National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo is about to begin. Writers all over the world will attempt to finish a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of the month. That’s a 50k word first draft — not a final, polished manuscript. I can see the motivation and anxiety all month as writers gear up to write those 1667 words a day. Some have prepared an outline. Others have created detailed plots. There are others who prefer to jump straight into the draft without much planning other than the brainstorming in the head.
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo once, ending up with a finished novella of about 30,000 words. Another time, a group of author friends and I, had our own version of the event in the month of May where we decided to finish incomplete manuscripts or do as much as possible of a new creative project. So, yes, our goals may have been different, but we wrote every day and shared daily word counts. If someone missed a day, it was alright. Life happens. This may sound too flexible to some, but it worked for us.
This year, I am not doing NaNoWriMo even though I plan to write another short story or novella next month. I’ve always been open about my struggles with anxiety and that’s the main reason why I choose to stay away from this huge event. Why? Because the daily peer pressure can trigger anxious feelings and feelings of not being good enough. Why? Because I like working at my own pace — which is actually quite fast and efficient. Why? Because I have a carefully structured daily routine which can’t afford to get disturbed when I know that I will be able to write what I need to write anyway.
BUT I am thankful for NaNoWriMo enthusiasm on my Twitter timeline. It’s a good kind of craziness that has made me start planning my next story. I am highly motivated and disciplined most of the time about my writing and the authors sharing their November prep and plans have really inspired me to not waste November even as a non-participant.
For other writers who struggle with anxiety or cannot find the time to write 50,000 words next month, I suggest making your own version of the event just to get your pen going. Some ideas from me –
- How about setting a word count target that’s much smaller? Maybe a 5,000 word short story or two? Or a 25,000 word novella?
- Why not take out an unfinished document and aim to complete it by November 30th?
- How about setting smaller daily targets to get into the habit of daily writing? Attempt 300 words a day maybe?
Let me know what you do in November, my fellow writers. Whatever it is that suits you, good luck! 🙂