If you knew me between 2012 and 2021, you may remember my fondness for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month occurs every November. It is a compelling challenge to writers to crank out 50,000 words on their current WIP (work in progress) between 12:01 on November 1 and 11:59 on November 30. I’ve participated six times. However, since I’m between fiction projects this year, I thought about other ways to develop a November challenge.
I have a long history of creating challenges. In 2021 I created OcTraPiMo (October Trash Pick-up Month). My challenge was to pick up trash around the community each day and share my results with readers.
In November 2022 I created NoCluHoMo with the intention of reducing clutter around my home.
In January 2023, I created the AAA (Active Ajax Adventures) project involving 52 rambles (covering 320 miles together) to unique green spaces without any duplicates. You could say the creative child in me likes to be challenged periodically. These projects are my way of satisfying both needs.
A New November Challenge Is Born
As October reached an end, memories of NaNoWriMo beckoned. I played around with the Latin root “nov” (meaning new). What about innovation? Launching a new company is certainly innovative, but I wanted something restorative, not stressful.
How about renovating some areas of our house? We did an extensive home remodel eighteen years ago and have zero desire to repeat that stress. Could I do something with the words novice, novelty, or novel reading (not writing?)
Taking a Test Drive
On October 30, I took a trial run with “novelty.” I sent several messages to friends I’ve lost touch with over the past year and was pleasantly surprised when I received warm replies.
I’ve done plenty of letter-writing challenges before, sending notes to my parents in celebration of anniversaries or birthdays, the number of correspondences matching the number of years. Been there, done that. What else might I try?
On October 31, I chose a different path. I started a pork shoulder in the Dutch oven first thing in the morning to guarantee I had protein for the week. Yum. Cooking requires time I can’t really spare this month, so trying a new recipe every day wouldn’t work. But what if I simply did something new each day?
Kicking Off My November Challenge
On the first day of November, rather than driving an hour to the mountains (as originally planned), I headed to Magnuson Park with Ajax. Our target was looking for a snow bunting, a rarity I had only seen once before. I don’t do much birding in the fall, mainly because the only birds available are residents. We recorded 23 bird species, no bunting, but plenty of waterfowl!
Thursday morning, I went outside in the rain in the dark to do a few of my physical therapy exercises while grounding at the same time. Friday I generated a possible script for a video using assistance from Chat GPT. On Saturday, my daughter and I visited Hobby Lobby for holiday crafting supplies. And today I’m enjoying reading a graphic memoir, Kid Gloves. My “novelty” November challenge is off to a good start.
Creating Your Own November Challenge
Now it’s your turn. How might you insert some novelty into your life? Can you come up with ways to manage your stress, embrace change, and tap into your creativity this month?
Here are eleven ideas (November is, after all, the eleventh month of the year!) to get you started. They all begin with the letters “N-O” and can be done in November without investing significant resources.
Challenge Ideas 1-5
No: Just say no to something you really don’t want to do. Put yourself first.
No Negativity: Consciously avoid negative self-talk and pessimistic thoughts.
Nocturnal Walk: Enjoy the crisp night air with an evening walk, embracing the tranquility and freshness. We set the clocks back an hour so we have more night darkness to deal with. Enjoy it!
Nomad Day: Spend a day exploring a part of your community you don’t usually visit. Notice and name whatever captures your attention. You may discover a part of yourself that goes underappreciated!
Nonchalant Attitude: Adopt a carefree approach towards minor setbacks. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I write down a few wins from the current or previous day to remind myself that yes, I AM moving forward. (You may recall this practice from The Gap and The Gain.)
Challenge Ideas 6-11
Nonjudgmental Listening: Practice listening to loved ones, friends, and colleagues with love, not judgment.
Notes of Appreciation: Write thank-you notes or express gratitude to loved ones.
Notice Nature: Spend time observing the subtle changes in nature as we approach winter.
Nourish Your Body: Focus on eating with awareness and appreciation for all the wonderful things your unique body can do.
Novel Reading: Escape into a fictional world by enjoying a book in a genre you don’t usually read.
Now: What have you been putting off that you could tackle today? Can you spend five minutes on it? What one thing can you prioritize for November so you stop feeling overwhelmed?
November Challenge Takeaways
Which ideas resonate with you? How might you create your own self-supported and motivating challenge for the next few weeks?
Whatever you choose to focus on, have a way to track your “wins” whether that is reflecting on your day and noting what you did that was new or required a beginner’s mindset.
Periodically review what’s working for you so that you can adjust your challenge to serve you.
Share your results in the comments so that others can benefit from our collected wisdom. Good luck with your novelty November!