The Growth Mindset and Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Hey! Welcome back. At the start of this month I announced my project for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is a program run every November that helps you finish (or get well on your way to finishing) a first draft of a novel. You can connect with other writers, set milestones, track your progress and participate in events designed to help you complete your manuscript. This year I have committed to writing the complete 50,000 words. Yep, 50,000 words! The last time I did NaNoWriMo was in 2017 and I committed to 13,000 words; with two kids under two I didn’t want to set an unrealistic goal for myself. I found the NaNoWriMo experience extremely motivating and it encouraged me to develop a healthy writing habit and stick to the goals I had set for myself.

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This year I’ll be working on a psychological thriller that I’ve been fleshing out for a while and needed a kick to get going. I used to be a 100% plotter, but now I’m more of a plantser (half plotter half pantser), which basically means I’m happy to see where my characters take me, but I still want an outline before I start. If you go to the NaNoWriMo Prep 101 website you can find a course outline and a workbook to help you get organised and ready to hit the ground running come November 1st. Prep lasts for 6 weeks, starts on September 12th and carries through to October 24th. Weeks are broken down by tasks, starting with the development of a story idea (if you don’t already have something you want to work on), character development, plot/outline creation, world building, preparing yourself for the challenge, and managing your time to achieve your goal. This year I know the story I want to write and while I’m a bit behind in prepping, my characters are coming to life and the plot is coming together. It’s a great course to follow and I recommend giving it a go, even if you can’t hit the exact dates they have set.

One aspect of the writing process that isn’t addresses during prep is mindset. I’m a firm believer in the growth mindset, which Dr Carol Dweck pioneered in her book Mindet: The New Psychology of Success. In it she discusses many aspects that lead towards a happier and healthier life mentally, including:

  • Being excited and motivated by challenges
  • Learning from and taking mistakes in your stride
  • Enjoying learning new things and continuing to refine skills you already have
  • Avoiding excuses as a means to protect your ego from failure (failure is a part of the process and a valuable lesson), and
  • Embracing other’s successes (it does not diminish nor take away from your own).

Instead of avoiding challenges, embrace them. Instead of giving up when you are frustrated, persevere. And instead of feeling threatened when someone else succeeds, be inspired. If you fear your writing isn’t perfect, keep writing; the more you write the better you will get. Now you may be thinking ‘that’s all easier said than done.’ Well, you’re right, but it CAN be done! If you are aware of your behaviour and persevere to change your attitude when you notice you are slipping back into the fixed mindset, then the growth mindset and the above outlooks will come more and more naturally! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip; try to identify the moment that caused you to revert mindsets so that you can be aware of it next time, then pick yourself up and keep going.

‘Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning.’

Dr Carol Dweck

If you go into NaNoWriMo reminding yourself to stick to the growth mindset, you’ll be less overwhelmed by the challenge, more likely to succeed in your goal, and it will be an overall more enjoyable experience! For a deeper look at the growth mindset check out my previous post ‘The 1 thing we’re bringing to 2021’.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo what stage of prep are you currently on? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,


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6 thoughts on “The Growth Mindset and Prepping for NaNoWriMo

    1. Absolutely! We get so caught up with writing 50k words that we forget to enjoy the challenge. Thanks so much Stuart, are you participating this year?


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