I’d heard about NaNoWriMo for years before I finally figured out what it was…National Novel Writing Month. Except the goal of writing 50,000 words though the month of November, and the goal of writing a whole novel aren’t quite the same thing for me since my books somehow make themselves quite a bit longer than 50,000 words.

Anyway, that’s not important. It’s also, I hope, not too important for this topic that I’ve never actually had the time to participate in the November NaNo, though I was part of one of the NaNo camps earlier this year.

Still I am a writer. And one of the keys to completing NaNo, and to writing in general, is to actually sit down and write. Alright, so that’s fairly obvious. But obvious doesn’t mean easy, and writing steadily can be anything but easy.

Still, here are a few tips about how to write regularly and get your book or story done, be it during one month or a dozen.

Make reasonable goals dependent on the time you have.

There’s already the 50,000 word goal for NaNo, but setting a word or chapter count for yourself will help in everyday writing as well. Set yourself a date to get your book or story done by, be it one month or six, and make sure you give yourself a reasonable amount of time. If you’re busy with school and a dozen other things, setting yourself an impossible word count goal on top of that will just cause frustration. The goal doesn’t have to be easy, but it should be doable.

Make deadlines for yourself.

If you’ve set a goal, either with NaNo or just in your normal writing life, then you already have your end date. But breaking your goals out into weekly or daily portions helps morale and makes the work seem a bit more manageable. 50,000 words in one month, or a novel in four months, can seem a bit overwhelming. But once it’s broken down to 1,750 words a day or two chapters a week, the goal is a bit more attainable. You’re also able to keep track of your deadlines and see if you’re ahead or behind. Or you’ll know how much extra you’ll have to do one day so that you can have the next day off.

Still, it’s all very well and good to sit down one afternoon and make yourself goals and deadlines, but even those will do no good unless you actually commit to keeping them. Life happens, of course. Unexpected events might interrupt you sometimes and there are more important things than writing. At the same time, if you commit to writing and doing what needs to be done to accomplish your deadlines, you normally will find some time to write (that’s where making reasonable goals comes in). I read something once, and I’m paraphrasing here, which said ‘if something is important, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse’.

“My point is this: if writing the story and meeting your reasonably-attainable goals and deadlines is a priority, it’s much more likely you’ll get them done than if you leave writing until after your favorite TV show or games are over.”

Find time to write and meet your goals.

This may mean getting up a little earlier. Eating quickly and then writing for twenty minutes over your lunch break. Not playing as many games or cutting down on the time you spend on various social media sites…you might be surprised at how much you can cut to gain time.

Don’t make your writing this looming chore that must be completed at all costs.

Add some fun into the mix. Have word battles with friends to see who can write the most words in one day or week. Take part in something like NaNo…or a NaNo camp. Reward yourself for finished goals by not allowing yourself to check your media sites or play a video game after your writing for the day is complete. Or maybe treat yourself to chocolate to celebrate a completed deadline. Writing is hard work, after all.

But, in the end, it’s really up to you. How much do you want to write? How important is getting a book or story finished to you? Setting goals and deadlines work well for about any kind of writing but decide beforehand the commitment level you are working with. Is this a hobby or a passion? Is it something you can slip out of with excuses or are you fully committed to completing the story? If it is a hobby, there’s nothing wrong with that and figuring it out now can save quite a bit of stress. And if it’s something more, then now is the time for action.

Set yourself some goals, mark up a few deadlines, start writing…and don’t forget to have fun.