Fall semester, team sports, extracurricular activities, cider mills and corn mazes—do we have to sacrifice the season to write more this autumn?
Of course not! You just need a new game strategy to make it all happen.
There’s an advantage to finding time to write more in the summer: More daylight.
Back in June and July, it was easier to wake up to write with the sunrise or stay up late scribbling words down with the sunset.
With fall comes shorter—and colder—days.
We may no longer have vacations and beach days on our calendars, but our schedules have quickly filled up with classes and sports and anything else the fall season throws at us.
This could just be my opinion (for I did write this piece): There are many pointers you can take to heart from my blog post on writing more in the summer.
However, I felt that we writers need a specific writing strategy when it came to writing more in autumn. Doesn’t every season deserves a different approach?
What makes the fall a great time to write more is because it’s a season where we can really refine our writing habits so that we make good choices throughout the rest of the year and into the new one.
What writing habits do you need so that you write more this autumn? I’m glad you asked.
Eliminate Time Wasters
I totally get it. You worked overtime today and all you want is just a minute to sit down and unwind.
A minute turns into an hour into the rest of the night. And there goes another opportunity to write.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we watch TV shows, surf the Internet and scroll through our social media feeds not because we get immense value from it. We do it simply to waste time.
When you look back on your life, do you want to remember how you wasted your time? Or do you want to remember how you lived it to the fullest?
It’s time to make decisions that will make Future You very proud.
Reward yourself with your favorite TV show or new movie you want to see after you achieve your daily writing goal.
When you write, turn off your Wi-Fi signal and place your phone across the room. Use short breaks between bursts of writing to step away from your work and walk around or get a glass of water. Don’t ruin your writing thought process by checking your Twitter feed.
Adding writing back into your life means reducing the number of time wasters in your schedule. Do you really need to catch up on 15 shows? Is that really more important than finishing your novel or screenplay?
I didn’t think so.
Shift Dead Time into Brainstorm Time
If you really think about it, there’s more down time during your day than you’d probably care to admit.
There’s that long commute to work, the wait in line at the grocery store, folding laundry, washing dishes and walking your dog around the neighborhood.
Unless, of course, you have a cat.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get this time back? Well, what if I told you it was time that you’re choosing to let slip away?
No, I’m not advocating that you write while driving to work. And I’m sure your dog won’t stand still for you to scratch out an idea or two.
A great portion of the writing process is brainstorming new ideas, flushing out character sketches and fine-tuning plots. And it’s less than ideal to spend what little time you have each day to write on the planning part instead of the writing part of your next big work.
It’s time to make every minute of your day count!
Use this stagnant time of your day to plan your writing project or your next writing session. Keep a verbal record of your thoughts with a voice recorder (not your phone!) as you wait in traffic. Carry a notepad and pen when doing errands so that you can jot down an idea or two as you wait.
Power Through Your Lunch Break
You can spend 30 minutes or even an hour a day jabbering on about a reality TV show with your colleagues. Or you can write a page-turning novel.
Yeah, I’d pick the latter too.
And while it’s easier to shovel food in your mouth and continue through your workday so that you can get home sooner (I’m guilty of this), you’re not doing yourself any favors for your writing project.
Now that the days are slowly shrinking, waking up early to write may not be quite as inspirational as before. But if your work schedule allows, you can still wake up pre-sunrise and get to work early so that you feel okay taking that lunch break to write.
So grab that sandwich and go!
Give yourself fifteen minutes to eat your lunch and decompress from the morning grind. Then launch right into your writing project. It’s a 45-minute sprint to get your word count in!
Lock your office door. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your cubicle. Go write somewhere nearby that’s not inside the office. Do whatever you need so that you are not interrupted.
And for goodness’ sake, turn off your work email and your Wi-Fi signal. Don’t let the workday or any distractions leak in. Didn’t I just say you only have 45 minutes to write?
Your co-workers will miss your appearance in the office lunchroom—but they’ll be super impressed (or even jealous) of your creative initiative.
Sign Up for NaNoWriMo
For years, I unofficially participated in NaNoWriMo in what I call My NaNoWriMo. That means I did National Novel Writing Month my way. In other words, I focused all my writing energy on a writing goal that wasn’t completing an entire novel.
I did this because November has consistently been a busy time for me. And because I’m self-competitive, I don’t like to commit to something as big as writing a full-length novel in one month unless I can succeed.
Last year was a fluke. The chaos that is usually autumn dwindled to a low plateau. So I decided to take a chance on myself and participate in NaNoWriMo.
To be honest, I had no confidence that I’d achieve the 50,000-word goal—but I signed up anyway.
Why? Because I knew I needed that external push to motivate me to write more.
This is not a sponsored blog post. NaNoWriMo did not ask me to write these praises. I have no partnership with National Novel Writing Month.
Simply put, this method just works.
NaNoWriMo forced me to get my life together for my writing. Excuses were eliminated, time was made and writing down words was being accomplished.
So sign up. Write like crazy for a month. And be proud to have a draft of a full-length novel by November 30.
(Just make sure you follow the rules).
Attend Local Writing Sessions
I am not talking about creative writing groups or writing workshops. I repeat: I am not talking about creative writing groups or writing workshops!
I discovered these during my writing sprint for National Novel Writing Month. There are writing sessions called Write-Ins usually hosted at libraries or cafés where you show up just to write.
No reading your work aloud. No critiquing of your work. Just time to write.
Doesn’t that sound amazing?
These sessions work for me because I’m a person that’s not motivated to write after the sun goes down. But if I’m making time to leave my home, I push myself to make a certain word count.
During November, these Write-Ins are designed for NaNoWriMo participants. But I truly doubt they’d turn away a writer who didn’t sign up for National Novel Writing Month.
Can’t find a local write-in session near you? Create one! It’s usually easy to book a meeting room at your local library. In fact, I’m working on starting one in my community right now that happens throughout the year. Stay tuned!