5 Ways to Prepare for a 30-Day Memoir Writing ChallengeOct 31, 2022
Fall is my favorite season for creativity. To capitalize on this seasonal surge in creativity, I’m hosting Write Your Own Life’s first NaMeWriMo 30-Day Memoir Writing Challenge. (Psst, the challenge starts on November 1st, so now's your chance to sign up!)
NaMeWriMo is a spin-off of the popular National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. The math works out to an average of 1,700 words a day to "win" the 50k-word challenge on November 30th.
For our NaMeWriMo challenge, you can strive for the 50,000-word goal. Or not. The main thing is to decide in advance what you want your NaMeWriMo goal to be and then go after it.
Prepare for a Marathon
To get the most out of your month-long memoir writing challenge, here are five ways to prepare for it:
1. Set a word count goal. As I mentioned above, NaNoWriMo’s challenge involves writing 50,000 words from November 1 to November 30. That’s 1,667 words a day. For the purpose of a 30-day writing challenge, set an overall word count goal and then break it down to a daily average word count.
(FYI, a typical memoir can run anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 words or more, so you'll be well on your way to completing a first draft if you stick with your daily goal.) Don't get hung up on the finished length of your memoir though. Instead, focus on the story you’re trying to tell and write as fully as you can. Your final word count will be determined after you’ve edited your memoir.
2. Get ready to track your daily writing progress. Whether you use a Google doc, a Word doc, or a writing app like Scrivener, check your daily word count when you’re done writing and track it on a handwritten log sheet or on a spreadsheet. If you’re part of Write Your Own Life’s NaMeWriMo challenge, be sure to share your daily progress on our private Facebook group. Regular accountability will help you stay on track.
3. Make a plan. Or don’t. Are you a pantser, plotter, or plantser? A pantser is someone who flies by the seat of their pants, meaning they don’t plan out anything in their story, or very little. If you thrive on free-form writing, operating without an outline may be your jam.
A plotter, conversely, likes to know exactly where they’re headed in their story. They don’t start writing until they have an outline.
Plantsers are a hybrid of pantsers and plotters. You like some structure but appreciate the flexibility to explore new tangents or unanticipated twists and turns in your story.
Whichever type of writer you consider yourself to be, you’ll get more out of your daily writing if you have some sense of what you’re trying to accomplish each day. Just trying to hit your word count goal? You go! The 30-day challenge is the perfect way to develop a writing habit.
Are you trying to finish writing the second half of a memoir you’ve been working on for a while? Drafting an outline beforehand may help you stay focused so you can flesh out the remainder of your story in a meaningful way.
Enter into the challenge with your own intention and then get after it.
4. Pick your writing spot(s) ahead of time. Maybe you’ve got a favorite desk or comfy chair where you love to write. Or a coffee shop down the street with vibey background music. Make a plan ahead of time for where you’ll be the most inspired and productive to write. If it’s an at-home spot, get it ready so it’s clean, uncluttered, and ready for you to create.
5. Engage with your writing group. You are WAAAAYYY more likely to persevere toward your writing goal when you’ve got a group of other fellow writers slogging it out with you and cheering you on. Introduce yourself to the group before the challenge begins. If you've joined the Write Your Own Life 30-Day Challenge, post your daily word counts so you can share your wins. Encourage other writers. Ask for feedback. You’ll become a better writer when you share the journey with others.
Finally, if you’re brand new to writing, be sure to grab a copy of my “7 Tips to Get Started Writing Your Memoir.” You’ll learn a few more tips to help make your 30-Day Memoir Writing Challenge a success.
Get started writing your life stories.
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