To some people, November 1st is known primarily for being All Saints' Day. For others, it marks the official beginning of Christmas decorations season. However, for writers, this is the kick-off to the very challenging month of NaNoWriMo, and we respond to it in the same way runners respond to the starter's pistol at the beginning of a marathon - a combination of excitement, energy, and low-level panic as we start into our month-long marathon. So let's run with this example and start our marathon of writing - even if we are not planning to write a novel just yet.
The most important thing writers have to do during NaNoWriMo is to keep on writing. Just as a marathon runner refuses to stop, every day the writer needs to get a couple-thousand words onto the page without fail - maybe more if they are up to it, but at least something every day. For those of us who are not running a marathon, we can at least try something from this: We can dedicate ourselves to writing something every day.
Now, I advocate daily writing as a way of developing good, consistent, healthy writing habits that train the mind to get creative. Spending twenty minutes a day at the same time and same place, committed to writing something, becomes a great habit for any writer, so let's use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to reinforce this. Dedicate yourself to at least twenty minutes of writing every day, rain or shine, without fail, for the next week. It doesn't have to be the same story or poem, it doesn't have to even be the same kind of writing. Just promise yourself to do it, and force yourself to get those twenty minutes in. Preferably in the same place and at the same time every day, but as long as you do it, you are still running the race.
Of course, if you want to write more than this every day, go ahead. However, a part of this exercise is also to find our limits. Sometimes we might want to write for an entire evening or sit down on a Saturday afternoon and write for hours. It feels great, but we sometimes expend all our creative juices at once, leaving us creatively exhausted the next day and more interested in a cheat day of no writing. In this manner, we treat this week like a marathon - not blazing the first miles real fast and exhausting ourselves, but rather finding a good stride to go with for the long haul. If we feel the need to write a lot one day, make sure to save a little creation for the next day so you can continue on this journey.
Since I am hardly a marathon runner and would rather focus on leftover Halloween candy, my marathon this month will be on the keyboard. However, this month's posts will be check-ins to help everyone press along with the month-long sport of NaNoWriMo, and meet you all at the finish line.