What I Learned in November

This November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization whose purpose is:

National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

The flagship initiative is in November which challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel. If you write 1,667 words everyday in November, you will have 50,000 words at the end of 30 days.

Cliff Johnson

I am not a novelist nor do I have any desire to be. However, I do have a few topics and thoughts that I’ve wanted to write about. This year I was a NaNo Rebel and although I wrote 50,000 words, I didn’t write a novel. I wrote a blog post series that I’ve always wanted to put together. I also included some good journaling prompts in my 50,000 words.

During NaNoWriMo, I wrote words every day in November. Some days I didn’t write 1,667 words and other days I far exceeded it. I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed writing 50,000 words, but I did end November with two valuable takeaways around consistency and sustainability.

Consistency

National Novel Writing Month teaches consistency and works to make it a habit. If you put forth an effort, even a small effort, consistently, it can lead to big things. Like 50,000 words big.

Anyone can apply this lesson of consistency to other areas of their life. If you want to learn something/improve a skill/etc., you can put in the effort for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, you will have more days of experience with whatever you chose. For NaNoWriMo, the goal is to have more words at the end of November than you had at the beginning of November. The best way to become a better writer is to write. Just like the best way to become a better programmer is to program. And the best way to become a better painter is to paint. The best way to get better at something is to practice it.

This isn’t a hard concept to comprehend and there is lots of content floating around about 30-day challenges, like this TED Talk. However, it is a hard concept to put into to practice.

Sustainability

Writing 50,000 words in a month is a big challenge and for some people it’s a great tool to help them build a writing habit. For me, it’s just not sustainable. I was so grateful to reach 50,000 words! Mostly because I don’t want to be a novelist. In fact, it’s taken me over a month to write this post because I was so tired of writing in November.

Writing for hours per day was difficult and many other aspects of my life fell by the wayside. Andrew and I barely cooked, cleaned or did laundry during the month of November. With both of us writing, no one had time to adult. I love the idea of 30 day challenges and I will do more of them, but I’ll be looking for ones that only require a 20 – 60 minute commitment per day.

 

After having written something every single day in November, I will leave you with this:

Either you’ll make time or you’ll make an excuse.

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