Fellow writers–did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a creative writing challenge that happens every November, with the goal to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. Considering how many writers (myself included) that struggle to see a writing project through to the end, it can serve as a great kick in the pants to finally get it done. There’s a variety of resources to guide you through it, such as the official blog, but my focus was just on getting something written. This year, I was inspired by a group of 8th graders that participated in the project for their English class. With the launch of my blog 3 months ago and my desire to get at least one of my writing projects done (don’t ask me how long I’ve been at it), I decided to go for it. Here’s a week-by-week report of how it went:
Week 1 (Nov. 1-7). I decided on a whim to participate on November 1st and was ready to start on the 2nd. However, I spent the entire week drowning in a sea of assignments to grade. Besides some journaling, I didn’t get any writing done for the blog or my writing projects.
Week 2 (Nov. 8-14). Much lighter load is terms of grading and scheduling. Some journaling here and there but struggled to come up with a good idea for a blog post. I had my biweekly writing club with some colleagues on Thursday and that helped push me out of the rut. The next day, I put out a blog post. I drafted this blog post to publish at the end of the month and wrote up and scheduled November’s monthly micro. I typed a few extra words for 2 writing projects.
Week 3 (15-21). Grading picked up again. Outside of journaling, didn’t get any writing down.
Week 4 (22-28). Didn’t feel well for a couple days. Also, grading dominated.
Week 5 (29-30). More grading! I was aware of the month ending and was disappointed that I didn’t write more.
I struggle with consistency as writer, and had hoped NaNoWriMo would have produced great results. Perhaps not 50,000 words, but something substantial. Instead, it was a huge fail. But of course as an educator I know everything is a teachable moment, so here is what I’ve learned from this:
1. November’s a crazy time at my day job. My co-worker and facilitator of the Writing Circle said she would not be doing NaNoWriMo, with good reason: major assignments, meetings, paperwork galore. Certainly it was possible to still find the time to write, and (amazing) people do. But I found myself mentally tapped out after taking care of my major obligations. Part of that was due to not thinking deeply enough about coordinating assignment deadlines for my different classes so I wouldn’t have a huge backlog to go through. Maybe doing NaNoWriMo in November is not a good idea and I should do it during a lighter month. Maybe, just like a marathon, I need to train more before taking it on. At the very least, I have some ideas on how to manage one aspect of my job better.
2. Building consistency happens slowly. Going from writing occasionally to frequently or daily is a huge jump I couldn’t realistically expect to happen in one month. By writing I am specifically referring to writing projects. I journal several times a week and I usually post here once a week. So I am writing, but there’s more that I want to get out, that I could get out. To do that, I should designate a time to write and build frequency from there.
3. I can’t wait until I “feel inspired”. Whether it’s going to be a side hustle or my next career, waiting for inspiration to write is not sustainable. When I teach, some days I am feeling more creative than others, but still have to teach anyway. Likewise, I just need to get some words on the page, even if they’re not good. I can always edit them later.
As classes are drawing to an end (anyone else beyond Zoom-fatigued?), I am beyond hopeful to get more writing done. I’ve had this burning desire to do so that refuses to go away.