National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us. I have challenged myself to write a novel I’ve wanted to write for over 30 years. Maybe longer but whose counting? I am! I’ve waited way too long to get this story together and it’s time to challenge myself and get to it. To quote Anne LaMott, It’s time to write that “Shitty First Draft” so that I can the start to shape it into the story I want to tell before it is way too late.
Think about making your own writing challenges. That means challenges that are right for you. NaNoWriMo is not the only challenge. Challenge yourself to write something you’ve put off and give yourself a time limit.
You don’t need to start in November either. You can start anytime. The challenge does not have to be as large as a novel only enough for you to feel as if you are stretching yourself as a writer. 30 days is a good length of time to work with but it is up to you to decide what makes for a good challenge.
Write a poem every day for 30 days
Write one story in 30 days
Write three pages every morning for one month
But you do not have to keep your challenge within a one month time frame.
Think about what Ray Bradbury once said: “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
So challenge yourself and write.
“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” -Barbara Kingsolver
I just joined a health club and today I went in to do some of the things the personal trainer suggested. I told myself I didn’t need to do it all. I just needed to show up and do what I could.
I got to the club early feeling a little out of place thinking everyone will be watching me. The woman behind the desk took my photo because I was new. There were a few earlier risers there this morning. I knew they were regulars. They had their club designed workout clothes, sweaty towels, their wireless headphones. I was a newbie. I forgot my headphones and towel. I was still trying to figure out the equipment and how to lock my locker.
But that’s ok. Because I showed up. I know what I need to do.
With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up in November, I am in challenge mode. But it’s important for me to remember that I am not in competition with anyone. No one likes to be a beginner and with writing it feels like that almost all the time. I am facing that bright white sheet of paper each time I sit down to write. How I get myself there is the trick. (Just like the health club).
This year NaNoWriMo may be a good way to challenge myself and to recognize I am not alone in this journey. But whatever I do or don’t do daily should never be because I am trying to compete with someone else.
This writing thing. I do it for me.