At the end of the day, all you really have to do is write 50,000 words of a novel between November 1st and November 30th. It’s just words on a page.
It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
Except, producing 50,000 words isn’t something that simply happens. The sheer volume is staggering. Not only that, but there is a lot that goes into the process outside of the writing: eating, sleeping, maintaining some level of fitness, oh, and that job/family thing too.
I don’t want you to get lost along the way, lose motivation, and find that day where you just don’t feel like writing your 1,667 words.
So let’s talk about commitment and stack the deck in your favor.
This is the most important step.
I’m not joking.
Well, maybe the writing is the most important step, but you will never sustain the pace for a full month without committing to it.
Writing 1,667 words per day is going to take a long time. There will be days that you will not feel like writing. It is an inevitability.
There will be days where you struggle and struggle and produce work that you know is of poor quality. It will be hard to continue to write, to silence the voice in the back of your mind that says, “this is crap; just give up.” That voice will constantly remind you, “By the way, you suck at this.”
Some days you’ll be busy with kids or work or school or those thousand and one distractions that come up in life. You won’t want to write, to drag 1,667 terrible words out of your head at the end of the day when all you want to do is sleep. The voice in your head will tell you, “That’s okay; you can catch up tomorrow. It would be so much easier to just go to bed.”
The Key is to Persevere
When I was in college a few years ago, we had a guest lecturer who spoke about entrepreneurship. He told his life story and how it ultimately led to the success of his business. The bumps along the way, however, were profound. There were car wrecks, financial ruin, sick children, and failed companies. Blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. It was a brutal story. Until the happy ending.
The point, though, was perseverance. Commitment.
He asked us, “Now think about this: when was the first time you ever quit on something you believed in?”
He let the question hang in the silence of the room.
I thought about it, and I realized I had no answer. It had been so long ago.
“I bet you can’t remember,” he said. “But I bet it was really, really hard that first time. I bet it was a terrible decision, a paralyzing one. And I bet it got a little easier to quit every time after that.”
I think he was right.
Once you’ve developed a pattern of forgiving yourself for quitting, it only gets easier and easier until it’s always an acceptable option. One day it’s just an outcome on the table along with all the others.
If you’re going to start NaNoWriMo, commit to yourself to finishing it.
Stack the Deck
Tell your friends and family you’re going to do it, and ask them to support you. Join the online communities built around NaNoWriMo for support and shared motivation. Keep track of your word counts daily. Visualize success. Actually sit down and imagine yourself spending the tough time writing. Practice intelligent writing habits. Take smart breaks. Drink coffee or tea when you need it. Log extra words when you find yourself with extra, unexpected time.
Fall in love with your story.
And most importantly, if you’re going to do NaNoWriMo, then do it.