Lots of folks will start National Novel Writing Month on November 1st. This writing challenge involves writing a 50,000 word novel over the 30 days of November. It’s doable, if challenging. From past experience, I know that level of output (1667 words per day, or about 2500 words per day if you only do weekdays) could require 90 minutes to 2 hours per day.
I’ve spent a lot of time these past few weeks pondering whether I intend to participate this year or not. My current thinking is that I will construct my own challenge, likely writing 1000 words each weekday in my “free writing file” — figuring out ideas I might incorporate in an existing novel draft. I do not think I will be able to carve out a full 90-120 minutes per day, so best not to set that as a goal. An hour is more doable. I could see doing an hour today, but not two hours, and my life will not be different in a week. Future Laura will likely feel the same.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about what my yearlong projects will be for 2023. The leading contender for a reading project is all the works of Jane Austen (I’m looking for projects that are doable in a few pages a day — to limit resistance — and worth doing, meaning the author’s works have stood the test of time, and that I haven’t read all of them). My current leading contender for a year-long writing project is to write 2 lines in a sonnet every day, thus producing 52 14-line sonnets in a year (longtime readers know that the “collection of sonnets” idea has appeared on versions of my list of 100 dreams). That would also meet my criteria of being doable in a few minutes — to limit resistance — and worth doing.
In any case, it’s a lot of hemming and hawing. Why? Because once I decide to do something, I want to see it through. I really dislike canceling or quitting things. I doubt anyone likes doing so but for myself, I dislike it enough that I’d prefer to quit on the front end — that is, think long and hard about whether I truly want to do something. That’s true for big projects, though it’s true for everyday stuff as well. If I’m going to take something on, I’d like to have a plan, I’d like to have thought through the challenges, and I want to anticipate how I will deal with them.
If I have those three things in place, then it’s not too hard to sustain something, even for a full year. If I don’t, then it will be. And I’ll probably be kicking myself.
Are you taking on NaNoWriMo? What about any 2023 year-long projects?
In other news: I was a guest on The Art of Manliness podcast! This was so cool — I know it has a huge following. If you’re coming here because you heard me there, welcome! I blog a few times a week on productivity topics and daily life. We have a great and positive comment section.
I was also a guest on the lovely Caroline Dowd-Higgins’ podcast, Your Working Life. It is always a treat to talk to Caroline, and the episode is fairly short, so please give it a listen if you’ve got a few minutes!
Photo: Random fall color, fallen to the ground