It’s a bit strange to feel relaxed on November 1. For the past seven years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, the zany writing challenge where NaNo’ers write a 50K word novel in a month. That means that the first of November usually finds me frantically typing 1,667 words so that I don’t fall behind on the very first day of the challenge. Since I’m a pantser (as in flying-by-the-seat-of), not a plotter, I never have a clue what I’m going to write until I open a file on that first day and start writing.
I might be a pantser when I write, but I’m very much a plotter when it comes to challenges. NaNoWriMo appeals in part because it’s regimented, orderly, predictable: you know exactly what you have to write each and every day to reach your goal. 1,667 words. 1,667 is the magic number. I get out the calculator each day and everything.
This year, I decided to participate in Digital Writing Month. After I signed up, I kept waiting for an email to tell me exactly what to do. A list of projects and assignments, maybe even a word count tally or two. Definitely a list of tools and technologies. Maybe with how-to instructions?
No such comforting blueprint/straitjacket/crutch appeared in my inbox. I did a bit of online poking around and realized there were no requirements. I was going to have to figure it out for myself.
“#digiwrimo where the flow takes ya.”
I am NOT a no-plan, going-with-the-flow kind of person. I am more of a do-several-years-of-site-surveys-before-you-dam-up-the-river-and-divert-its-flow-to-keep-it-from-flooding-or-doing-anything-else-you-can’t-control kind of person.
But for November, I did want to get out of my comfort zone and be more creative.
What could be more uncomfortable for a control freak than HAVING NO PLAN?
Except maybe HAVING NO PLAN FOR THIRTY DAYS STRAIGHT.
But if fellow control freak Kelsey can commit to no plan, then surely I can too. Perhaps it will be good for us? (Or perhaps our worst fears will come true: WE WON’T ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING.)
And so I woke up this morning, knowing it was the first day of Digital Writing Month, and I had NO PLAN. NO GOALS. NOTHING IN PARTICULAR I WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH.
I read the Digital Writing Month Launch Party blog post. I poked around Twitter for awhile. I toyed with the idea of setting some lofty goals for myself for the month. I should complete and publish every unfinished draft sitting in the Drafts folder of my blog. And while I’m at it, why not commit to a 30-day blogging challenge? I could live tweet something worth live tweeting. I could learn how to do podcasts, vlogs. Do I need an online avatar? Maybe I should design a MOOC.
These were not sounding like going-with-the-flow kind of plans.
Start small. Go with the flow. Resist the need to plan.
Other DigiWriMo’ers were following the invitation in the Launch Party blog post and posting photos and Vines to Twitter. I liked seeing the photos of their offices and studies and libraries and cats and dogs. So that’s what I did too.
I posted a couple of pictures of my two favorite work environments on Twitter.
I created a Vine account and downloaded the app onto my phone. In about 5 seconds, I was ready to create my own Introduction Vine.
It’s an introduction to three of my six sleeping cats. There’s no sound because I totally forgot about sound, but hey, the cats are sleeping so there’s a good reason to be quiet and not disturb them. In retrospect, it totally seemed like the right artistic choice.
I’ve tweeted, Vined, joined Instagram, and written a blog post.
I did something new. And that’s what I want November to be about: doing something new each day. Figuring it out as I go along.
And so today, I am celebrating waking up with no plan, resisting the urge to set goals, and going with the flow.