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Friday, November 29, 2013

Fast Fiction Friday: Some Perspective on #NaNoWriMo

It's very very close to the end of National Novel-Writing Month, and so I wanted to write a little bit about the whole idea of The Big Challenge. It is big. It can be stressful and even depressing. But it shouldn't be.

Some of you will have met your goal for the month, but some of you--probably most of you--will not have met your goal. First of all, congratulations to everyone in either category! Whether or not you wrote 50,000 words (or met some other goal) this month, if you set a goal and tried to challenge yourself, you are way ahead of most people in this world. There is no reason, no matter how far you are from your goal, to think of this year's NaNo as a personal failure.

The other downfall I've seen with people who complete any amount of their goal during NaNo is that they tend to beat themselves up over the quality of their new manuscript. Don't do it! Instead, take some time away from your new draft. Let your mind relax and change from micro-thinking mode to where you can truly look at the bigger picture of your manuscript and will be able to recognize its great points. This often takes time. If you come out on the other end with anything good, it's probably more than you would have otherwise found in only one month.

We are still over twenty-four hours away from the official NaNoWriMo deadline, so first off, I'd like to say that if you're close, or even near the range where you COULD complete your goal, I encourage you to stop reading this, turn off your phone and Internet, and do everything in your power to make it happen. You see, people who meet goals increase their likelihood of meeting future goals. So this is important, not just for this goal, but for your future. It's only one more day. Why not at least try to give it everything that you have and attempt to sprint to the end?

If you're not near your goal, I have some advice for you too: DON'T GET DEPRESSED. I mean it. You have done something wonderful for yourself by actually setting a goal in the first place and trying. Next time you set a goal, you will be more prepared and will go into it with more realistic parameters. Plus, chances are good that even if you didn't get close to meeting your goal this time, you probably wrote more this month than you would have without a goal. Maybe setting too challenging of a goal actually made some small inner part of you decide to rebel. Maybe your next goal should be to take the project you started and complete it over the next three months. Think of NaNo as a jumping off point and keep moving forward. However you want to approach the future, I encourage you to at least keep your focus there. Don't get stuck thinking about today and yesterday and the goal that didn't quite get completed. You are a person who moves forward in life and improves. Keep doing that today, tomorrow, next week, and next year.

If you did complete your goal, congratulations! Of course you should spend some time basking in your accomplishment and eating lots of chocolate. But besides that, I recommend taking a moment to think about what you learned during this year's NaNoWriMo. I learn something new every year. Because of that, I feel like the process of fast-drafting does get easier and easier for me. I still would NEVER call the process of drafting a book easy! But there are things that can help. Look for the help and take note of it.

No matter where you're at on your project, don't let yourself get discouraged. Know that you have improved your life by setting a goal and making an attempt. Plus, writing is a lonely enough process. Why not join in on these group goal-setting efforts and see it as a chance to have some fun with other writers? If you want a second chance at this, make sure to stop back by here in March for my March Madness Writing Challenge (I'll be looking for blog hosts soon). If you haven't discovered that fast-drafting CAN be fun yet, keep coming back and I'll help you see it. I promise.

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