It’s that time of year again. In the northern hemisphere, the air has turned crisp. Leaves are changing colors. Children are choosing Halloween costumes. And writers across the globe are stocking up on coffee, hoarding chocolate, and doing finger stretches in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month.
Here at 8LW, Michille has shared her plans for her own run at NaNoWriMo gold (finishing 50k words of original fiction in the month of November), Elizabeth has been getting us into shape with writing sprints, and several of the ladies are contemplating whether they’ll join the party.
Until this past week, I was undecided about my own NaNoWriMo plans. I’ve participated in it in the past, with mixed results. I ‘won’ twice, completing all my words, but the first time, I later got rid of most of those words. My second win yielded better results, and I was able to use about 70% of what I’d written. That seems to indicating an increasing return on investment, and I could certainly use a surge in word count to get my series plans back on track. But as is usually the case, there’s lots of non-writing stuff taking precedence in my life and it would be easier to not commit.
Then I read an article by Kathleen McCleary over at Writer Unboxed. Among the advice in the post is to pay yourself first, advice often given to small business owners. In this case, McCleary isn’t talking about monetary pay. She’s talking about taking time for yourself and your writing, putting it – if not first – at least somewhere closer to the top of your to-do list. This falls in line with advice about identifying priorities and organizing your day by doing the things most important to you first. An alternative approach is to identify the times of day during which you have the highest-energy level and scheduling writing (or whatever else you identify as a high priority) during that window.
While that sounds like a great idea, actually doing it is the hard part. It might be helpful to have some external impetus, a support system, maybe even thousands of other crazy writers working toward their own goals. You can see where I’m going with this. So, rebel that I am, I’m setting my own NaNo goals, which include writing every day, preferably early in the morning before everything else in the world crowds out my writing time, and working hard to disengage my hypercritical inner editor while doing it.
You have to make prioritizing writing a habit. While there is a school of thought out there that says it takes 21 days to form a habit, that is, unfortunately, probably inaccurate. But November is 30 days long, and even if that’s not long enough to make daily writing a habit, it’s long enough to get back in touch daily with my story, get some words on the page, and make a good start toward prioritizing my writing.
Writing goals take many forms beyond racking up word and page counts. Maybe you’ve wanted to start writing every day, or every weekday, or every weekend day. Maybe you’ve been meaning to set aside a certain number of hours for your writing, or more time to study more about craft. Whatever your personal writing goals are, you might consider using NaNoWriMo and the camaraderie of tens of thousands of other writers to take the first steps toward establishing new writing habits of your own. So what are your plans for November?