Prep-tober: NanoWriMo Approaches

October is coming to a close, and NaNoWriMo edges closer.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a yearly challenge in which participants across the country attempt to write a 50,000 page novel in the month of November. In it’s purest form, a writer will write an entire novel from start to finish in 30-days: a truly impressive feat. I have no illusions in my ability to write 1,666 words a day. Nor am I confidence in my ability to write a novel- length story. Though I know novel-writing isn’t my forte, I try to create my own version of a writing challenge each year.

So, whats going on in 2021?

I can’t commit to anything too taxing. I am visiting my sister the first week of November, and have the holidays to consider as well. Coming off of an intense summer season of working 60 hours a week, writing 1,600 words a day is out of the question. I am not even sure I can commit to finishing a story a week, like I tried last year. So, if I can’t commit to finishing anything, what can I commit to?

Is “Just Write” too vague of a challenge?

The idea behind a challenge is to give yourself a specific goal. When the goal is specific, it’s harder to cheat by changing you checkpoints. Having a specific endpoint in mind, like a writing 50,000 word novel, also makes it easier to judge whether you met your goal or not. Obviously, “just writing” isn’t an easily tracked metric. I could try to add some rules, like “respond to a writing prompt every day”, or “Write a poem a day”- but I’ll admit I am afraid of failure. It’s much easier to complete a challenge when you allow yourself to cheat.

So, cheat I will!

I’m setting a very loose goal to work on my writing through November. Whether I am drafting, writing, or editing- I need to work on a piece of writing every day. Maybe this no-goal, goal will get my creative juices flowing again. If this year goes well, maybe next year I can up the ante and set a real challenge.

Prepping or my no-goals month.

The final week of October is all about preparation. For those who go whole-hog for NaNo, Prep-tober is used to outline their novel. The year I attempted a prompt challenge, I spend the final week of October collecting prompt ideas. Last year, I found story drafts I wanted to work on. This year, prep-tober is about “filling the well”. My creative well has felt tapped for months. This week I’m priming the pump by reading, researching topics that interest me, and watching shows and movies for inspiration. I’m jotting down notes that spark new ideas, and have dug up half-forgotten drafts from my drives.

Will I make it?

With a little luck and a lot of dedication- I will come out of October full of inspiration and leave November with some completed work. And if I don’t? It’s not the end of the world. I haven’t succeed in any of my NaNoWriMo challenges yet (I’ve tried 3 times before), so what’s more fall? As the saying goes: “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”. So, here I go in 2021: try, trying again!

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