As I mentioned when I started this monthlong endeavor of mine, I’m not new to the idea of a November writing challenge. For three years, my MO for NaNoWriMo went something like this:
- Start writing with little to no idea what I was going for.
- Figure out a vague plot around Day Two.
- Write almost every day but fall behind schedule anyway.
- Panic and write 10,000 words over Thanksgiving weekend.
- Cross the 50,000-word mark on November 29th or 30th.
And that’s a perfectly acceptable strategy… for NaNoWriMo. After only a few days, though, I’m realizing that this just isn’t going to work for NaBloPoMo.
Even though the latter challenge grew out of the former, they’re really two very different beasts. NaNo is about pure quantity: It doesn’t have to be good, and it doesn’t matter whether you write it all in the first week or all in the last week. It just matters that you hit that magic number.
NaBlo, on the other hand, isn’t about quantity at all. Sure, at the end of the month you have 30 blog posts. That’s a goal in itself, especially when you consider that I’ve written fewer than 30 posts on this blog in the last year and a half. The real goal, though, is consistency. I could write 30 posts over Thanksgiving weekend and publish them all at once, but that’s wouldn’t count. I have to do them one at a time. One post each day. Every day.
That’s the real challenge for me. My novel-writing strategy doesn’t work here. You can procrastinate as much as you like with NaNoWriMo. You can take as many days off as you like, provided that you make it up some other time. I am an excellent procrastinator. I’m not so great at setting up a routine and keeping to it day in and day out. I’ll be honest here: If this were NaNoWriMo, I probably wouldn’t be writing right now. I had a busy day, and I have to be up early tomorrow. I would have thought about the pages waiting to be filled and decided that sleep was more important.
A blog doesn’t let me do that. Not only is there a more pressing deadline–midnight, rather than the 30th–but the very nature of this blog means that if I mess up, I do so publicly. Sure, I know if I skip a day of novel-writing, but if I skip a day of blogging, it’s out there for the whole world to see.
It’s already changing the way I approach my day. On the 2nd, I remembered after dinner that I had to write a post before bed. On the 3rd, I remembered sometime around noon. Today, I started thinking about it in the morning. I think about potential blog posts as I walk between the metro and work. I think about topic ideas as I make my tea. Each little experience throughout the day gets run through a filter, evaluated for any potential that may be lurking below the surface, before I fold it into my memory.
That feels weird to me, but I think it’s good, too. I always say that I love to write, but NaBloPoMo demands that I prove myself. In some ways, I suspect that NaBlo is going to be harder than NaNoWriMo for me–but really, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it didn’t push me at least a little.