Last year I took it upon myself to challenge…myself, to try out NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. That means that for the whole month of November, I’m challenging myself to write 50,000 words. That’s a little over 1,600 words per day. Up until this point, I’ve stayed in the realm of short stories. I actually think they’re harder to write because you have less time to develop the story. This year, I’m going to really give it a go. There’s something bigger forming a few pages at a time and I think I can connect them all in some way that might make sense and turn out to be fairly entertaining.

We’ll see.

Truthfully, I just like the exercise. It’s good to be in a routine that doesn’t involve talking about how many reps I completed or how many protein shakes I had to drink to recover. It’s a different kind of healthy. Last year I really let the month get away from me. I used the holidays as an excuse and didn’t quite make it to 50k words. I think it ended up somewhere around 30k. Which is still pretty damn good if you ask me.

What I’ve Learned In A Year

First, I’ve learned to relax and stop freaking out. See, the problem with giving myself a challenge is that I will take it very seriously, and put it above most other priorities in order to achieve my goal. If you don’t believe me, ask my wife about the time I built a shed out of pallets and almost passed out from dehydration because I insisted on meeting my own deadline.

Like right now, I’m sitting at my kitchen island typing away just thinking about writing a whole lot this month. The problem is that like every other person on the planet, I get worn down, distracted and discouraged. (I think there’s a joke in there somewhere.) Finding the motivation to continue can be difficult, regardless of the challenge at hand.

Exercising my brain on a mostly daily basis has been wonderful. It’s put me in the habit of writing often, but not about any particular thing. Whatever strikes my fancy (not fanny) is what I will focus on for a little while. Using daily prompts from The Daily Post has probably been the most helpful. Making sure I carry a notepad to jot down ideas has also been really helpful. Nothing feels more defeating that having a spot of inspiration, only to lose it fifteen minutes later and have no recollection of the idea.

What I’m Not Going to Do

I’m not going to make any excuses. I just don’t see the point. I’m either going to follow through with the exercise or I’m not. Half-assing something I’m supposed to be passionate about doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is also the temptation to procrastinate and avoid sitting in front of a screen for an hour to type. Giving myself permission to go ahead and use good ‘ole fashioned pen and paper is a great way to avoid…well, avoiding things.

So here’s to NaNoWriMo 2016! May it be linguistically satisfying to anyone that cares!