Three years ago was my first attempt at Nanowrimo. For those out of the know, it’s national novel writing month. For the month of November you write furiously to hit a 50,000 word count. You do this online with a bunch of other writers, and everyone is going for that one glorious goal. There are guest speakers to pump you up and articles on how to best utilize the time you have. A few articles exist on how to write, how to keep the ideas flowing, but primarily it’s all about 50,000 words and how to make sure you hit it. Quality doesn’t matter. You should try it. I haven’t won yet, but it’s a lot of fun.
While writing furiously my first year, on November 15th, there was a video that shot me square through the eyes: sequester yourself. Chris, one of the heads of the movement, said the best way to get writing done is to sequester yourself. I was a teacher at the time. I had students hanging all over me. At night I had to grade. Parents would call because it was my first year and they had my number. I lived at home and there were chores to be done or my parents wanted to bond. How in the world would I sequester? As I said, I did not hit the word count that year.
As I’m editing a 388 page monstrosity, I’m not appreciating my progress. The words of Chris haunt me once more: sequester. I’m taking up his call, as each and every one of you should. This week, maybe even all month, find something that distracts you. Now destroy it or hide it away. If they are children, please don’t destroy and remember they need food, but otherwise a large enough closet makes for great slumber parties.
Take whatever it is you know sucks up a lot of your writing time, and avoid it at all costs. If it’s something on the internet, block it. If it’s your phone, remove the battery and give it to your spouse or roommate for an hour. Whatever it takes. To show that I’m taking up my own banner, I have blocked Facebook on every computer I have access to and removed it from my phone. Between chatting with friends and looking at Game of Throne memes, I lose hours to this monstrosity. So away with Facebook for a week, and I’ll see what happens from there.
The purpose of this is to refocus your efforts. I was told that what we focus on, what we do over and over, is what we will become good at. Often times what we distract ourselves with is not something which is improving us. It isn’t something the world craves. Writing expresses your inner thoughts. It makes you more in tune with communication. It allows you to see both details and a big picture. Window shopping on Amazon makes you envious or poor.
Many times, this can be helped by a spouse or friend. Have them keep you accountable. So with this in mind, with your manuscript or ideas in hand and head, block the temptations of this world and get to work. The world wants to see your vision and will no doubt be a better place for it. So get writing, and stop getting distracted!