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Writer Wednesday: Mindfully Tackling Writing Challenges

Hello authors and welcome to another Writer Wednesday. Generally, we talk industry, shop, and craft but today, I wanted to touch on something craft adjacent. November is barreling towards us and with it brings one of the most popular writing events out there. That’s right, I’m talking National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, and for a fun challenge with low stakes, there also seems to be a large amount of stress tied to this event.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to provide a spark point of creation. It is a community vetted and supported writing challenge to pen 50,000 words of a manuscript within a thirty-day time frame. Many authors use this challenge to finish Works in Progress, jump start new projects or force themselves to focus on a project with a looming deadline. There are great things that come out of this challenge, but there are also a lot of stressors and flags to be aware of when embarking on your NaNoWriMo quest.

Mindfully Tackling Writing Challenges

You are only accountable to yourself- NaNoWriMo is meant to be fun, but many authors internalize their failings, even if it’s about a challenge where the only person they answer to is themselves. That feeling of failure can snowball, especially if you are exhausted, or mentally and emotionally drained, which is the existing state for most of us these days. If you really want to participate in this challenge but are going in on fumes, you are going to have a bad time.

Personalize your challenge with goals tailored to your capabilities- Be honest yourself. While the big challenge is 50k, create your own goal to reach. Make your challenge about rewriting or editing. Make your daily word count goal 500 instead of 1.5k. Give yourself the grace and wiggle room to meet a healthy goal, get that burst of serotonin, and cut yourself some personal slack at the same time.

Write with Friends on the Same Page You Are- Please take this advice with a grain of salt because different strokes for different folks. While we know not to compare our journey to other authors or to compare writing speeds, it might be beneficial to your mental health to find writing buddies who juggle similar work/ life balance balls. You may very well be motivated when surrounded by authors who can pump out 10k a day, or you could benefit from having a writing buddy who will coax you into a writing sprint between dinner and putting the kids to bed. Having another person who writes around the same pace could be key to keeping one another motivated.

It's Okay to Fail- I can’t stress this enough. Even with the best and brightest intentions or an epic start, things happen. Motivation can taper off, the holidays are high stress points, and November is an insanely busy time of year for some jobs. There are so many hopes and goals we set for ourselves that failing can feel like a punch in the chest, even when you are only answering to yourself. Sometimes those failures hit hardest.

There are so many different forms of success that failure isn’t really failure except in the mind of the author. What feels like failure to you looks far more impressive from the outside than you realize. A good start is still a good start, and even if your time frame doesn’t match a month-long challenge, what you do manage to create during NaNoWriMo is still the point of NaNoWriMo. While that tantalizing 50k goal is the aim, NaNoWriMo rarely expects the work created to be finished. This is a challenge about beginnings.

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