Writing your book in a month just got easier.
Do you want to do one of those crazy, thirty-day writing challenges, but think you'll need a blood sacrifice to clear your calendar?
You don't need one!
In Booked to the Gills: How to Crush Thirty-Day Writing Challenges for Busy People, you'll learn the time management and work distribution skills needed to make room for these events in your already-packed schedule. You'll also find essential strategies that help you make the most out of your writing time, catch up when you've fallen behind, deal with failure, and so much more.
Gone are the days of choosing between writing events that test your mettle and living your life. Crack open a copy of Booked to the Gills today and see how you can have your writing challenges and eat them, too.
"A pragmatic, useful guide to time management, work management, and expectation management, not just for NaNoWriMo participants but for any busy writer."– Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Dune: House Atreides
"A hard review of the journey from failure to success in the effort to win NaNoWriMo with sound lessons for a lifestyle change that can bring a writer closer to a long-term career as a professional author."– Craig Martelle, Amazon bestselling author of Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream
"You don't have to be [insane] to do this…
but it helps."
—moonsword27, National Novel Writing Month Forums, Oct 20091
The happiest accident that ever happened to me was the day I got the wrong order at Nielson's Frozen Custard. Normally, I would have returned to ask if I could get it fixed, but the long drive-thru line, packed interior, and proximity to closing convinced me my go-to hot fudge sundae wasn't worth it. So, I decided to live with it.
And oh boy… I'm glad I did.
The order I received was a Nielson's chocolate Concrete with mini peanut butter cups and smooth peanut butter swirl. The cold, creamy custard and crisp, candy crack zapped tingles from my tongue to brain at the first bite. Whoever invented this combo was a custard connoisseur, a visionary, a frozen dessert fiend!
I've not gone back to my old order since.
My second happiest accident was almost as enigmatic. It was November 21, 2020… the day I realized I had completed National Novel Writing Month™ in eighteen days while learning to work from home, worrying about a surging pandemic, dealing with the loss of loved ones, managing friend and family relationships, and so much more. It was an all-around, much-needed success amidst a crappy time in history.
But looking back at the experience, I realized there wasn't as much "accident" to my win as I had thought there was. There was a method underneath that I had been developing over many, many years of participation. It only took a burst of success to see it.
National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo™) is one of my favorite writing challenges, but it can be incredibly difficult to finish. Every November, writers around the world choose to participate in a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in only thirty days. This feat requires the participant to write a minimum of 1,666 words per day in order to cross the 50,000-word mark before midnight on November 30th and thus be considered a "winner."
Out of the eight years I've participated in the challenge so far, I have won six times. Each win (and loss) taught me something new and helped me refine a strategy that allows me to manage work, school, hobbies, family obligations, and other relationships, and still secure a win at the end of November. NaNoWriMo 2019 was particularly pivotal, as I discovered a strategy that allowed me to hit those 50,000 words in twenty-one days while balancing a full-time day job, two hours of commuting, family obligations, and active membership in two writing groups. Then, in that fateful November of 2020, that same strategy allowed me to finish in a record eighteen days while still juggling a job, family and friend relationships, writing groups, and self-care to combat the mental and emotional effects of the pandemic.
Now, don't panic. I know that writing 50,000 words in thirty days sounds nearly impossible and extremely daunting. And if you're anything like me, you absolutely DO NOT have the time. As writers, we are painfully familiar with balancing the oppressive weight of deadlines and with the behemoth of work that already hangs over us. It seems impossible to cram in words as it is with work, school, family, extracurricular activities, and any number of other obligations—our time is too often booked to the gills.
But I have good news.
We have more time than we think.
Time management expert Laura Vanderkam said in her October 2016 TED talk2 that, "Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it."
Winning challenges like National Novel Writing Month isn't just about writing as many words as you possibly can. It's about planning how you are going to fit those words into your schedule. As Vanderkam asserts, your time will expand to fit what you choose to put into it, and as long as you are intentional about when you get your writing done, the rest of your obligations will fall into place, even if you are incredibly busy. I want to show you how to reverse engineer your time so you can win National Novel Writing Month and similar events with the time you have by using time blocking, accountability, catch-up strategies, and realistic expectations, goals, and boundaries.
I understand that everyone's circumstances are different and not everyone has an interest in competing in writing challenges. However, I believe these tools can be applied across the board, no matter the project. Because I developed these strategies over the course of National Novel Writing Month, I will be teaching in terms of the competition, but feel free to apply them to your own situation as you see fit.
1 Pianochick66. "NaNoWriMo - Poster V." Deviant Art, 6 Oct. 2009, www.deviantart.com/pianochick66/art/NaNoWriMo-Poster-V-139386940. Accessed 29 June 2022.
2 TED Talks. (2017). How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3kNlFMXslo&list=LL&index=175.