Writing Advice: Blocks of Time


As your probably already know, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, as I have done for the past six years. I love the challenge, I love hanging out with fellow novelists, and I enjoy the rush of writing that much within 30 days. Throughout my many attempts at NaNoWriMo glory, I have learned some techniques along the way. One of my favorite techniques, which I’ve written about before and would like to again now, is writing in blocks of time. This is a technique that was mainly introduced to me through my regional NaNo group, who holds write-ins each year during November to help writers get more words down.

For those of you who don’t know, “write-ins” are group events where some hardy novelists attempting NaNoWriMo come together on a weekend afternoon and simply write for three or four hours. These events are usually held in quiet places like libraries, but can also take place in hustle and bustle of a cafe if that’s more your speed. What’s great about these events is that it gives you a set time in which to write.

I’ve found that if I’m spending a weekend at home, writing will not get done. Even if I have nothing else to do or work on, I will not get writing done. And this is mainly because there are many distractions around when you’re just sitting at home. You may be tempted to surf around on Facebook or Tumblr, or you may get sucked into a five-hour Netflix marathon. At a write-in, you’re around fellow writers so you want to work on your writing. There is an added incentive from things we call “word wars,” in which we all try to beat each other to the most words written in a certain amount of time. It’s tons of fun and there are prizes!

Now, I know you can’t all attend write-ins, and they aren’t held every year. But you can easily hold your own, personal write-ins any time. You can switch off your internet, plug in your headphones, and just focus on what you’re writing that day. Set a timer for a few hours and then give yourself smaller blocks of time within those hours for word sprints — see how much you can write in fifteen minutes. Give it a try and see if it helps you out!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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