Today is November 1st, and for many writers, it’s also Day 1 of NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month), a worldwide event in which writers are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
Your dearest writer-friends (or you) may have disappeared during Novembers in the past as they feverishly try to meet this goal. Some writers naturally find this volume quite a stretch, which has led to the formation of NaNoWriMo support groups that allow members to find peer support as they upend their lives to crank out thousands of words in a few weeks.
I don’t object to NaNoWriMo. I tried it once, in fact, and found it great until I realized that 15,000 words in, I had no idea what I was writing about and no sense of direction. I quickly petered out in my NaNoWriMo attempt, and I haven’t returned since. At that time in my life I didn’t have the discipline to make that level of sustained effort and I didn’t have enough writing chops then to navigate plot roadblocks.
I applaud those that are going for the gold in NaNoWriMo. However, for those of you like me who have given up, or those who find the thought of writing a novel in a month more than a little daunting, I might offer an alternative.
What if you could take your efforts and spread them out? What if instead of becoming a crazed hermit each November, that instead you carve out 15 minute of writing time every single day? Sure, not a lot of writing gets done in 15 minutes, but 15 minutes over 365 days is 91.25 hours—certainly much more than the 60 hours you could garner writing 2 hours a day for NaNoWriMo (I don’t know that many folks who can write more than 2 hours a day who aren’t professional writers, but your mileage may vary).
Writing every day builds discipline and commitment. You sit down and write even if you are sick, even if the kids are screaming, even if you are completely out of words for that day, and even if Aunt Margaret is staying over and making your life hell—you make those 15 minutes sacred for yourself and your projects, and the time becomes non-negotiable.
And, if you get into the rhythm, maybe you write more than 15 minutes a day. That’s even more hours! Huzzah! But you always put in your 15 minutes, no matter what.
I’ve done this with my art and writing practice going on two years now. The difference it has made in my creative flow has been life-changing, and I would never consider breaking my streak for anyone or anything. It’s not an easy route by any means, but neither is writing 50,000 words in a month (excluding the professionals once again).
But, whichever way you choose, be it NaNoWriMo or the Daily 15, may the best of words find their way to you! Cheers!