Books·Writing Tip

Participating in NaNoWriMo? Molly Peacock says if you want time to write, make time to write

If you're participating in National Novel Writing Month, poet and fiction writer Molly Peacock says you can find the time to write pretty much anywhere, you just need to look for it.
November is National Novel Writing Month. (Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The annual event, which started in 1999, challenges people to write a novel that is 50,000 words in length in 30 days. 

With all that writing to do, staying motivated is no easy feat, but CBC Books is here to help. We're publishing two writing tips each week to support and inspire you along the way.

This writing tip is from poet, essayist and fiction writer Molly Peacock. 

"One thing I hear from writers is that they don't have time to write. But I give an assignment when I teach a 'sonnet studio' workshop where I ask the writers to write a 14-line poem. I give them 20 minutes. Just about everyone finishes. What if you set a clock for 20 minutes and asked yourself to compose 14 lines? Everyone has 20 minutes at some point during a day — it's only a third of a lunch hour! A book can get written steadily. Just think, if you wrote those 14 lines five days a week, you'd have material for a book by the end of a year. I'm not saying to get up at 4:30 a.m. like Anthony Trollope. After all, Trollope had a servant who got up at 4:00 a.m. and made him tea! But writing on a lunch hour is possible. It's possible with breakfast. It's possible instead of watching the news. The news will catch up with you, and so will all the tasks of your day. But if you write first, then the whole day shakes out differently: you know who you are."

Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist and short fiction writer currently based in Toronto, Ont. Her books include the poetry collection The Analyst, the biography The Paper Garden, the memoir Paradise, Piece By Piece and the short fiction collection Alphabetique, 26 Characteristic Fictions.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.