NaNoWriMo Diaries #1: First Time Participating + Writing Goals

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has arrived! During the month of November, thousands upon thousands of people come together to motivate and support one another  as they work on the rather uncomplicated yet somewhat daunting task of writing a 50,000-word novel in the span of thirty days. NaNoWriMo is also a non-profit organisation that started this event as a means for raising awareness and support for programmes that nurture fluency, literacy, and education. It is a fantastic  way to support important causes while honing one’s skills in the pursuit of professional authorship. (Please visit their website here for more information.)

My aspiration for becoming a published author has been a lifelong one and, honestly speaking, my insecurities and inadequacy issues in terms of “being good enough” within the industry tend to prevent me from giving my one-hundred-and-fifty percent to this immensely vital goal. With that being said, I do not want to remain captive to my own doubts and fears, which is why I decided to join the NaNoWriMo event this year.

At the end of 2019, I began researching and outlining a story that has been keeping residence in my mind for the better part of five years. One of my friends, and someone whom I admire greatly, published her debut novel last year and it was the motivation that I needed to finally start working on this project vehemently. Then in February, my health took a devastating turn for the worse, followed by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March—all of the chaos that stemmed henceforth from these events caused my ability to focus on that work-in-progress (WIP) to utterly dissipate. This  left me feeling horribly discouraged and hopeless.

Recently, I received a fresh new lease on life, as the cliché goes, and it really forced me into a corner of self-contemplation. I no longer wanted to be a victim to my fears and insecurities because they prevented me from living a life that could have brought me a marvellous amount of joy, or at the very least, gratification for pursuing passions that set my heart and soul on fire, regardless of whether they succeeded or not. By joining NaNoWriMo this year, I am taking a big first step in confronting the negativity that has weighed me down for the better part of seven months.

As I sat down to outline a writing schedule for the month, I thought it would be fun to keep a diary of sorts that tracks my progress, as well as the positives and negatives, of trying to write an entire book within a span of four to five weeks. Since I know there are other writers out there who may be feeling as intimidated as I have by NaNoWriMo—this is why I have not joined any previous events—I wanted to share that diary here on my blog, The Djinn Reader. Maybe my experiences can be inspiring to other folx that are looking to start crafting a book of their very own, whether they do it via a community-based event like this one or decide to go at it in a more gradual and solo manner.

A few things you can expect from these diary entries is full and complete honesty with how I am actually doing on meeting (or falling behind on) my writing goals, dealing with creative ruts or blocks, some of my processes with crafting characters or scenes, etc., and other general issues that tend to arise when tackling a project of this calibre. I shall also be open to answering any questions that may arise during this event if I am able to do so.

With that out of the way, here are my main eight goals for NaNoWriMo this year as I begin work on an adult fantasy novel:

  • Write for at least 2-hours every day with short breaks every half-hour
  • Write approximately 11,000 words per week (7-day period), or 1,666 words per day
  • Experiment with different outlining methods, even if they are completely outside of your comfort zone
  • Finish the novel or finish most of it (this is in case if the story surpasses 50,000 words) by midnight on November 30th.
  • Do not erase what has been written until the first proofreading session, once the novel is completed
  • Do not get discouraged by comparing your progress/successes to others!
  • Stay hydrated
  • Have fun

This list is a good combination of both my strengths and weaknesses. For example, it is fairly easy for me to write for multiple hours per day with a finished word count that supersedes one to two thousand words. However, I am terrible with taking creative risks during my outlining process due to my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), even if I feel like those risks would be greatly beneficial to structuring the current project or manuscript that I am working on. I am also quite terrible at not comparing myself to others, which is something that I think everyone struggles with to various degrees, and staying hydrated.

As I mentioned above, my book is an adult fantasy novel that is inspired heavily by both my Indian and iTaukei (native Fijian) ethnicities and cultures, particularly where world-building is concerned, and features a cast of LGBTQIA+ characters, including a Nonbinary main character (#OwnVoices), a pansexual main character, and a lesbian main character.

While I am feeling a bit anxious and quite nervous about the prospect of trying to write an entire novel during a single month, I am also feeling wonderfully excited and optimistic. Even if I am not able to complete the manuscript, I feel as though this will become a supremely educational lesson for me in terms of content creating, and I am looking forward to those insights with great joy.

Please feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo if you would like. I may not update my progress every single day, but I will try to do it at least a few times throughout the week. [Shāfiya’s NaNoWriMo Profile] For other writing updates, feel free to visit my Twitter page.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you partaken in previous years? How do you feel about this writing event?