NaNoWriMo and Other 30-Day Challenges

If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, that may look like a mess of nonsense. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, held in the month of November. Since 1999, millions have participated, using the month to write a novel of at least 50,000 words.

If you do the math, you can see a writer needs to achieve almost 1,700 words a day, for each of 30 days, to meet this goal. It’s a big challenge, even to create an unedited “shitty first draft.” It requires designating time every day to focus on one task.

Of course, you can challenge yourself to any realm of achievement for 30 days, whether it is a health objective or creative endeavor or to improve a personal relationship. It’s a bit different from a new year’s resolution, often made open-ended and without a clear objective. A 30-day challenge requires a clear objective: every day for 30 days in a row, you will do ______. Easy as pie.

Austin Kleon, artist, author, and creative cheerleader, recommends making that commitment over and over, one day at a time. Even though each day’s progress might not seem like much, over time it adds up. Another benefit is if you have a bad day, you can go to bed knowing you get to try again the next day.

He also provides a calendar of sorts, so you can track your progress for your challenge. It’s a free download at this link.

The other day I wrote about my desire to re-engage with blogging, and the commitment that requires. I’ve decided to go for the 30-day challenge on it. This is day 5, so already I’m a sixth of the way through. šŸ™‚ Some days my posts may be at the blog I share with Jim, Our View From Iowa, though most of them will be here. Some days I may re-post earlier writings. And they surely won’t all be high quality. That’s okay. There is value to me in the effort, regardless.

Have you ever participated in a 30-day challenge? How did it go? Are you interested in doing one? What is your objective for achievement? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

25 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo and Other 30-Day Challenges

  1. tierneycreates

    Yes I heard about this challenge! Congratulations on participating in it. You know you have enough in your blog to put together one of those quilting instructional books mixed with a quilting lifestyle book! I keep wanting to post each day and I am thinking about doing that…maybe šŸ™‚

  2. KerryCan

    The only 30-day challenge I can remember was writing what seemed like a zillion advent posts last December (I guess it was really only about 25 . . . plenty for my taste). Are you writing a novel with NaNoWhatever it is is? Or applying the principle to 30 days of blog posting? I get confused . . .

  3. Shasta

    I did participate in a 30 day writing challenge a few times, and I found it quite useful. The challenge helped keep me writing, even when I thought what I wrote was terrible. I do need to have another one of those challenges.

  4. Paula Hedges

    I must make a commitment for the next 16 days to complete a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt from 2 years ago that I am still in the process of piecing and cutting out pieces (that girl sure likes lots of pieces in her quilts!). I need to take it with me to California for my son and his wife as a surprise gift. With that said, I must get off this computer! If I am successful, I’ll post a photo!

  5. zippyquilts

    I did Richard Hittleman’s 28 day yoga program back in the 80s, and I still do yoga almost daily. Of course, this overlooks many other challenges that may not have had such lasting effect!

  6. shoreacres

    I wrote about NaNoWriMo once, many years ago. I titled the post “NoMoWriMo.” I’m so averse to the idea of producing crap just to meet a goal, I can’t even tell you. On the other hand, I know it’s been useful for others, and several friends and acquaintances have completed the challenge. A couple threw their drafts away, one still is working on revisions, but they were satisfied in different ways, so that’s good.

    When I began blogging, I did decide that, given the nature of my posts, one per week would be reasonable. I’ve kept to the schedule, more or less, for nearly ten years. My biggest worry in the beginning was that I’d run out of things to write about. So far, so good!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I totally get that. I think it isn’t a helpful exercise for everyone. But I look at it somewhat like going to the gym. At one end of the space are words painted on the wall. It says something like “Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going.” For many people, having an intention (and following through) for one change in behavior for a time can be enough to start a habit. I certainly won’t continue on a daily basis — heck, I’m not even sure I can meet the challenge. But writing is important to me and I really haven’t felt like it for quite a while. So I’ll try this. What’s the worst that can happen? šŸ™‚

  7. katechiconi

    I could never do it! If I set out out to try, I have a sort of magnetic attraction for things that get in the way of writing and posting. There was one month a year or so back when I decided I’d post every day. It was a spectacular crash and burn! Personally, I do much better if I don’t set artificial challenges.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I understand completely. It isn’t something I’ve done before and I’m not sure I can succeed. But for me I think there will be some value in trying. Of course, you don’t need to challenge yourself to blogging. It could be anything, such as “every day I will say ‘thank you’ to my husband for something.” ?? Small but meaningful… šŸ™‚

  8. Stephanie Collins

    That is a great challenge and hopefully it will inspire me to blog more also! It is race season (hubby and I are runners) so I haven’t spent a lot of time quilting which means very little blogging! We have 7 races between now and Christmas so I would rather be out pounding the pavement in my spare time but I am going to try and commit to one blog post a week this month!


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