January is the most notorious month for making resolutions and setting goals, a practice that has been in place since Roman times. But autumn is also steeped in the tradition of reevaluation, readjustment, and recommitment to life-sustaining behaviors and goals. In modern times, summer vacations—with their blend of frolic and leisure—leave most of us with refreshed, relaxed minds and bodies as we head into the final months of the year. The crisp air of fall brings an energy that was lacking in the sultry summer months. So it doesn’t surprise me that November has become a month of creative pursuits and challenges for writers and illustrators alike.
Whether it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), WNFIN (Write Non-Fiction in November), PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), or an illustrator pursuit such as SkADaMo (Sketch-A-Day Month) or a “30-Day Illustrator Challenge" (such as 30 paintings in 30 days), creative goals abound for every writer and illustrator out there. We join together from the far corners of the earth with the help of website sponsors and social media to journey through the month together, cheering on one another during this 30-day sprint.
I am hesitant to join challenges I don’t feel I can complete, as it is debilitating for my creative soul to miss goal after goal. I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, the challenge-of-choice for the young adult fiction writer I am, but that has never stopped me from setting—and achieving—a month’s worth of writing goals each November. November is rich in creativity. I lay the groundwork for my current project in September and October after my kids return to their school routines, and the daily focus in November blows open the work. It is a time I cherish, and I am able to face the energy drain of the holidays because I have fed my soul for weeks.
This year will be no exception. I will be participating in the November challenge by continuing my daily 20-minute longhand writing practice and topping that off with an additional objective to complete the revision of my latest manuscript. A friend is joining the creative push by dividing the month into four one-week buckets. She will sketch out one project a week. Another friend, who isn’t able to commit to the 50,000 words of NaNoWriMo due to the demands of her full-time job, is modifying PiBoIdMo. She is developing new ideas for her latest fantasy novel—world building, characters and plot—each day of the month.
Consistency fosters creativity. Whatever your muse, whatever your project, whatever longing you feel with respect to your craft, I am certain that November holds something special for you and your creativity. Won’t you consider joining the thousands of other writers and illustrators by setting specific, achievable and realistic goals this November? Grab an accountability buddy, set your plan, and give yourself the gift of time devoted to your craft. Let’s try it together…for 30 short days.