Thursday, November 5, 2015

Strengthen Your Writing Muscles with NaNoWriMo

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.

There are a million reasons not to, but I’m doing it anyway.

Are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? NaNo, as it’s often abbreviated, stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a new, 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

That’s 1,667 words every day for thirty days.

I’ve done it before. I’ve “won” NaNo twice. (I’ve written about it here and here).

But that was years ago. This year? Well, it’s not really a good year.

Here are a few of my reasons for NOT doing NaNo. Maybe you can relate?
  • It’s November. No one should attempt anything crazy in November or December. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and we will be hosting my husband’s side of the family for the big day. Not only that, but there are only eight Fridays until Christmas (go ahead and start hyperventilation now).
  • I homeschool. This is new for our family and we are still figuring out how to do this thing. We don’t get to take the month of November off so Mommy can write.
  • I’m doing a Whole30. I am slap in the middle of a thirty day nutritional reset. That means no sugar. No chocolate. No lattes. It means a lot of cooking, a lot of meal preparation, and not having the option to say, “I’ve been writing, let’s order a pizza,” at least for the first half of the month. This is a bad time to commit to a writing challenge.
  • I haven’t even started yet! Before I can begin a new project, I have to finish my WIP and as I type these words, I’m still 3-5K away from typing “The End.”

So, to review. I’m busy. It’s a hectic time of year. I have already made commitments to my family and my health that require a lot of time and mental energy, and it’s challenging enough to do it in thirty days, but I’ll be trying to cram it in to twenty-five.

At this point, some of you are considering an intervention. You’re already warming up to comment with things like, “Um, sweetie, you know this might be a good year to consider skipping NaNo.” Or maybe, “You’re being too hard on yourself. You need to build in some margin and not pile so much on your plate.” Maybe some of you will be little more blunt and you’re ready to go with, “You’ve lost your ever-loving mind.”

I hear you. But I’m doing it anyway.

Not only that, but even though it’s already November 5th and you may not have been planning to do it, I think YOU should consider giving it a go.

Here’s why.

At my CrossFit box, we occasionally do these super short, super intense workouts. A few weeks ago our Coach explained that when we push ourselves to the limit during these short workouts, what we are really doing is building up our endurance and strength for the longer workouts.

No one can or should push themselves that hard all the time. But short, intense workouts? They help you get faster in your normal workouts.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Writing challenges like NaNoWriMo help you build your creative muscles. You push yourself hard for 30 days, and when you get back to your “normal” life? That 10K a month or 1K a day you’d like to maintain feels like nothing. You sit down to write and hit that session goal so fast you haven’t even had time to break a sweat.

Writing challenges also mimic the real life of real authors. Would you care to guess why I didn’t participate in NaNo last year? My copyedits for Covert Justice were due…wait for it…the Monday before Thanksgiving. My final edits were due two weeks after that, smack dab in the middle of the holidays. That’s right. In the real publishing world, editorial calendars don’t make many, if any, concessions for holidays, or your family vacation, or your new diet. If you want to be a published author, you’re going to have to learn to write/revise/market your books no matter what else is going on in your life. NaNo is just a tiny taste of that.

Lastly, writing challenges make the hard work fun. Writing, by its very nature, is often a solitary endeavor, but when you participate in a world-wide challenge, you aren’t going it alone. There are over 300,000 writers participating this year. That might be encouraging at 11PM when you are still 1,600 words away from your goal for the day.
It’s really not too late. Start today. You can go official and sign up on the website, or devise your own challenge. Maybe it’s a word count (1K/day - no excuses) or a timed goal (30 minutes a day - no excuses). Make it challenging and don’t quit.

You have nothing to lose except a bit of writing flab. What you’ll gain in creative muscle will pay off for years to come. Even if you don’t hit your target, you’ll be a stronger writer when it’s over than you are right now!

So how about it? Are you doing NaNo this year? Share your NaNo name so we can be buddies! (I’m LynnHB). Are you making up your own goal? Let’s talk about it in the comments. The best kinds of challenges are the ones you’ve made public!

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Strengthen Your #Writing Muscles with #NaNoWriMo - via @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

#NaNoWriMo is a great way to jump start your #writing goals - @LynnHBlackburn (Click to Tweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. 

She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. 

She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. Oh, Lynn, I LOVE this! I NEEDED this! I thought my life was crazy (and hence, that meant I was crazy) to even try to do it. But your life makes my life look wimpy!

    This is my first time and I've written every day so far, but haven't reached the goal on every day. But hey, I figure that whether I reach it or not, at the of November, I'll be a long way ahead of where I would be if I didn't participate! Thanks for the encouragement. You go, girl!

    1. Vonda! I haven't reached the goal every day either, but I'm working on it when I can and making progress and like you said...."a long way ahead of where I would be if I didn't participate" :)! Can't wait to hear what your final word count is!

  2. Ouch! Hmmmmmm..............! But, but............ Thanks.

  3. Replies
    1. I'm glad this encouraged you! I will probably need to re-read it...tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...

  4. We must be living parallel lives! I, too, am: hosting for thanksgiving, homeschooling my four kids, have dietary requirements (Celiac's disease). In addition to all that, I'm back in school this semester for the first time in almost 20 years! I literally have no time in the day for NaNo. None. But NaNo is important to me; it's what I want to do and who I am. So my solution is getting up at 4:30am to write. And to my delight, the American lit paper I had due this week ( only 800-1000 words) came so easily b/c my writing brain has been in full swing. So YES - let's do crazy together!

    1. Wow! You ARE busy!!! I love being crazy with friends!! :)