The month of October has arrived. That means more sunshine, Cherry blossoms, and days in the backyard (at least for me here in Melbourne). But it also means that Nanowrimo is on its way.
Nanowrimo is a yearly writing challenge that runs every year in the month of November. Working on the basis that a novel is around 50K, the challenge is to write an entire novel in a month, along-side other writers. You can find out about it here.
Writing-twitter and my writing related Facebook pages, are filled with people talking about and planning for Nano. There are also others who are wondering, is this the year to try it?
And while it isn’t for everyone (and some years just don’t work), this is my plea for you to consider it. Because it is an experience that has changed my life.
You realise just how much time you have.
The first time I did Nano, I had two year old twins and a 5 month old. An editor friend asked on Facebook who was doing Nano and I said “I would love to do it one day but…” and brought up the afore mentioned off-spring. She replied that I could always set a modest goal and see how I go. So at the time in my life where I had less time for writing than I ever had, I set myself the goal of writing 1000 words a day.
I managed 25K words that month. I cut out night-time television and day time naps and I wrote more in that month than I had written in years.
Nano is great because when you are forcing yourself to stick to a word goal each day, you realise how many little pockets of time you have in your day. You realise that television and social media aren’t half as satisfying as writing. Nano taught me how much time I had, and how much I could get done if I spent it writing. And those lessons have carried on into some excellent writing habits.
It is a finite time
New Years resolutions rarely work. Promising yourself that for a whole year you will X, Y, or Z might seem a great idea in January, but come March that enthusiasm starts to wane.
But one month of working hard at a goal, is much more manageable and realistic.
One month of your kids watching slightly more television than normal is okay. One month of a messy house is okay, or one month of easy, simple meals. One month is measurable, finite.
And I can plan for it. I can spend October getting the house in order, and preparing for activities that couldn’t be moved. Because it is only a small block of time, I can work hard the rest of the year to make it possible.
It is accountability
This is the first year I am trying for the 50K, and also the first time I have actually signed up on the ‘official’ website. But even before I did that, I have always been public with my Nano-goals. I have Facebooked my Nano-journey, celebrating the milestone’s and despaired during the difficult days. Not everyone who read my status’ would have cared or understood, but for me it was a powerful incentive. I had told the world I was going to write, and so write I did.
And while I had set myself the goal of finishing the first draft of a Novel every year for most of my life, with the accountability of Nano, it became a reality.
These are all really good reasons to do Nano. But there is one big reason why every year since that first faithful 25K, I have made myself do Nano. And it is not about good habits (I write most days now), or accountability (I have writing friends who help me with that), or the finite nature of the month (though it is related to that).
For One Month, I let myself prioritise writing
My life is very full of good things and I have lots of wonderful responsibilities. I have four beautiful children, with various important needs and wants, and as a Stay at Home Mum I have day-time duty for them. I have friends, I have responsibilities. I have a house that is never tidy and people I care about and volunteer work I do and family and friends I love and…the list goes on.
And I find it very hard to put any of that aside for my writing. It feels selfish to say- “No, that is my writing time”. Sure, I am happy to spend my leisure time (Ha!) on writing, but to treat it like a job and not a hobby makes me feel like an imposter.
But I want writing to be my job one day. And it never will be unless I treat it as such.
So Nano is my permission to do that. It is the month where I let myself say ‘Yes’ to writing, and ‘No’ to the other good things in my life. And every year I do it, every year I reach my goals, I get a little bit better at believing in myself.
October might have Cherry-Blossoms and my favourite mild weather. But November is my favourite month of the year. Because November is the month where I get to write my heart-out.
And what could be better than that!