Published 24th November 2022
Here’s the thing…
It’s the time of year when your Instagram feed is full of ‘NaNoWriMo’ content. And, if you’re a bit new to this social media stuff, like myself, you’ll find yourself asking – what is that when it’s at home? Well, welcome to ‘National Novel Writing Month’, where participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in November, AKA – writer’s hell. But here’s the thing, even if you choose to opt out, you’ll still be swept away in the ‘humble brag’ current. A river full of waves of writers sharing their ‘oh so amazing word-counts’, ‘Insta worthy desk spaces’ and ‘I haven’t slept, but I still find the time’ posts. A dangerous tide indeed. One where the old ‘compare and despair’ gremlin likes to swim alongside innocent writers as they gasp for breath. A bit dramatic? Sorry. But, as I sit in Costa, wrestling to write a mere blog post, that’s how it feels. Someone remind me why I like writing? Please. I’ll wait.
Someone who says it better…
‘Other Writers: YEY! Nano time! Me: Oh good, a whole month to be reminded that I’m not writing enough….’ – @cant_i_just_write
(Okay, fine, I admit this is from my own Insta, but it still counts right?)
Here we go then…
Let’s put the sass aside for a moment. I’m sure NaNo is great. I’m sure that many of you are shouting at your laptops telling me I’m completely missing the point. Fine. I admit that for many of you, it’s an amazing month. A time for good old goal-setting, deadlines, accountability buddies, and a sense of community. And, if it works for you – wonderful. I mean it! Writing’s a lonely and frustrating business. If NaNo’s working for you, I’m thrilled. But if you’re anything like me, then it’s not. It’s really NOT, because here’s the thing about goal setting. It’s got to be a SMART (R for realistic) goal. And is 50,000 words in one month, realistic? No. Not for me anyway. For one thing, November’s a busy month in my working calendar, and for another, that’s just not how I write. I like to polish as I go. My completed first draft probably looks quite clean to most writers. But does this mean that I never complete a project? Nope (I’ve finished 300,000 words for my trilogy – promise) it just means that I understand my process. And for me that does not include NaNo. It does include coffee though- lots of coffee. Why do you think I’m writing this in Costa? (At the same time as sighing that it’s still far too early for Christmas cups.) So, with that said, let’s get to some fiction before I run out of caffeine. Whether you’re a NaNo pro or a NaNo NO, we all face the same blank pages. Let’s not forget just how inspiring that is (even if we do feel like smashing our laptop on occasion).
Let’s get creative…
I started this blog to embrace my creative writing, so I’m trying to challenge myself to write a poem, short story or flash fiction to accompany every post. (Makes another coffee. Procrastinates. More coffee.) Right, here goes…
“Blank Sheet of Paper”
A piece of verse by Chrissy Kett
Take a sheet of paper,
Full of adventure
Full of excitement
Full of dreams
Full of possibilities…
Never ending possibilities
…. In fact
It’s a little overwhelming…
But don’t worry.
Take a breath
And pick up your pen
And create what you feel.
If you feel it
It will be true
It will be right
And that once blank piece of paper
Will own the secrets of your heart.
Enough creativity. I’m a ‘Type A’ personality–give me a list!
Five Ways to Set Writing Goals if you’re a NaNo NO like me.
- Set Time, Not Words: Sometimes words just don’t come. But you can always set time. Eg. For one hour, I’ll go to Costa and work on just writing, no distractions.
- Set Writing Sessions Per Week: If you’re trying to keep fitness goals, you might aim to go to the gym three times a week? Why not do the same with writing?
- Set Chapters: Give yourself a deadline for a chapter at a time. This one works well for me. Big goals are just a series of smaller steps, after all.
- Enter Competitions: Need an extra nudge? A theme to get you inspired? Enter a competition. It’s a great way to knuckle down, develop your skills, and you never know, you might just surprise yourself. You’ve got to be in it to win it after all!
- Set Rewards: I’ve never done this one. But I think it’s one I’ll aim for. We work hard as writers, it really is a labour of love, so why not give ourselves a little treat at the end of it? A bubble bath, a cheeky November mince pie, or a movie night at home. (Hey, a gin tonic if it calls for one.) Whatever it is, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Let’s cut to the last eight bars shall we?
I confess I’ve stolen this from my mother-in-law, but it’s one of her many sayings that I just love.
So, to NaNo or not to NaNo, that is the question. For me, it’s a hard NO. But find what works for you. Maybe you’ll love it. My point is, whatever else you do, don’t let the ‘Compare and Despair’ gremlin win. It doesn’t matter how other people write. It matters how you write. And even though us writers and creatives all have different processes; we all have one thing in common – we want each other to succeed. We want to appreciate creativity. We want to celebrate YOU. And NaNo or no NaNo, I’m sure there’s a great deal to celebrate.
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Hi, I’m Chrissy! I’ve started this blog to celebrate the Arts. I’m a performer who’s taking a little break from being a ‘talking prop’, and am enjoying the teaching and writing side of things. If you want to know a little bit more about me and my writing journey check out my About page.
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