Like many of you, I’m currently at the halfway point of my journey through the perilous quagmire also known as National Novel Writing Month. In past years, November has transformed me into an unkempt, unshowered, irritable monster. This year, I’ve tried to take a different approach, for the health and safety of myself and those around me. I’ve tried to keep it fun. I’ve tried not to stress so much about where I am in comparison to the “on par” line. I’ve tried not to feel guilty for having those days when work/life/kids or a combination of all three takes over or alternatively, when my brain decides that enough is enough for the day and goes on break. Above all, I’ve tried to be thankful for what I’ve managed to accomplish so far instead of thinking about how much I still have ahead of me.
“I enjoy writing, sometimes; I think that most writers will tell you about the agony of writing more than the joy of writing, but writing is what I was meant to do.”
(This month, I am thankful for the following:)
Whether you’ve written 25,000 words or 5,000, celebrate your progress. Don’t stress if your word counts are falling beneath the curve. While it’s fun to compete and root for your NaNoWriMo buddies or just for accountability purposes in general, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how your progress compares to others. It’s YOUR PROGRESS. Plus, some of us don’t work as well in fast-draft mode, but we make up for it in lots of other ways (see my post on writing stress and why daily word counts might not be the best strategy for everyone.)
2. The writing community
One thing I love about writing is the writing community. My IRL critique partners are my people. I’ve traveled to various places to meet my online writing buddies for conferences and book events and writing retreats, and these are also my people. I connect most with these people on many levels, and I’m forever grateful for how much they inspire and teach me. Being part of a writing community comes with a rich and rewarding return of friendship, support, and yes, even this:
3. Your own daily (or weekly or monthly) goals
Some claim that the only way to accomplish the big things is to set lofty goals, and while that may be true, it’s also beneficial to set small goals along the way. Set your own goals. AND CELEBRATE THEM. I mentioned the writing community in #2, and one of my most treasured writing friends is fellow TTOF contributor Megan Paasch. While we live in different states and maybe only get to see each other once a year if we’re lucky *cries*, we text on an almost daily basis to chat about writing and life, and to root for each other. Recently she tipped me off to a cool program called Habitica.com that allows you to set and track goals. Habitica is a fun role-play type app that uses avatars and rewards/incentives to motivate yourself to achieve your writing goals, or to exercise more, or to floss daily. Or whatever you want. And based on your progress, you can earn gear and hatch out dragons from eggs and other cool stuff like that. #win
|*These are obviously my writing-related goals. I have personal goals on Habitica but will spare you from seeing those 🙂|
4. Those utterly brilliant a-ha moments
We all have them — those moments where two clunky pieces finally fit together (or at the very least are a little less clunky). Or those moments when a light in your brain snaps on and you figure out the crucial missing element from the backstory of your main character. Or you finally figure out that elusive plot point that is essential for linking point A to point B. These a-ha moments should not be diminished. They don’t even need to be final. But make sure that you celebrate them!
5. Your creative mind (reward it!)
Speaking of celebrations, you should celebrate yourself most of all. You are creating PEOPLE**. You are creating EVENTS and HISTORY. You are creating WORLDS. You deserve to reward yourself for creating any and all of these things. Give yourself a treat of your favorite beverage or snack. Allow yourself time for a guilt-free break and watch your favorite TV show or Netflix episode. Or sit back and give yourself a moment to take pride in your own creations — perhaps create a Pinterest board for your characters (and to serve for inspiration), or make your characters (and you) a fun playlist, and give yourself a pat on the back for caring enough about your characters to do this for them (and for yourself). I think sometimes we concentrate so much on what we haven’t done yet that we forget to celebrate all of the things we have already achieved. While NaNoWriMo is great for a lot of things, it is just one month out of the year. Don’t forget that there are still 11 other months in the year to celebrate your achievements too. You deserve it. ❤
** Technically, characters. However, my characters object when I don’t think of them as real people.