From NaNoWriMo to Winter’s Words

Winter's Words

The Birth of Winter’s Words: My Personal Writing Challenge

For those who aren’t involved in writing and/or publishing, NaNoWriMo refers to National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November of each year.  As an event, it has reached epic proportions since it was first kicked off in 1999, with almost 400,000 taking part last year, and many authors’ books being published and even reaching best-selling status.

Every year since NaNoWriMo was launched, I have considered registering and taking part in its activities, and felt like I had let myself down when I let it pass by without participating. All of the initial excitement was contagious, but I found myself in a period of self-blame for letting the opportunity to finish my novel pass me by once more.

All I needed to do was to commit myself to writing 50,000 words during November.

This year, I decided that I was going to participate, but never actually registered. I read what was recommended on the NaNoWriMo website and found that it didn’t fit me.

When shopping for an article of clothing, if we find something that doesn’t fit, we must make a choice to buy it and wear it as it is (telling ourselves that it doesn’t really matter that it is a little long, or short, or tight, or loose), or find (or create) something that fits perfectly.

I decided that I would need to create my own version of NaNoWriMo, tailoring it to my own needs. Here are the reasons for creating my own personal “Winter’s Words Writing Challenge”, which will take place in January and February of 2018:

  1. November is a crowded month, when time seems to accelerate. Our family’s Thanksgiving celebrations are already our first priority and each year call for more flexibility in scheduling our (ever-expanding) events. I could see almost immediately after my recent and premature decision to participate in NaNoWriMo, that it would simply overwhelm me. My husband was scheduled for surgery on November 1; I already had several readers’ and writers’ events on my calendar that I didn’t want to miss; we were looking forward to a visit from Tom’s son; and then it would be time for Thanksgiving.
  2. In my world, November is also prep time for December and the holidays. I enjoy the planning, the process and the results, and go into full swing in the days following Thanksgiving. This Christmas will be an especially joyful occasion because all of my children and families will be together, something that hasn’t happened since before my youngest grandchildren were born. Again, November will be spent enjoying Thanksgiving and in anticipation for Christmas.
  3. I am choosing January and February for my writing challenge because I would like more than one month for my personal writing goal. These two months have traditionally been a time for taking a breath and focusing on what we want to accomplish during the coming year.
  4. In Oklahoma, ice and snow are often on the horizon and there are days when we are advised to stay at home. That “digging in” can naturally be transformed into an extra day or two of focused writing.
  5. There are three holidays during the months of January and February which could be earmarked for writing.
  6. I am happy to set my own goal for the number of words or pages to be written, instead of approaching it from what someone else considers appropriate or doable.
  7. My personal writing challenge is not limited to novels, but can be adapted to any form of writing. For example, deep winter could be an excellent catalyst for poetry or memoir.

Some of these reasons for creating my own writing challenge are covered quite nicely within the NaNoWriMo umbrella and I will be consulting the website for the many resources that are offered there. I also want to congratulate all of my friends who are participating in NaNoWriMo and will continue to follow their progress during November.

My primary reason for “Winter’s Words” will be to set my focus ahead to what I wish to accomplish during January and February. I will report my progress here in my blog and, in more detail, in my Marginalia newsletter.

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