Are you interested in non-paying writing projects, like NaNoWriMo?
Way back in 2007, I participated in NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month provided me a way to finally write that novel that had been rolling around in my head. I finished it, and it sucked. There's a reason I write non-creative non-fiction.
Now that November is underway, I've got another novel banging around inside my head. It has elements of the novel I wrote seven years ago, as well as new ideas. I'm pretty confident that, once out of my head and staring at me from out of the computer screen, I'd hate it.
So, I'm probably not actually going to participate officially in NaNoWriMo. But this has me thinking about the way that we often give our time to projects that might not be directly profitable.
Do You Have Pet Projects Like NaNoWriMo?
I like to think that pet projects are good for you. While it's important to get paid for what you do, you can't spend your life getting paid for everything all the time. You can, but after awhile (at least I think so), it seems a little hollow if you aren't doing something just for the enjoyment of it.
This is why I write crappy novels in my head, participate in the Money Mastermind Show and the Money Tree Investing Podcast, and rant about religion and politics. These projects don't result in direct revenue for me. But I have a good time doing them.
Pet projects can also be helpful in terms of boosting your creativity and productivity. Taking a break to work on a creative endeavor can help you in the long run. Plus, if you are looking to get ideas, no matter what your writing specialty is, a pet project can help. You have the chance to meet new people, with new ideas, and that can spur you in your “regular” work, as well as for your pet projects.
How Much Time Can You Devote to Pet Projects?
The real question, as a writer, is how much time you can devote to these pet projects. One of the reasons that I am reluctant to commit to NaNoWriMo is because of the time involved. You basically have to write 1,667 words a day in order to make this work. And, for me, writing that many words of fiction — trying to be creative rather than just reporting on facts — is hard and time-consuming.
I just don't have that time.
As a freelance writer, you need to figure out how much time you have to devote to pet projects that don't bring you revenue. I've penciled in the time to work on podcasts and live web shows, partially because these are things I do with others. I'm accountable for these projects.
It's different when it comes to writing for my politics/religion rant blog, or writing a novel, because I'm only accountable to myself for these projects. I can skip a day if I feel like I need to. Or skip for weeks on end. It doesn't do much for consistency, but it's what needs to be done sometimes. My family needs to eat more than I need to finish another chapter in a novel that no one will ever read.
You really do have to consider how much time you have to devote to these projects. NaNoWriMo can be a fun project to participate in, and it can also boost your creativity. But you have to weigh it against the money you could be making. It's a delicate balance, since you need to find that place where you can enjoy your pet projects, but not put your livelihood at risk.
What do you think? What are your pet projects? And are you participating in NaNoWrimo this year?