I’m not going to sugarcoat this: I’m pretty anti-NaNo. If it works for you, that’s great. But for me, just thinking about it stresses me out. I know I personally write better stories when I don’t push so hard on a timeline (trust me, I would know – I once wrote 10k words in a day). I wrote a similar article about this particularly agitating yearly tradition, which you can read HERE. But this year, I thought maybe I would share some things you can do besides duct-taping your nose to the grindstone and banging out a sub-par book just for clout.
Sorry, too harsh? Okay, I’ll tone it down. Here are some of my favorite alternative (and restful) ways to spend your time during National Novel Writing Month.
Daydream about NaNo.
Yes, seriously! Think about future books you want to write, name characters that don’t actually exist yet, and doodle. Yes, you heard me – if you like to draw, doodling can be a great way to let off some steam. I also highly recommend renewing your focus on being present – that could mean spending time with friends, enjoying the crisp fall weather, and giving yourself permission to just be. It’s harder than it sounds, but so important! NaNo is actually a really beautiful time of year, so get out there and enjoy it!
Yes, that’s right folks – I’m taking the really unpopular opinion here and suggesting that you take this month to do all the fun things you’ve been putting off. Seasonally, corn mazes and apple picking are great options. It can also be as simple as binge-watching that new show you’ve had your eye on. Do whatever allows you to rest and makes your heart happy during NaNo. That way, when you decide to get back to work, you’ll do so renewed and ready to kick some serious butt on your time.
Had your eye on a new skill but never had time before? Well congrats – thanks to giving NaNoWriMo the pass, you now can learn and grow however you want. Want to up your marketing scheme? Research how to boost your SEO practices. Or maybe you’re more homespun, and want to jump on the sourdough bread craze a year late. You do you, boo. This month might be dedicated to writing for a lot of people, but you really can make it whatever you want it to be.
Why not start a new weekly game night with friends? This blends well with my previous point – you can always bring a nice charcuterie board with your new sourdough skill front and center. When life gets busy, adult friendships usually fall to the wayside. So why not decide that this month, you’re going to be un-busy? Break out of your normal scheduling for something new – and maybe you’ll even make some new connections that will prove helpful later. Networking can happen even in personal, more casual formats. Maybe you’ve been in the market for hiring a personal assistant, and it turns out your friend’s coworker is a total hottie and knows his way around an organizer? Score (take that as you will)!
All work and no play makes for a pretty dull life. Take this month of hustle, and change your tune! See, the magic of NaNoWriMo only exists if it’s something you actually want to do. If it’s not, and your heart’s not in it, then don’t bother. Guilt-free. Seriously – it’s that easy! I know the pressure to succumb is real, but like they teach you in grade school – just say no. Your health matters so much more than a cheesy social media banner. I’m not saying that NaNo is a bad thing – not at all! But if you’re doing it for attention or bragging rights, that literally defeats the whole purpose of the beast. Ideally, you want to end up with at least a solid rough draft of your story. If this process merely gives you a half-assed attempt at a story that is going to require hours of heavy revisions, then you’re probably doing it wrong.
However you decide to spend this month, make sure it matters. You can always make more money and write more stories, but we only have so much time. Spend it well.