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I don’t know why it is that November is the month with all the challenges. I guess it started with NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month.
There’s also NaNoReadMo, started by Austin Kleon, which charges readers to share a novel they loved each day of the month. (There apparently also used to be a novel reading month in December, but all the posts look old.)
You can also use this month to knit a sweater (this one was started by knitgrrl, but that’s the only real blog post I’ve seen about it so far this month). Or write a blog post every day.
I have done NaNoWriMo before, when I was childless, and there’s no doubt I’ll knit a sweater this month. I’m kind of unintentionally blogging every day, since I managed to blog on Sunday and I don’t usually blog on weekends.
Challenges are fun. They’re a great way to push yourself to work harder, to try something you might not have otherwise tried, and to have the support of a lot of like-minded people doing the same thing at the same time.
Really? One More Thing?
But November is a really awful month for challenges, be they writing challenges or some other form.
If you have kids who are home from school for Thanksgiving (the girl is out for a week) you’re automatically at a big disadvantage. And it’s just hard to focus with getting ready for the holidays and hunkering down for winter. I seem to be in the midst of some really dramatic fall cleaning that’s keeping me from wanting to do much else.
I like putting pressure on myself and trying hard things and pushing to do better.
I hate challenges that are all or nothing, so that if you fail to post on November 4, or 16, or 29 you feel like you’ve failed.
What to Try Instead
Maybe I favor a gentler approach. Instead of trying to write daily, why not instead try to write more? Or more honestly? Or to take more time with your posts to really try to make them good?
To write that post or tell that story you’ve always wanted to but never have because it feels hard or you have to make something or do something or stir something up to write it.
Set a great big goal if that’s your thing (or don’t, if its not), but be kind to yourself if you don’t meet a number goal.
If you have produced more or better content then you would have otherwise, that’s great.
If you write one thing you’re proud of, that’s a win.
If you’re having fun and not feeling the unneeded pressure of outside forces dictating what you should be doing, that’s probably the best thing of all.
[Tweet “November brings lots of challenges, but remember to have fun.”]
So challenge yourself, by all means. Stretch higher this month, this week, today, than you have previously. Celebrate that success and build on it.
But don’t feel like you have to write every day if you’ve only been blogging sporadically for months.
Make progress on your own terms.
No one needs more pressure during the impending holiday season to do one more thing, so I give you permission to ignore whatever challenge you feel like you should try that also feels like too much to deal with right now.
Write your novel in April. Blog every day in July. Whatever works for you. Or don’t, if that works for you.
This is not to say you shouldn’t try if the idea is exciting to you, but please don’t feel pressured to jump on the daily blogging/novel writing/sweater knitting bandwagon if it’s not something you really want to do.
Have you taken on a challenge this month? How’s it going? I’d love to hear about it, and what you think about trying a less challenging challenge.