I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but on my own terms, the way I do pretty much everything. I am not following word counts; I find numbers triggering. When I decided that I needed to lose weight, I experimented for about a year to find a way of eating that I could live with and that made my body feel good. I tweaked it until it felt comfortable and worked for me. I don’t weigh myself—again, numbers—but I am swimming in my relaxed fit jeans.

My basic approach to eating follows a few rules, but not obsessively. I avoid fast food and junky snacks. I’m not big on sweets, but I love crunchy and salty, so I have replaced potato chips with popcorn and baked chick peas. I eat mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with occasional eggs, chicken or fish. I am trying to find ways to fit more exercise into my routine. It’s an evolving plan.

I am taking the same approach to writing. I want it to be something that is a natural part of my life, not a chore or a treat that I never get to. My goal is to write daily and NaNoWriMo is perfect for that. I hope it can help me form daily habits that work for me the same way changing my eating habits did. But, again, no numbers.

Many people get caught up in the word counts and beat themselves up if they don’t make a daily goal. Others assume that the more words you have, the better your writing is, which is untrue. The best writing says what it needs to say with the fewest, but the best-chosen, words. I find that getting the idea down at the draft stage is what is important. It will be refined during editing.

Once again, I am not focusing on numbers, but rather on scenes. It feels like a more natural division to me than saying I will write 2,000 words a day. Scenes are encapsulated, and while they connect to create a whole, they have a definite beginning and ending. Some scenes are short and easy to write, while others are more involved, but I have been finishing at least one scene a day.

As with my eating habits, I think this can work for me and help me establish a regular writing practice. I want more than a rough draft at the end of November. I want a writing life.


The photo is of my cat, Cleo, snuggled into a Mewgaroo hoodie. She is enjoying this more sedentary period very much.




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