How NaNoWriMo Can Help Writers “Act As If”

Earlier this week, I sat down to get started on my NaNoWriMo prep, specifically planning out my writing schedule. One of the things that helped me most last year was figuring out when I was going to do the bulk of my writing. Since I was traveling for almost half of November, I scheduled the rest of my month to include big chunks of writing on days I knew I’d be free and then figured out the minimum word count I could get away with on days I wasn’t near my computer.

This year is a completely different story. For the first time in four years, I’m not traveling at all but I do have a few family obligations that will keep me from writing on a couple days. On the flip side, since I’m freelancing I don’t have a full-time job blocking off forty hours of each week. And that’s when it hit me: what if I treat my writing like a full-time job in November?

If you’re familiar with the Law of Attraction, you may have heard of the idea of “act as if.” Basically, if you act as if you already have the thing you want, it will be attracted to you. In less woo-woo terms, you can think of it as “fake it til you make it” or as a broader version of “dress for the job you want.” Act like a confident, take-charge person and reality will follow. Learn to be the fun-loving, caring, confident person you want to date and your counterpart will find you. Put on your Victoria Secret wings whenever you step out the door and…wait, no maybe not that last one. You get the idea. And when “acting as if” includes a change in mindset, there’s actually scientific evidence to back it up (power posing anyone?). You become more likely to get the thing you want because you’re more likely to work for it and persist through setbacks.

For writers, November is the perfect time to put “act as if” into, well…action. Sign up for NaNoWriMo and you will quite literally be acting as if you are a professional writer: working towards a deadline, writing consistently if not daily, and prioritizing your creative life. Even if that story never sees the light of day, NaNoWriMo is the Pee Wee football practice that can get you to the NFL one day.

By now, going into my ninth NaNo, I’ve got plenty of word-generating, storytelling practice under my belt. And after last year’s win, I now know I can not only finish a draft but stick with it through revision. So this year, I’m taking advantage of my wide-open calendar and freelance life to set myself a new challenge; one that is more mental shift than marathon. While NaNo has traditionally been a case in shoe-horning into the corners of life, I’m going to flip it on its head. This November, I’m going to challenge myself to live like a full-time writer, treating the words like my day job and shaping the rest of my life around the edges. Wish me luck!

If you’re working on NaNoWriMo Prep and want to create your own ideal writing schedule, I highly recommend these resources:

  • Natalia Leigh’s Preptober Workbook Along with guidance on choosing an idea, plotting, and more, Natalia helps you plan your writing schedule and routine for November.
  • NaNo’s “What’s the best NaNoWriMo writing schedule for you?” quiz is a fun way to figure out what your ideal schedule looks like.
  • Pacemaker is one of my favorite writing accountability tools. Once you figure out what your ideal schedule for November is, you can customize the standard 1,667 words per day to suit the reality of your month. Plan out your big writing days or skip days and see how many words you need to write each day to stay on track.
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