NaNoWriMo and Me

Today is November 1, which means it is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That breaks down to 1,667 words per day, despite weekends, holidays, or, in my case, an impending baby. NaNoWriMo is tough, but it is not an impossible challenge (I’ve written about this before–click on the keyword below).

But it’s not for everyone. And this year, it is not for me.

NaNoWriMo 2016

My Non-NaNoWriMo November

But here is what I will be doing during November (in addition to working my job, prepping the baby’s room, going to doctor’s appointments, and helping out my wife):

  • I will write. My only goal is to write some amount of fiction every day. Instead of failing if I “only” write 1,500 words, I fail only if I write zero words.
  • I will continue to work on my novel. I’m not completely ditching the work I’ve done on it, but I am going through a substantial rebuilding to improve my characterization.
  • I will read fiction. I’ve read over 60 books this year so far, which is high for me (I usually end the year in the 50s). But I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately. I want to get back into reading more fiction. And, more importantly, I want to break it down, identify the pieces, and understand how they work together. Reading as education, not just inspiration and entertainment.
  • I will go easier on myself. Instead of focusing on how my writing is not where I want it to be, I will focus on past successes and look for improvement in my current work. Instead of whining about time I have let slip by without writing, I will focus on today and tomorrow and the words I am putting down now.

As you can see, my NaNoWriMo is not only about developing good writing habits, but also developing good mental/psychological habits. I’ve never been a fast writer. It’s always been a bit of a struggle for me. And when I get down on myself, that struggle becomes more difficult, and I start writing less. So this November, if I want to write more, I will also try to be more forgiving, more patient, and more encouraging toward myself. Now that isn’t to say that when it comes time to edit that I won’t kick my own ass. Instead, this November is about making sure that ass kicking comes at an appropriate time and place.

Now I can’t measure my progress in this endeavor the same way I would for NaNoWriMo. But I can gauge how I feel about myself and my writing, and see how many days in a row I have written something. Yes, I wish it was more concrete, more measurable, but I’ll take what I can get. Maybe I should add another point–to write more here about my process, good and bad. Maybe by reflecting a bit more, I can help improve my processes. It may not be 50,000 words, but in the end, if I have written something and feel better about doing it, I’ll call that a win.

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