NaNoWriMo – 3 Ways To Mentally Prepare Yourself As A Mom for November (Or Your Own NaNoWriMo Experience), Episode 149

This solo episode is for a mom contemplating or getting ready for NaNoWriMo. It’s divided into three parts. I want to share with you a little background into why I am going in this direction with my podcast Unimaginable Wellness the podcast for moms writing nonfiction, then I’ll share my personal NaNoWriMo epic fail as a mom who had to make massive adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances, and then how I had to get myself mentally prepared to create my own NaNoWriMo experience. In the end, I will invite you to reach out to me on Instagram @melissallarena if you will be one of the brave mom souls who will be embarking on this year’s NaNoWriMo adventure or if you will be creating one of your own. I have a mom-friendly ONE-PAGE worksheet with blank-page busting questions and fun tips that will keep you in your seat fit for moms who want to write their own non-fiction books.

Some background on why I am going in this direction with my podcast Unimaginable Wellness the podcast for moms writing nonfiction

Staying mentally grounded for me personally is a HUGE priority. This is why I decided to pivot this podcast into Unimaginable Wellness where you can expect weekly Mindfulness + Journaling + Wellness Habits For Moms Writing Nonfiction. I was raised by a single mom who has Manic Depression. On my dad’s side, one of my first memories was visiting a nursing home and seeing my great-aunt Eladia who suffered from Alzheimer’s. I do not have a mental illness and I have the memory of a small elephant. So, to the extent that I can continue to keep my brain bubble-wrapped and retain my sanity at ALL costs, I will. And in my over 40 years of living on this planet and carrying a chip on my shoulder about my writing skills, I have uncovered the holistic wellness practices that have worked for me both during my pre-mom days as well as my mom “in the thick of it” days. So this podcast is my way of sharing what I’ve learned has helped me stay calm, courageous, and banging on my keyboard no matter what my day has brought me. So I’m pivoting this podcast for us both. My writing journey has helped me retain my sense of self every single day along my journey as a mom. I believe writing can help you do the same too. Now, why non-fiction? Every summer during my Catholic school days, I had to read some classic fiction book Pride & Prejudice or The Great Gatsby. I was such a procrastinator that every summer I found myself inhaling these books just to get a gist for them and write those book reports in time for the first day of school. I didn’t enjoy having to read books that were made up. Babysitters Club? Not interested. My life back then has ZERO resemblance to the books I was made to read nor told I should enjoy reading until I was 12. That’s when I got my period. I didn’t know ANYTHING about my period. So my mom took me to the library and I was told to take out books about my period. I was SO curious about what was happening to me right then and there that I read all the books I could get my hands on about puberty. Something unlocked for me. I was learning something that was relevant to me and that made me feel more informed. In hindsight, back then it’s like I discovered that I could enjoy books, and my penchant for non-fiction books began. I’m still that non-fiction reader and right now I’m writing my own non-fiction book too. And after speaking with over 100 podcast guests since 2017, it’s also my opinion that there is SO much more stuff to learn about real people’s lives, family recipes, cultures, sea creatures, academic subjects, and historical events that non-fiction is still where it’s at.  So now that you have a better sense of this podcast twist, let’s discuss:

Now I’ll share my personal NaNoWriMo epic fail as a mom who had to make massive adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances

What Is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists.

Now, school breaks differ around the world but from a US perspective, November includes Thanksgiving break. So while the ambition is for you to write 1,667 words per day including on weekends, during Thanksgiving week, and day too. You may want to preplan for that now in October as to not find yourself breaking out in hives and rushing yourself to the ER because you had to skip sleep. I just had to lead with the timing of NaNoWriMo because it may not be realistic for you to participate in November. This is why in this week’s episode, I want to shield you from disappointment by making these 3 ideas doable whether you decide to go all-in on NaNoWriMo or create your own writing lollapalooza as I did.

Here’s my timeline as it related to NaNoWriMo in 2021 when I first set out to write my first draft

The first week of May 2021 I spoke with a 30-year-old man in NZ with no kids who suggested that I write my first book in 30-days, it was part of a coaching program to help me monetize my coaching business at the time to help executives package, pitch, and position themselves into top marketing roles in corporations. I had three sons and I am the primary caregiver in my family. I didn’t have a babysitter nor housekeeper during my 3.5 years in Australia so the assumption was that I could push out a book in 30-days relying on my sons being in school. I accepted the challenge. It wasn’t in November. I put pen to paper on May 18, 2021. I didn’t have a roadmap. I was just writing like a maniac. Praying for a salient book idea then in June Australia announced a lockdown that would last 106-days. P.S. my kids were on a holiday break before then so in May I was already in mommy mode. So on August 27, 2021, I signed up for an account with NaNoWriMo. It offers SO many resources…community, prompts, author inspiration, and plenty for fiction writers, but essentially it’s its own container so you can immerse yourself in all that is writing. Fast-forward to October 19, 2022, and today is when I decided to verify my new NaNoWriMo account. Essentially, as a mom during that era, I barely had time to just write, I was not about to consume videos, meet new people for accountability, and now learn a new web platform if writing was a tall order for me. So instead, I decided to do my own lollapalooza of writing 1,000 words a day, and here is what it took for me as a mom to bubblewrap my sanity during the process.

And here is ultimately how I had to get myself mentally prepared to create my own NaNoWriMo Experience

1. Setting up your own high stakes and deciding on a minute-by-minute basis at times whether you’ll be a writer or a mom at the moment.

2. Sacred writing space and writing getaways are hilarious for moms. Listen for how I set up an invisible force field whether I had door locks or not (and during a lockdown when zero cafes were open)

3. 1,667 words a day for 30-days or packing nuts like a squirrel at 2,500 a day once in a while. You will need mental transitions between being a mom vs. a writer or you’ll be bitter. Did you hear mine?

I’m excited for you. Super excited for you. So here is how to get your very own for free my mom-friendly ONE-PAGE worksheet with blank-page busting questions and fun tips that will keep you in your seat.

Send me a DM with the word NANO. Are you on Instagram? Follow me on @melissallarena


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Want to continue the conversation?

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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