Do you hear that sound? The furious scratching of pens and the clacking of keyboards has begun around the world as the month of writing abandon is finally here. Whether or not you’re participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), here are a few quick tips to help you enjoy writing this month, no matter what your goals are.
I completed my first NaNoWriMo in November of 2012. It was an absolute thrill to see my word count mount and to finish over 50,000 words.
When I reread the work in January, my NaNo novel was not so much a coherent story as a character running through various obstacles without a clear goal in sight. I realized I had written about three really great scenes, developed three usable characters, and probably wouldn’t be able to use about 38,000 words. Oomph.
Still, I wouldn’t trade November 2012 for anything. The most valuable part of the experience was the community I discovered and the first time I realized that I could sustain a writing practice and enjoy it.
3 Ways to Enjoy Writing During NaNoWriMo
I’m not participating in a traditional NaNoWriMo challenge this month, but I’ve committed to three things with the goal of getting words on the page and enjoying it while I cheer my NaNo-writing friends.
1. Pick a project or form you love
One of the things that helped me complete NaNoWriMo in the past was choosing projects in the genres I love—those stories I return to again and again. If you’re tackling a NaNoWriMo project, check out your comfort book stacks for inspiration.
If you just want to rekindle a love for writing like me this month, think back to what you loved to write when you first began. As a kid, I loved short stories and letters. Maybe you wrote poems or drew comics. Maybe you loved telling stories aloud. Whatever form makes you smile, commit some time to play with that form once a week this month.
I love flash fiction—the compression of time and space, the need for precise language, the urgency. I’ve committed to writing one flash fiction piece a week through November.
2. Compete only with yourself
It’s easy to watch friends post huge word counts this month and feel discouraged. Why didn’t I sign up! That could be me! This book is never going to be done! It’s not unusual for me to feel that familiar FOMO feeling right around the end of the first week.
Ironically, it’s about the end of the first week when many people struggle. The 10,000 word mark can be a mental hurdle.
This year, I’m fully embracing the season I am in. My family and I have some unique challenges to maneuver this November, and I am refusing to allow myself to compete with others. Our circumstances are not the same. I have some flexible goals, some fun stories percolating, and I’m accepting that any words on the page this month are a win.
3. Encourage others
Here’s a trick for enjoying your writing more all year around: encourage others. Writing can be hard and lonely work, so a shout out, email, or share can boost a fellow writer all week. It’s funny, I often think I don’t have time to write a quick message or email, but every time I do, I feel more connected to my writing community and grateful for the art of writing.
Who could you encourage this week? Leave a comment on a fellow writer’s blog or give them a shout out on Twitter and see what happens.
Enjoy Your Creativity
Yes, there are “rules” to NaNoWriMo—how much you have to write, what preexisting material you can use, what kinds of projects count, etc. But remember, this month is your month to engage your creativity however you like. How do you want to use it?
Happy writing month, friends! I hope you write with abandon, hit your goals, and have some fun along the way.
How do you remember to enjoy your writing journey? Share your best tips in the comments.
What will you write this month? How will you enjoy your writing?
Take five minutes to think of what you'd like to focus on in November and set your goal. Will you work on your novel? Write short stories or flash fiction? Write poetry? Plan a new book?
Then, take ten minutes to start writing to meet that goal.
When you're done, share your goal and your progress in the comments below, and don't forget to leave feedback and encouragement for your fellow writers!
Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.