by Roma Anjoy
November is the month when many writers participate in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to set a word count goal for the month and try to reach it. The default goal is 50,000 words, but you can pick any number you want. There’s a website you can visit (NaNoWriMo.org) with lots of tips and encouragement.
Some people spend the month of October getting ready for NaNo by using character development sheets, plot-point graphs, setting description generators, and other writing tools. Some install fancy new software to help them chart their progress scene by scene or create elaborate outlines of their work.
I spent the month of October getting ready too, but here’s what I did. I culled through all the books on my bookshelves (I set a rule for myself several years ago: “No buying more bookshelves”) so I could make room for the newer books sitting around in little piles waiting for a home. Result: two bags of old books. I went through my closet, putting away summer clothes and weeding out stuff I no longer wear, including shoes. Result: two bags of clothes and shoes. I went through the garage, looking for an old photo album, but while I was there I eliminated two boxes of stuff. I combed through my kitchen cabinets and drawers, removing duplicate or unneeded items to make them more commodious. Then I made a trip to Goodwill with all that stuff.
Meanwhile, I made sure I had a good supply of writing pads with different colored paper and pens with ink in various hues. I write first drafts by hand. I find it fun and mentally refreshing to switch background and ink colors. I cleared my dining room table, laying out all the supplies I would need, and collecting all relevant notes, photos, etc. I’m working on a memoir, so I know the basic story, but it helps to have object that can jar the memory.
I returned all my library books, created an out-of-sight space to store unread personal books and magazines. I cleared my inbox (well, as much as I could), unsubscribed to extraneous newsletters and webinars that would be a distraction during the coming month, and generally put my home and my life in order.
I call it “clearing the decks.” I write in spurts, and when I feel a spurt coming on (or when I have planned for one) I seem to need to circle around it for a while, making room for it in my life. The side benefit is that I return to a more well-ordered life. And that’s a good thing. So I win either way, whether or not I complete my NaNoWriMo goal.
We have such a variety of writers in our organization that we thought it would be fun, exciting and enlightening to have multiple blog post authors.
We will be sharing all sorts of writing-related topics!