NaNoWriMo 2017

I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I know, strange to hear an author say that, but here are the five reasons why I won’t be joining in the “fun”.

 

  • I Already Wrote Three First Drafts This Year – Not quite the four per year of more established romance authors, but I feel like it’s still an accomplishment. Maybe not the book in a month of NaNoWriMo, but clearly I already have the motivation to produce.

 

  • I have Five Books That Need Revising – In addition to the three new first drafts I produced this year, I also have two other books in need of revision. I need to be focusing on that as much, if not more, than producing new content right now.
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Yeah, about like that.

 

  • Prep Book For Publishing – I am seriously considering the self-publishing route right now. I’ve been querying a completed book, and I haven’t found any agents interested. But this means I need to spend some of my writing time formatting the book and figuring out how to launch it rather than write.

 

  • I want My Family to NOT Hate Me – This is a big one. I have that full time day job, and November is one of my busiest times of the year. Even busier than year-end and tax season. Combine that with Thanksgiving, two amazing kids, and a wonderful spouse, and they just don’t need the crap. Seriously. Trying to churn out 1.7k words a day is hard. It’s daunting. And it requires a commitment from the whole family I’m not willing to ask.

 

  • Stress Kills Creativity –  For me, NaNoWriMo isn’t motivating, it’s stressful. That makes it even harder to be creative, especially in an already stressful time of my life.
stressed
Me starting mid-October to April 16th

 

  • I Want Writing to Stay Fun – The reason I write is because I love to create character and worlds. I love to see good triumph and get my happily-ever-after. I’ve loved reading since I was a small kid, and I decided I wanted to write after reading some books with crappy endings. I wanted control. To see things resolved properly. No control issues here. Nope. None at all.
control
Me reading a book. Yup.

The one thing I’ve learned is every writer is different. What works for me doesn’t work for them. So, if NaNoWriMo is something that helps a writer achieve their goals, great!

I simply haven’t found it helpful, and for things like work-life-family balance, I’ve found it detrimental. I’m much happier with my five-hundred words-a-day goal. A lot of days I get more, but most days I get at least the five-hundred. It works for me.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, I’ll still be here, but I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines.

How about you? Do you find deadlines like NaNoWriMo beneficial? Do deadlines help motivate you? Or do you find the added stress actually makes it harder to achieve your goals?

The Power of Stretch Goals to Help You Fail

Most of us who have spent any time in corporate America are familiar with SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-Based.

 

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Or to look at them and laugh while you pour yourself a glass of wine

Nanowrimo meets all of these.

For those not familiar, Nanowrimo is in the month of November, and writers strive to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. There are support groups to help get there. Most writers ask spouses to help out with more around the house during the month. I’ve even heard of people pre-making suppers for a month so they can focus on writing.

As you can imagine, this is a massive goal. It equates to roughly 1,700 words a day, every day, during a month that includes Thanksgiving.

For most of us, this is a HUGE stretch goal. Especially if we aren’t used to doing that many words a day.

My personal goal is five-hundred words a day. I’ve found this manageable. I sometimes write more, sometimes less, but it gets books done.

While I support every one who attempts NaNoWriMo, my fear is that it discourages more people than it helps because it is so hard to achieve.

Even if you don’t write, you get how de-motivating a goal you see as impossible is. Or at least, a goal that becomes impossible a little ways into trying to achieveit.

And science agrees with you. Here are seven reasons why unrealistic stretch goals can sometimes make you fail:

  1. You don’t consider your resources –  In the example of NaNoWriMo, you have to consider how many hours a day you actually have to write. If you’re goal is to learn a new language, same thing. How much time do you have? If we assume you sleep seven hours a night, that leaves seventeen hours. Most of us have day jobs, that include a commute. That leaves seven hours. Still, sounds like a lot. Until you remember those seven hours also include exercising, helping the kids with their homework, making dinner, showering, spending time with your spouse, etc. Maybe an hour a day is still realistic, maybe it isn’t. But it’s something to think about.

 

  1. Focused on Short Term – When you set a short term goal, you have to consider the cost of achieving the goal. Let’s say your goal is to rebuild the engine on your classic car in a month. How is your family going to respond to mac & cheese every night (my toddler excluded)? How long does it take to rebuild support from your spouse? The last thing you want is your cheering section at home to become another obstacle you face. Don’t believe me? Imagine if one of your co-workers came to you and said they were taking on a special project, and as such, you’d be expected to stay and work unpaid overtime for the next month.

 

  1. Focus Exclusively on the Goal –   If you focus exclusively on a narrow goal, you can miss other areas that are important. Like editing. Plotting. Character development. Spending a little bit of time on the front end can really help with the story and make the rewriting process a little less painful. And, if the goal is word count, how do you judge editing? Particularly when editing can involve negative word count? Yet, editing is such a vital process of writing.

 

  1. Goal Impresses Rather than Guides –  I’ve seen people like this. “I’m going to do 100 push-ups” is a great goal. But, you don’t go from spending your days playing Mario Kart to doing 100 push-ups. You need a plan with smaller goals. Whatever your ultimate goal, you’ve got some work to do before you get there.

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  1. Failing can be Excusable – When you set unrealistic goals, it’s easy to excuse not meeting them because, well, they weren’t all that achievable. They were a stretch goal, and you weren’t able to stretch that much.

 

  1. Failing becomes Accepted – Once you can be excused for not reaching the goal, failing becomes acceptable. How many people fail to ever be able to do a 5k run that started the process and are totally fine with it?

 

goals3
All of our bosses have set one of these.
  1. Failing becomes Expected – Once failure becomes expected, well, you don’t really have a goal anymore, do you? I know I’ve seen this in corporate America more times than I can count

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So, while goal-setting has a lot of positive effects, it has some dark sides that people don’t always consider.

It gets back to the “attainable” part of SMART goals. Not attainable only when the planets align, but attainable on most days if we push for it.

So, perhaps not the Nanowrimo sprint, but maybe a five-hundred words per day marathon. Yes, it’s going to take 3.5 months to get the same 50,000 words, but perhaps that’s a habit you can maintain without your spouse threatening to throw your computer in the front lawn.

 

How about you? Have you ever found goal-setting to be de-motivating? Or maybe you’re just the opposite and goal setting really inspires you. How do you set your goals? How do you measure success?