In the Spirit of NaNoWriMo

Everyone is prepping for NaNo next month, which is approaching quickly. But to the angst of a lot of writers, I can’t see myself participating in it. I figure there are a lot of contributing factors for my hesistance. A fear of failure. Not making the time to write every day. Forgetting to write every day. Not having a goal–even one set by NaNo. Not having ideas for novels, though I could be using the next two weeks to come up with one. The list can go on and on if I really applied myself. At the same time, I could use that same energy to brainstorm ideas, compose character interviews, outline my story, and so on. I want to do something writing-related where I feel a sense of accomplishment without as much pressure. So, here’s what I’ve decided. 

For November, I want to finish the short stories I’ve started this year. By my count, I have about three stories that need completion. What to do with them once they’re done is another story. I know, it’s not much of a goal, but hear me out. There’s reasoning behind this endeavor. 

One, I have a bad habit of starting one thing, then jumping to something else. I try to multi-task with no success. Something gets neglected. The same can be said with my short stories. I’ll start a story, but the moment I don’t “feel” a story, I jump to something else. That’s a problem. I have scenes on my phone, story starters on my laptop and notebook. It’s exhausting keeping up with all of them.

And two, unlike most writers, I can’t complete a story in one sitting. And the reason why is because I want to edit while writing, and that slows everything down. It’s frustrating because the “editor” wants to nick-pick at every little word and detail. And I end up getting very little done. 

So how do I tackle this goal. Number one,  I have to set aside time to write. I have to look at my schedule and say to myself—and others—that I’m going to write at this time on this day. Two, I have to figure out which story will be easiest to complete with the time given. I have to look at my draft books and phone and see where I’m at with each story and determine if it’s viable enough to write. Three, I have to let the “creative” side lock the door, as it were, and not let anybody else in until he’s finished. This is probably going to be the most difficult step because of my perfectionism. But it must be done if I am going to conquer this task. 

I realize saying NaNo is not for me is more assumption than truth because I haven’t done it before. And to most writers, the reasons I listed for not doing NaNo can be labeled as excuses. But working on more manageable goals while still adhering to a deadline works better for me. I don’t feel as much pressure. Still, this is a task that will not be easy considering the circumstances. Wish me luck. 

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Author: G. R. McNeese

I'm originally from Illinois, currently residing in Georgia. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing. I am blessed with a supportive wife and family.

8 thoughts on “In the Spirit of NaNoWriMo”

  1. Sounds like you’ve outlined a good plan for your goals. Have you ever used the WriteOrDie app? It is powerful and an excellent way to stop the editing voice while you’re trying to write a first draft. Good luck. I hope to hear your month went well! 🙂

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  2. I think every writer has to reflect on why they’re writing, understand the kind of writing that elicits their best selves and energy, and then (as you are doing) make a plan to get that writing done. NaNo is great for any writer seeking that particular challenge, but it sounds like that’s not the challenge you’re craving right now, and I applaud you for reflecting on what it is you need and want to be doing.

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  3. Nano’s not for me either and I’ve never done it. I never have a story for it and the deadline shuts my muse down. This year, though, I am thinking of participating in my own way. I have edits that need done, so I was thinking of setting a goal of editing one whole story for November.

    Good luck with your short stories.

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  4. I like your goals. Nano is not for me either. I’ve tried twice and never completed it. I can’t write every day, but I can focus on my writing goals by setting realistic goals for myself and completing them. That sounds like what you’re doing here, so kudos to you!

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  5. One thing I’m doing differently is promising that I will write 50,000 words–not necessarily the whole novel. I’ll get 50,000 words of a new MS done (if it’s outlined in time to be meaningful work). Considering how many people do NaNo, it can be easy to join in just because others are. It’s good to be so self-aware that it’s just not really for you.

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  6. I participated in NaNo a few years in a row, until I realized it no longer helped me the way it’s meant to. So, I started using the 30-day deadline for other aspects of the writing process, not just to write 50,000 words — to revise, or to further develop my cast of characters, or to tighten a sub-plot.

    I can always feel the writing energy in November due to all the frenzied people putting stories together, and I get inspired by that. But it helps to know we’re not limited to using NaNo in only one way–so I think your plan is a great one!

    By the way, I hope you received my feedback on your story. I really enjoyed the read. If you want to bounce any questions off me, feel free! 🙂

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