Between family, every day to dos and all the blog tasks that need to get done, the simple act of writing can become a chore. I’m getting back in the groove with the 30 day writing challenge of NaNoWriMo – and telling you all about how I plan to do it!
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) began in 2006 in San Francisco and has bloomed each year as more and more writers see the benefit in a short period of concentrated writing effort.The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month – a daunting number that requires you to be disciplined about writing every single day. NaNoWriMo has evolved over the years into a nonprofit organization that organizes and funds events to encourage young writers while also offering a deep writer’s community online. There are a plethora of resources for writers of all kinds. And each year, the attention of this community concentrates on the month of November as an opportunity to make serious progress on a new or languishing project.
So, what does it have to do with bloggers?
You, dear blogger, are a wordsmith. The length of your posts may not rival that novel on the book store shelf, but you use the written (or typed, rather, but you know what I mean) to inform, evoke emotion and connect. You are a writer.
And writing is a skill, a muscle that must be developed, trained and practiced. Writing A LOT is a challenge all it’s own. One that society’s voracious appetite for content demands of many content creators. I’m generally a fan of quality over quantity when it comes to content. But there is no doubt that if you aim to earn an income as a content creator (social media, blogging, freelance writing, etc), you need to be able to consistently generate high quality content.
And that takes practice and discipline, much like the ability to write a set amount of words every day for a month. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Building Your Blogging Muscle
I first participated in NaNoWriMo a few years ago. I was creating an ebook for a ghostwriting client and I was slogging. The topic wasn’t especially in my lane and it felt like I had to pull every word from the universe kicking and screaming to get it on the screen. Seeing all of the excitement and energy around NaNoWriMo had me thinking that maybe a little group think and accountability would help me get through this project.
And it did! Although I didn’t meet the 50,000 word goal, I did finish my project and have a happy client.
So each year, I would come back to it. But because I wasn’t working on a book, I didn’t take it especially seriously and I’ve never hit that 50,000 words a month. Although I’m not super good at keeping track of my word count, so I might have been selling myself short. But in 2015, I decided I wanted to get a little more serious about my content creation. I was preparing to launch this site – Blogging in Balance – and used NaNoWriMo to draft the bulk of my first four months of content + 2 workbooks and 2 months work of emails. I adjusted my word goal to fit my needs embraced the discipline aspect of NaNoWriMo – the commitment to spend a dedicated amount of time everyday working on crafting written word. I found that it gave me a wonderful springboard into a very productive 2016.
You Need A NaNoWriMo Plan
Whether you choose to your 30 days of super blogging during November or not, failing to plan is a sure way to crash and burn.
First, let’s set some expectations.
- You’re writing a draft. It doesn’t need to be perfect. The point is to get your brain in a rocking content creation groove. Editing & prepping images is a whole different ball game.
- Avoid “blank page syndrome”. Ever find yourself staring at a blank screen and wondering what happened to that genius blog post idea you had in the shower? It happens to all of us, especially when you’re creating a lot of content. Instead, start with an outline of the content you want to create. (more on that down below)
- Accountability matters. Discipline is the ability to get things done even when you’re not feeling the motivation, and its hard. Give yourself a boost by setting up some accountablity. Recruit a writing partner who has a similar goal, start a support thread in Balanced Blogging, or join an event like the ones I run in my blogging Facebook groups.
- Set an appointment and keep it. The only way you are going to hit your writing goal is to give yourself the time to do it. Do you know how long it takes you on average to write 800 words? 1000 words? Your average blog post? Remember, this doesn’t include editing but you do need to give yourself the time. Sit down with a planner or calendar and mark out times that you can write – then keep it. Missing writing time snowballs QUICKLY and you’ll find yourself woefully behind your word goal.
- Bring along the grace. It’s an incredible feeling to celebrate those milestones (10k words in a week, ya’ll!). But don’t forget that this isn’t a finish line, all or nothing kind of exercise. Fall short of your 30k word goal but hit 25k with 3 months of content drafted? That’s a HUGE win.
Blogger Writing Outline
This year, I’m behind on my normal content creation calendar thanks to a cross-country military move and contract work. So I’m using NaNoWriMo 2016 to get a jump on two major writing projects that need my attention: my December & 1st Quarter 2017 blog posts & my Blogging In Balance list emails for the same time period. I’m aiming for 2 blog posts and 1 email each week.
- 9 blog posts
- 5 emails
- 9 blog posts
- 4 emails + New Years
- 8 blog posts
- 4 emails
- 9 blog posts
- 4 emails
With that work in mind, my word count goal for November is 35,000. I go lower than NaNoWriMo’s usual 50k goal partially because I write blog content for a living, typically around 15k – 20k words a month. If I get all of that finished, I have 4 workbooks, a mini course and a blogging for direct sellers course that are next on the list.
Avoiding Writer’s Block
Like I mentioned above, one easy way to kill your 30 days of blogging is find yourself staring at the screen with nothing to write about. A little legwork before hand goes a long way towards eliminating this issue. I use my KickStart planning pages to plan my content – highlighting seasonal topics, choosing monthly projects or focuses and brainstorming blog post ideas. Before I start November, I have a rough title for each blog post and a Call To Action for each email so that when I sit down to write each day, I know what I’m working on.
Starting is always the easiest part for me on a longer term project like this. It’s the mid-month slog, when I’ve had a long day or I really need to run to the store or something comes up that I forgot to do, that can trip me up. But that’s the point. NaNoWriMo gives you a structure for developing the habit of writing every day – even when it’s hard.
But, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little leg up.
For me, this is all about tracking what I’ve accomplished so for so I’m motivated to push through to the end. I use tracking pages to track my word count and check off the content I’ve drafted. With each piece I cross off, I know that I’m giving myself the time and energy to really focus on promoting my content on social media and developing the community around BiB instead of having to spend time drafting.
Want to build YOUR blogging muscle?
Whether you’re jumping into NaNoWriMo or holding your own 30 days of blogging, a little structure is key.