Not a Secret

Not A Secret

I’ve done NaNo on and off for most of my adult life. 2019  was the first year I had won. 2020 I won, but it was harder. Then again, what wasn’t harder in 2020? The key that swapped me from failing (though no extra word/creativity are actually a failure) to winning was twofold.


One was word sprints. It’s odd, as someone who was a stubborn pain in the ass to peer pressure as a teenager, being told to write at this time for this duration is really helpful. I think it’s kinda common in creative types that we don’t want to be told to do things, but actually end up finding structure useful to us.


Two was being a rebel. All the years I failed, I tried to write a single book. I would get a few days in and give up. In the years I was successful, I wrote anything. Added chapters to existing books. Started new short stories from word prompts. To put it simply, I worked WITH my brain instead of against it, and that allowed me to add all the words I needed to hit that goal of 50k in one month.


Of course, item two is highly personal. Actually, scratch that, all of writing is highly personal. And all of this advice comes back to what is the most important thing I can ever say on any topic – work WITH what suits you first.


Psst, I’m looking at putting together some short courses this year on getting a book written. Make sure you sign up to my newsletter if you want to hear about them. I’m thinking one specifically for small biz owners, and one along the lines of “get your first draft done”. Probably $50.


Not A Secret

11 Replies to “Not a Secret”

  1. Nice post. And I think it all evolves so as long as you’re writing something, it’s moving forwards

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Yep, as much as I don’t want to focus on productivity or outcomes over other aspects, sometimes you do want to feel like it’s going somewhere.

  2. I’ve never done NaNo but take my hat off to those who do, well done for the effort that must go into this sort of challenge. I like working with your brain rather than against it! #lifethisweek

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      NaNo can be a good brain sweat 🙂 The community is great too.

  3. I am all for work with what works for you – morning person, night person, evening person, word sprints or counts, timers or snatched time – anything that works for you and helps you keep going and progressing.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Exactly! No point squishing yourself into someone else’s ideal.

  4. I want to write a children’s book. I have all the concepts worked out. Think that I can find time to do it? Hah! Good luck to you. 😀

  5. It really is about what works for you – and there really is no one formula. I’ve been stuck on a single scene for a week now & today skipped ahead a few & the words are working again.

  6. I’m so impressed that you follow through on your ideas and plans Vanessa. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m questioning if I really do want to pursue writing etc or if by making it into something I feel I SHOULD do, I’ve taken the joy from it.

  7. I don’t think I’d ever be able to do to NaNo but have enormous admiration for those who do! I think you’ve nailed it because we work best when we do it in a way that suits us and wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?!

  8. I remember you deciding to give it a go last November…and then actually doing it…all through being at work and Covid…and being unwell from time to time.

    I think it is great you know yourself so well. And you do what works for you.

    Thanks for being a consistent, caring and contributing blogger to this community I call #lifethisweek. Next week we are sharing our snaps (photos) and that’s an optional prompt. See you next Monday, I hope, as always.

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