Posted by: Cathy | October 6, 2016

Deciding to do NaNoWriMo

14-0925 NaNoWriMo (This is a repost of an article I had on My Meta World, September 26, 2014)

November is National Novel Writing Month! ( I’ve participated in this event a few years and I don’t know yet if I’ll participate for 2016, since I’m taking the last week of November for vacation.

Here are some questions I ask myself as November 1 approaches to help me determine whether I’m ready or not.

Do I have the following, or can I create these by Oct 31?

  • Mental space
  • *alendar space
  • Potential creative energy
  • Hunger or motivation
  • A story seed
  • A dash of insanity

Let’s break it down …

Mental space: Can I clear enough space in my mind to let a story take over my brain for 30+ days? If I’m preoccupied with anything (holidays, vacations, relationships, work projects, etc.), my story won’t have the mental space to succeed. I need to do a brain-dump activity to see what is floating around in my mind and whether I can resolve these things in October or set them aside through the end of November. If not, I might not be setting myself up to succeed with NaNoWriMo.

Calendar space: Can I prioritize enough time daily to write the average of 1,667 words? I might need to do some timed writing exercises in October to clearly see how much time it will take me to block out each day. The year I won NaNoWriMo and wrote 50,000 words in 30 days, I was able to block out two writing sessions per day of ~850 words.

Potential creative energy: How full is my well? Do I have enough creative energy inside me to carry me through 30 days of writing? If not, what can I do to fill my well?

Hunger or motivation: I’ll need to be really hungry creatively to keep the momentum required to “win” this writing challenge. Do I feel the hunger? What do I need to do to build up that motivation? (Some examples might be challenging a writing partner, getting fund-raising for accountability, giving myself a prize if I “win”, etc.)

A story seed: It helps the momentum if I have a great story seed. What could I write about every day for 30 days? What story idea has been bumping around in my head for a long time, or what is really drawing my attention and would be easy to flesh out into a plotline in October?

A dash of insanity: This has been a year of ups and downs for me, so I’m not sure if I have the energy for insanity this time around. If life was boring or more stable, I might crave that insane energy, but maybe not this year. Is there a way I can make life boring or stable through the month of October to prepare for an insane November? Or would I rather come up with a new challenge for myself in November to rest and focus on self-care, or create inches of art, or write a poem per day, or anything else that would give me a creative boost without quite the commitment that NaNoWriMo demands? Maybe I’m craving a different form of insanity and I haven’t let this come front-of-mind yet.

Pondering these things will help me get clarity so I can commit to or pass on NaNoWriMo with mindfulness. Right now, I need to decide if I want to modify the challenge for 20 days, and I’ve got 3 more weeks to make a decision!

P.S. To get you ready for National Novel Writing Month in November, I have a free download on my site:

* NovPrepWo, a NaNoWriMo Preparation Workbook – on my downloads page under “Writing” (free!)



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