pm and close the laptop at 6pm, or if I was in the groove I’d carry on til later.    

The challenge finished on November 30th – and how many words have I written? 70,191! I’m ecstatic!  That is more than enough to craft into a book.  It is a very rough draft and all I have done is type everything I want to say into a document in total random order – but I will now go back to it and work on it, edit it, re-write it and polish it until it becomes the best I’ve written yet.

I cannot recommend doing NaNoWriMo enough for anyone who is a massive procrastinator – it provides the perfect deadline for focussing.  You have a year to prepare for NaNoWriMo2019.  What are you waiting for?