Happy New Year. 2022 was a pretty good year for me. I got a new job which I love. I got to travel a little bit (Savannah, Las Vegas, Denver (2x), Dallas, Tampa, Orlando). I got to spend a lovely week with my family at a beautiful cabin at Sundance. And I fulfilled a lifelong goal of having a book traditionally published. What I didn’t get to do was participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) which happens every November. First, I was releasing AND THE SKY FULL OF STARS and had all the stuff that goes along with a book release. Second, is it just me or is November like a really bad month to try to get 50K words written? And does the thought of having to wait to start a new story and write new words sort of stress you out when you actually have the ideas and time to start earlier–or later? I want to write what I want to write, when I want to write it, and how much I want to write it. Therefore JaNoWriMo is perfect for me.
The best part of JaNoWriMo is that I get to do it with a group of friends who are awesome. We push each other, inspire each other, and challenge each other to do our best. Another great aspect of JaNoWriMo is that I get to pick what my goal is. Sure, everyone wants to write a novel–and getting 50K words written in a month is an awesome goal, but remember that new job which I love? That takes a lot of time. So do kids, and soccer, and homework, and housework, and wanting to spend a little time with my partner, and fitting in some time to workout, and doing self care to manage my fibromyalgia (which includes a set amount of sleep). Even if it isn’t in a month that happens to have a major holiday and lots of other engagements (I’m looking at you November) 50 K doesn’t always fit with my busy schedule. Still, I hate saying I am too busy so why even try? Instead, I set a goal that is realistic AND stretches me.
One of the 2022 books I read was titled 168 HOURS: YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK by Laura Vanderkam. While I didn’t fully agree with everything in it–I did find the idea of charting what you do with each of the 168 hours in your week to be brilliant. After checking out a week or two of time, I knew that there was never an excuse not to write 30 minutes daily, really if I give up some things I like, but are not moving me forward I can squeeze in an hour a day. So that is my goal. Write for that hour–every single day this month. Set that timer and don’t stop writing–even if I have to break it into two or three or four sessions.Yes, it means less Netflix and social media scrolling, but that is the challenge part, right?
Do you want to participate in JaNoWriMo (FebNoWriMo, MarNoWriMo, etc)? Try these steps:
Set a goal. What is it that you hope to accomplish? Maybe your goal is to edit your draft you wrote in November. Maybe it is to just write 15 minutes a day. Find something that will stretch you, but that you can be realistic about as well. The goal is to help you, not add stress.
Find a game plan to meet that goal. When will you do your editing, writing, brainstorming? How will you do it (on your laptop, writing by hand, etc.)? Where will you do it (at home, at the local coffee shop, in the car waiting for kids to get done with soccer, or dance, or karate)?
Let people know your goal and plan. If you can get friends to join you, great, but more important–let people know how they can help you. Especially let your family, friends, and roomies know what you are doing and when so they can not only cheer you on, but help to limit distractions.
Set a timer. Little timed goals go a long way and help to keep you focused. Even if you have a full hour to write, taking it in 15-20 minute chunks, with a small break in between, can be more productive.
Reward yourself. What will you get if you meet your goal? Be realistic about this and make sure the reward fits the effort so you can really feel that sense of accomplishment.
So that is it. Find your time, find your momentum, and go for it. For me, I plan to get 31 hours writing in this month–which I hope equates to finishing my current WIP. It is a push, but it is doable, and maybe one day I will be ready to start a brand new idea come November 1st, and get those 50K words. Or maybe not, and that is okay because I will keep giving myself monthly goals to keep on keeping on. Whatever your goals for 2023 are, I wish you a happy, productive new year and as always: WRITE ON!