Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The joys of measurable goals

I'm on Day Four of Crazy Week and, I have to say, pretty delighted with my progress. (If you've queried me recently, sorry to say that's been the bottom of the priority list lately, but the inbox is getting some attention this afternoon.)

I posted, half-jokingly, on Twitter yesterday that I just bought a book called LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR TIME, but wasn't sure when I'd get to read it. I love books like that (shameless plug here for my client Erin Rooney Doland's UNCLUTTER YOUR LIFE IN ONE WEEK), where it feels like a book can provide all the answers to your needs.

But I can't be the only one who sometimes confuses buying the book with reading the book, can I? As if the book's purchase would osmotically impart all of the book's wisdom to me. Sigh.

One major thing (of many!) that I have in common with anyone who strives to make money from their writing is that I have to figure out how to organize my time. There's nobody to tell me what my priorities should be, though there are quite a few people who would like a say in the matter, and I am the only person who gets to decide what goes on the day's to-do list. All my deadlines and all my work projects are more or less self-imposed.

That's scary sometimes, and there are certainly days--weeks--when I have to dig deep to find my motivation.

My mom would tell you that I've always worked best under pressure, which might help to explain why despite the stress, I'm having a really good week as I crank through as many list items as I can. Deadlines, even when they're pretty arbitrary and of my own making, are really, really good for my productivity.

I think the connections to NaNoWriMo here are pretty obvious: nobody makes you sign up, and nobody makes you produce the word count. You've all done this to yourselves. But signing up for something like NaNoWriMo is a way of publicly stating that what you're doing is important to you, and worthy of the time and attention it demands.

If you can't make time to write, you can't write anything.

Here's a post from the amazing Neil Gaiman giving his NaNoWriMo pep talk; it's well worth the read.

Check in in the comments and let us all know how you're doing (and what your word count is)!

1 comment:

Jessica Brockmole said...

When I tell someone for the first time that I do NaNoWriMo, they're always perplexed at the concept. "But what do you WIN?" is always the first question I get. Well, really nothing but the satisfaction of knowing I'm 50k into a new story. "Then why do it? If it's just for you, why not do it in, say, February? Why not give yourself two months or three? Why do this whole NaNo thing at all?"

I think it's exactly as you said, Courtney. It's giving myself a deadline and something to accomplish within that deadline. And, more than that, declaring myself to friends and family so that, not only do I have public support, but I also am now accountable. I feel like a dope when I tell everyone I'll get something done and then slack off instead.

Currently at 22k (had a serious push on Wednesday and a big jump in my wordcount). Although I might not "win" I'm happy with the way the story is going and will be satisfied if I pass 30k by the end of the month.