By Shahnaz Radjy
NaNoWriMo is just around the corner
“At the end of the day, the mere fact that you are thinking of starting NaNoWriMo is impressive, and you should be proud of yourself and your writing no matter what. This challenge can honestly change the entire way you look at your writing process, and so don’t be afraid to let yourself enjoy it! Writeordietribe
It feels like it has been 2020 for a decade already, and yet I also cannot quite believe it’s almost the end of October. As a writer, I have shared my love of external deadlines already. Today, I want to hone in on the concept of “Preptober.” Why? Because the end of October is around the corner.
NaNoWriMo, a growing resource for any writer
The combination of the word preparation and October – at least in my little universe – comes from the fact that November is the “National Novel Writing Month,” also known as “NaNoWriMo.”
The concept is deceptively simple:
- Commit to writing every day for 30 days
- If you do this, you’ll have 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th
For anyone who has ever thought of or aspired to write a novel, that may or may not get you a full first draft, but it will get you remarkably closer to your goal.
NaNoWriMo is more than a concept. It’s a movement. And you can participate whether your goal is a novel, memoir, or an anthology of poetry. It’s all about writing.
You can sign up for free on the NaNoWriMo website, where you’ll find:
- Endless links to discuss everything from character names to sub-genres, including some you never knew existed
- Advice from published authors and agents as blogs and videos
- My favorite? A simple tool to keep track of your progress.
- Badges that mark your achievement of specific milestones
- Nerdy yet brilliant paraphernalia
What “Preptober” means
With that in mind, advice and resources abound around preparing for NaNoWriMo. One blog gives you daily prompts to get your creative juices flowing, and for you to find your writing rhythm. Another sets out a detailed schedule to use every day in October to plot and plan what you will be writing about when November comes around.
NaNoWriMo takes it to the next level by sharing resources to prepare for November as early as two months ahead of time.
If it feels like you’ve missed the boat for this year, fear not – one, I am right there with you, and two, that’s where my suggested approach comes into play.
Turn things on their head and just… write
The bottom line behind all these blogs and resources and advice is one single, resounding message from the universe: if you’re here, if you’re reading this, you should write. You are interested in reading about writing. You have ideas. There may even be started projects lurking on your hard-drive or in a drawer.
I am here to borrow words of wisdom from a well-known sports brand and say, “JUST DO IT.” Just write.
Stop waiting for it to be the perfect time to start. Ignore the feeling you might have that others are more prepared than you or have more to say than you do. Never mind whether or not you can commit to writing every day or the suggested 1667 words a day to achieve 50,000 words in a month.
Start. Write. Please take out a notebook and do it old school. Scribble on a napkin (or 12) if that’s what you have at hand (it worked for J.K. Rowling). Use a voice-to-text app on your phone. Purchase Scrivener and try to figure out what the big deal is all about.
Whether you struggle to find the words or find them flowing out of you as if a dam broke, there is no right or wrong way to do this – except to keep letting excuses get in the way of you actually doing it.
November 1st – What happens next?
What happens next is entirely up to you. I just used Preptober as an excuse to write almost 1000 words, and when November 1 comes around, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo for the fourth time.
From my previous participations, I achieved the 50k mark twice and fell short once – but every single time, I came out ahead and with way more words and writing experience under my belt than if I had shied away from the challenge.
Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I have a full draft of a young adult fantasy novel that I am proud of as it was my first, the first draft of a Memoir that I hate and keep vowing to rewrite, and a partial draft of the sequel to my first novel.
Every writing project I undertake teaches me about writing and about myself as a writer. It brings me closer to finding my voice, becoming allies with my creativity, leveling up from the stage of the new-born writer to a competent, mature writer.
Most importantly, every time I participate, I get better – and one day, I’ll be a published writer. Or I’ll have some great secret projects hidden in drawers for my kids to find—either way, I’ve written.
By now, I look forward to November. Whatever else is going on, I know I’ll be carving time out to write – and even my husband has come to accept that (no small feat as he now takes it as a given and fully supports the endeavour!).
When you’re done, there’s no more wondering, “What if…”
So, here’s to you embracing the advice by Polonius and being true to your writer self. Whether or not you sign up for NaNoWriMo, whether or not you abide by any of the advice above – if you think you’re a writer, you are a writer, and that means you need to write.
Share Your Work and the Process
After writing your NaNoWriMo challenge, consider a submission to Two Drops of Ink outlining the process, what you learned as a writer, and why this type of commitment to writing is essential to improve your writing.
Shahnaz is an adventurer, foodie, bookworm, and horse-lover. She is a freelance writer based in Portugal as well as the co-founder of an eco-tourism project. Alumni of the World Economic Forum and the University of Pennsylvania. Shahnaz has lived in Geneva/Switzerland, Philadelphia/USA, La Paz/Bolivia, and New York/USA.
http://casabeatrix.pt/ shows the adventurous spirit of Shahnaz and her husband, François. First, they traveled the world working on farms to hone their skills, and since 2017 have been in Portugal. They bought an old farm in 2018, and are turning their biggest dream into an unforgettable farm / nature / disconnect-to-reconnect experience we’d love to share with you.