Preptober and NaNoWriMo
October is well underway. November will follow, certainly, as it does each year. What does that mean for writers, and what does it mean for YOU as a writer?
Ahh, October, when “real” autumn kicks in.
In Northwestern Pennsylvania where I live, fall weather is pretty great. In fact, fall/autumn is my favorite season in many ways. Sweatshirt weather. Bonfires in the yard. A backyard that smells like grapes. Colorful leaves on the trees and ground. Long walks that don’t make me sweat. Those really cool days when the sky looks dark but not dark, and it throws the scenery into a sharp contrast of golden colors with no obvious source of illumination.
Yeah, you could say it’s my favorite.
Autumn also brings a feeling of preparation.
I’m not sure if it’s because of routine things like the school year, or the sense that projects need to be wrapped up before the winter sets in, but I’ve always felt the urge to prepare for something, even if I wasn’t sure what.
In past years, I’ve juiced our grapes, made applesauce, canned tomatoes, made jam, and “put away” all kinds of delicious foods for later in the winter, when I’m trying to recapture the flavors of the growing season.
Lately, I’ve felt the urge to declutter, to stop collecting things for the sake of having them, to give things away, and to think about what “less” means—and how to achieve having less instead of more. I’ve even wanted to streamline my workday. I’ve been keeping close tabs on how much time I spend in each area and trying to maximize what needs my attention the most.
I do a lot of planning for the following year in October, thinking of what I want my business year to look like, how I want to go about making that happen, and looking back to see what I’ve accomplished so far to compare it to.
For writers who are planning on participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, Preptober is THE month to get ready.
It’s the time to do all the detail work so that when it comes time to put your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard, you do it. Writer Rebekah Joan has put together a killer guide for getting you through not only Preptober (How to Easily Outline Your NaNoWriMo Novel During Preptober), but the whole month of November as well (NaNoWriMo Survival Guide (+ NaNoWriMo Survival Kit)). And it’s FREE!
So even though it’s mid-October, it’s not too late to get yourself together and make NaNoWriMo a productive month.
Here’s the thing about NaNoWriMo, though.
Keep in mind, always, that the objective during November is to challenge yourself. To establish a solid habit of writing regularly—every day if possible, for an entire month—and aiming for a certain word count.
You are NOT a failure if you don’t write 50,000 words in November. You are not a failure if you don’t write every day. You are not a failure if you write the goal number of words but it doesn’t equal a whole novel. You are not even a failure if you try and . . . fail.
Yes, that sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Well hey, that’s how I roll. It keeps me alert.
But seriously, if you set up goals and try, and something gets in the way (hello, life), that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Yeah, you may have failed to meet your word count, but you planned—perhaps a little more thoroughly than you usually plan—and you started.
Sometimes, enthusiasm keeps you going. Sometimes, burnout makes you stop. Sometimes, your determination is derailed by a family emergency or something else that’s genuinely out of control.
You know what? It happens. But it’s not the measure of your success.
Your success lies in trying, sometimes over and over again, and in not giving up.
NaNoWriMo is one aspect of that—one that can help you boost your productivity by planning out a certain number of tasks in a certain number of days, tracking your progress as you go along. It’s a wonderful tool for those who choose to join in the month of November, and a writer can make progress in leaps and bounds by committing to that discipline. But don’t look at it as a pass/fail class.
Look at it as a step in the right direction, complete with a community of cheerleaders to help you take that next step.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month? Have you done it in the past? Do you think anyone who attempts to get 50,000 words written in a month is a lunatic, or a superhero?
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