Suffering the Fear of Missing Out During NaNoWriMo Prep

Exploring the Craft

You don’t have to write a novel this November

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) hits many writers at this time of year as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) preparations begin. We fear we don’t have any ideas, won’t have the time, or maybe just don’t want to write a novel but something else. What we’re afraid of missing is NaNo’s collective support and energy. All those write-ins, sprints, forum and Discord conversations, they provide a shared energy around writing like nothing else.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

But if we don’t have an idea for a novel, or don’t feel we can commit to 50,000 words in a month, we’re going to miss all that writing positivity, and that hurts.

Any words written in November are words you won’t have to write in December.

But you don’t have to write 50,000 words of a novel to participate. You don’t even have to write 50,000 words of anything. Just write. Write when you can. Soak up some of that positive energy for yourself. Any words written in November are words you won’t have to write in December.

Here are things you can do instead of writing a novel. I’ve measured them out to be the equivalent of 50,000 words, but if that’s too big a commitment, set a smaller goal. Remember, the point is to participate in the community and energy.

  • Write 2 novellas or 4 novelettes. This allows you to switch projects if you wish to get a fresh perspective, or if you get blocked on one. Getting stuck is a reason some people don’t finish their November novel. Each of these suggestions has the advantage of not getting bogged down in a single project. With these projects, you’ll also have more works ready to revise and send out or publish later.
  • Write 12 short stories. I did this one, and 6 stories ended up as the basis for a novel later, but I spent the month writing a dozen short stories ranging from 1,500 to 7,000 words. If you submit regularly to fiction markets, this can be a good way to boost your submissions in 2022.
  • Write 30 poems. This may or may not hit 50k words, but has its own reward. I know there’s National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo in April, but why not use this one too. This is the project I’ll be doing this year and my goal will be to have 30 revised and edited poems by the end of November, so my work level will be the same as if I wrote a novel.
  • Write 50 Flash pieces. Assuming 1k words per flash.

You get the point. Yes, to officially ‘win’ NaNoWriMo you must write 50k words for a novel, but I think winning at NaNo means participating in the worldwide community of writers and sharing in the creative energy that participation creates.

During October, I’ll help your NaNoWriMo prep by publishing prompts and tips for each of these project types. Sign up for the Exploring the Craft newsletter for a monthly digest of articles. You can also join my Discord Community for writing related conversation, support, and co-working.