Using NaNoWriMo as a support, this month I’m setting up a routine that will really nurture my writing life. For those of you who are not familiar with it, National Novel Writing Month (which is a misnomer since NaNoWriMo is quite international) is a non-profit organization which supports writers both new and experienced, encouraging them to write the first draft of a novel—at least 50,000 words—in one month. NaNoWriMo gives writers all kinds of resources and encouragement to write, and with very active writing forums, it is a great place to connect with other writers.
NaNoWriMo is a real commitment, as 50,000 words in a month breaks down to a daily goal of 1,667 words a day. It’s not undoable for me to hit that daily goal by any means, but even during my strongest writing times, I can rarely take the time to write first-draft work seven days a week.
It’s particularly important to me in my new writing apostolate that I nurture creativity, because it seems that initially much of my writing is going to be short pieces, on-assignment, without much narrative to them. While this requires effort, craft, and creativity, it’s not the same for me as writing the longer, deeper, and narrative-driven pieces, which are both harder to write and feel more to the “core” of my God-given mission as a writer.
I will be called on to do this deeper writing, yet actually doing it and honing my skills and creativity for it will get pushed to the side if I’m not attentive, because there’s always other “urgent” stuff to write—but being urgent doesn’t necessarily make it more important. Deeper writing also nurtures my writing craft overall, so the “everyday” kind of writing that I’m currently doing will benefit hugely.
Since my role as writer for the Digital Publishing and Pauline Studios is still developing—I have barely scratched the surface in my first month here!—I find it exciting that I can shape it around the needs of the people we are trying to reach with the Gospel. NaNoWriMo gives me the perfect opportunity to set up creative routine, providing goals, challenges, resources, and a writing community.
So, my plans and goals for NaNoWriMo 2013 are:
◆ Rise earlier to pray so that I can take 45-60 minutes every morning for creative writing on my NaNoWriMo project
◆ Take an hour at least 5 evenings a week for NaNoWriMo.
◆ Write creatively every day, at least 500 words. I’m not so worried about quantity as quality, which is counter to NaNoWriMo’s culture. But a low word count goal works for me. I’ve never “won” NaNoWriMo; at least one time hitting that higher word count was so problematic for me that I just gave up early in the month. At 500 words a day, my word count/goal is actually quite low: only 15,000. That doesn’t take into account the writing that I’ll be doing during my usual day, nor the evenings I’m taking to do final edits on my latest nonfiction book. My goal is to write every day, not to complete my children’s novel. But I’m actually hoping that by setting my goal so low, I’ll exceed it. Won’t that be fun! (Word wars, anybody?)
◆ I may actually try to jump into a local NaNoWriMo write-in. Now that I have moved to Boston, I have to connect with new writers. Ideally, I’d love to find or form a local writing circle—either for narrative (screenplays and novels) or for nonfiction. If anyone is in the area, let’s connect!
The NaNoWriMo widget is on the sidebar and will display my daily word count, so if you’d like, you can follow my progress. If you are doing NaNoWriMo and would like to connect, send me an email or you can find me on the NaNoWriMo site as “paulwriter.”