Baby Stepping Through NaNoWriMo
National Novel Writing Month is over for 2012.
Whether you rocketed past the finish line or were miles away, you wrote words that didn’t exist before November 1.
Even if you never got past the first sentence, you made something happen. Seriously. Pat yourself on the back.
Celebrating even a tiny success can motivate you to succeed further.
I’m a huge believer in baby steps. Some people get jazzed by lofty goals. The mere idea makes me want to puke in my mouth a little.
Sure, I have lots of lofty goals (*cough* NYT Bestselling Author *cough*) but I get along only with lots of constructive denial.
Constructive Denial: Willfully ignoring how far you have left to go and just seeing the next tiny step ahead of you.
When writing a novel, that means setting any goal that seems truly doable to you. 10 words or 1000+. 5 minutes or 15. The key is to set a non-threatening goal so that you can tell yourself “I only have to write __.”
You may end up writing more. Once your butt is in the seat, it’s easier to just keep going.
However, if you just do the minimum, you’ve still reached a goal. You’ve kept a promise to yourself. When you keep your promises to yourself, you gain confidence in your ability to do it again and again.
If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Use those failures to motivate your future success.
Once you’re comfortable with that pace, bump it up another notch. Every time you do, tell yourself, “Just a little further.”
You may find yourself zooming along at finger-breaking speed in no time.
Then again, maybe you won’t. Maybe you (like me) will take a little longer to start busting out word counts in the thousands. Maybe you’ll take a lot longer.
In any case, know that, if you keep putting one word after the other, you will get to your lofty goal. Once you’re there, it doesn’t really matter how long it took you.
So what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo?
When I first heard about NaNo a couple of years ago, it scared the stuffing out of me. I had all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t join (I’m in the middle of a novel, in the middle of moving, in the middle of watching a Lost marathon). While some of those reason were certainly good ones, the deeper reason was fear.
50k in 30 days seemed like too much when my cruising speed was around 500, a horrible affront to my baby steps philosophy.
When NaNo rolled around again this year, I put on my big girl panties and joined up (as a rebel because I planned to add to my work-in-progress).
Going in, I had hopes and doubts. Lots of doubts.
I hoped to add 50k words and finish the first draft but I didn’t think I really would. I had a family vacation coming up after Thanksgiving and would not have internet during the last week of November. And I still couldn’t fathom writing 1667 words every single day, let alone the 2000 I’d need to finish before I went internet free.
But…the writing nearly every day, regardless of my “slow” pace had worked some kinda magic deep in my brain.
When NaNo kicked off, I sat down at the computer and told myself I only had to write 500 at a time. Just 500. Then I could take a break and have a cookie. Once I started, 500 words didn’t seem like such a big deal. Even 1000 didn’t seem so bad (okay, so I used a few “tricks” to keep my word count up…mostly in the beginning).
At the end of the first day, when I’d actually passed 2K, I was stunned. I wasn’t convinced I could do it again.
But I did.
I marched my way to the 50k mark on last night before I left for vacation. I did it. I won NaNoWriMo (rebel status be darned). And not because I’m a turbo writer but only because all those itty bitty baby steps I’d been taking finally added up to something big.
So what if it took me a couple of years to get around to it.
Now, I’d like to say I got to type “The End” on my first draft at the end of NaNo. I didn’t. I’ve still a few miles to go but I now know that I can. I can reach my lofty goals and without freaking out over how far I still have to go.
I just have to keep going.
Wherever you ended up when the curtain fell November 30th and however far you have to go, you will get there if you just keep putting one word after the other.
How did NaNo go for you? For those of you who didn’t join NaNo, are you going to give it a try next year?
Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Upside-down yawn by twolittlemoos, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Scary Pepper by zane.hollingsworth, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Jump! by ehisforadam (Adam Minter), on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
funny animal by didbygraham, on Flickr CC BY 2.0
Acrobat by Vicki & Chuck Rogers, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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