Monday, November 21, 2016

Why I Set So Many Goals & Deadlines (And How It Can Work for YOU, too!) #NaNoWriMo2016

November is here, folks. For a lot of you, that means it's time for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month! Aspiring authors and just-for-fun writers join together to try to complete the impossible task of writing a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days! Sound ridiculous? It is! But that's also why it's so great. The challenge is awesome. 

Personally, I've written so many books in the last 4 (almost) years, that I don't feel compelled to participate in NaNoWriMo anymore - I'm always working on a book at any given time during the year. However, I do use NaNoWriMo as a fun motivation to work faster on any chosen manuscript for the month of November! 

There's a manuscript (and it shall not be named at this time) that I've been working on for the past 10 days. On a whim, I decided that I was finally going to bring this particular book to fruition, and in order to pull off the release that I wanted, I would have to write a complete, full-length manuscript in 15 days. Bear in mind that this manuscript would also have to be relatively clean, well-researched and in need of only minor edits and modifications. There wouldn't be time to spend weeks and weeks on deep edits. 

Sounds like a bad idea, I know. But welcome to my world, where I inexplicably love to come up with impossible tasks and figure out ways to accomplish them. I think it's fun to do things that nobody can usually pull off. It defies the status quo and proves that with a little determination, you can do ANYTHING. 

Right now, I'm 10 days in, with almost 30,000 words under my belt, and the story is flowing along nicely. By the time this article releases, I will be done with the first draft. On a daily and weekly basis, people ask me what my writing method is. How (and why) do I set such insane deadlines? How do I manage to meet my project finish lines? Why do I push myself to do what everybody else usually thinks is "crazy?" 

Well, I've written up my methods for you. So at last, you will know the truth! *wink* 

I don't remember who told me this, but it's awesome.
I take breaks. Let's just say, that with the amount of technical details and research that goes into my books, I can't write as quickly as I used to. I have to make sure that what I'm writing is accurate and factual. When I'm gunning for a higher word count, I set my bar at about 3500 words a day, and I usually end the day with about 4000. But I don't sit down and write it all at once - not anymore. I take a small break every 1,000 words. I get up, I perform another task for my business, I wash the dishes, I eat a snack, I go outside and count the leaves on the trees (not really, but you get my drift). If I break, I can actually last longer. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. If you pace yourself, the insurmountable challenge won't seem so impossible, because you have broken it into smaller chunks. 

I stay well hydrated and well fed. Okay, this sounds funky, but it's true: if I am dehydrated and starving, I will get nothing done that's worth a darn. My work won't be anything of quality. Just like anything else, if you want to put your best work out there, take care of your body. Feed it, water it, put some sunshine on it. Plant yourself and grow, baby. If I feel myself dragging, I'll grab some fruit, crackers, make some tea, keep a thermos of ice water with me, etc. Feed your brain and your brain will feed your creative output. You'll be more productive. 

Make a writing time. Yes, I own a publishing house. No, I do not sit and write all day long. Managing a business means I manage all aspects of that business, along with everybody who works for me, including press and public relations, emails, interviews, editing and creative writing tutoring/consulting. Most people don't own their own publishing house - I totally get that. But if you want to write a manuscript, you have to dedicate time to it. For me, that time block is basically 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m., every day, Monday through Friday. I don't write on weekends - unless it's an emergency. Weekends are my rest period. 

Ha. Ha.
Bust office blues. I sit in an office all day long. ALL. DAY. LONG. Sitting for hours and hours is not good for your body - it's terrible. I recommend simple exercise to clear your head, or try some easy office yoga. Don't know where to start? Look up some tutorial videos on YouTube (what did we ever do without YouTube, right?) or pick up a book at the library. Open your lungs and your eyes. You'll feel better. 

Don't beat yourself up if you miss your word count. Here's the thing: I'm totally obsessed with setting goals and deadlines and having to bring them to term. It's my own personal quirk. I can't help it. But the truth is, sometimes I fall short! For example, I had jury duty right smack in the middle of my 15-day manuscript sprint. SO not convenient for me. But I had to give up a day for it. It put me behind by 3500 words - but it was okay. I can't always make the count. Be easy on yourself every once in awhile. We're only human, ya know. 

Reward YOU. I like to dangle a proverbial carrot in front of my little writer's nose during the work day. For every small, hourly goal that I meet, I give myself a reward. Sometimes it's something small, like checking my Instagram (stress free and requires no thought), or food-related, like a couple of cookies while I sit outside and admire the blue sky. Just find what motivates you - what makes you look forward to the small moments of the day - and use that as your motivator. Some of my favorite "carrots" are: music, reading magazines, baking, watching Netflix (hello, Gilmore Girls!), texting/emailing a good friend, and of course, spending time with my husband. 

Don't be an avoider. While I'm a big "don't beat yourself up because you couldn't meet your word count today" kind of girl, I'm also not the person who thinks that making lame excuses are cool. You have to be self-motivated to get a book written, so stick to it. Finish the darn thing, even if you don't want to. Legitimate excuses are one thing, but procrastinating is another! You won't feel good about yourself if you keep avoiding your project. If you're serious about finishing a novel, you must be persistent! Get it, girl! (or boy!)  If you are sitting home all day and have nothing else to do, be productive! (I have such a problem with sitting still, can you tell?) 

This advice works for lots of things. Honestly, this mindset works well not just for writing a book, but for any area of your life that you're looking to improve - whether it's exercising, homework, teaching, finishing a project or following through with a promise. Find it within yourself to push a little harder, a little longer and a little farther. You can do it! I KNOW you can! 

Any questions? I'm always around to answer questions. You can email me at Happy writing. If you are a participant in NaNoWriMo, GOOD LUCK! 

And HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Remember to be grateful for what you have, to love those around you, and to spread kindness like God sprinkles rain. You live once. 
Spread knowledge and grace. 

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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!