Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Artificial Stimulus?

Today marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, and although I'm not participating I have many friends who are. I wish them all the best.

Personally, I think NaNoWriMo is a good idea. For whatever reason, setting a target, particularly working on a publicly-declared goal alongside others, provides motivation. Few run marathons outside of the organized events. They train... that's different... but to actually run the course the way you would when the marathon was on? No.

For some reason, when I write down a little list of things to do, and check things off, I feel a sense of accomplishment. And when I don't make a list and make my checkmarks, even if I do the work I don't have that sense of closure. I'm not sure why that is. Being conditioned to fill shopping lists from a young age when sent to the store? The incentive that if you do this, this and this, you can go play?

Whatever the case, setting goals and marking that I've reached them really helps me. Which is why I think NaNoWriMo is a good thing. Now, some might argue that if someone can't finish a novel without that push on their own, then how will they finish a second one? I disagree there.

When I sat down to write my first adult fiction book, I set myself one goal. To finish it. Not to worry if it was good or bad... just to finish it. Of course, I still wanted it to be good. I didn't just write bullshit and call it a book. I would go back and modify things as needed to make it stronger, make certain things make sense.

But the main goal was completion.

I was at a loss as to how to edit it when I was finished that first draft because I'd never attempted something on that scale before. But I was excited about finishing a book.

So I wrote another. And another.

Within five months I had three manuscripts done in first draft form. It was then that I really needed to learn about editing and how to revise my work. But just achieving that initial target - completion - spurred me on. Once I had the bug, once I knew what it was to pen a first draft, I knew I could.

And then there were new goals. Not just to finish a book but to finish a great book. I went back and rewrote that first book.

And in two months and six days, it will be officially published.

So, to all those taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge, I say set your ideal goal, but set your attainable goal as well. Thrive in the success of what you do achieve this month, and let it be a stepping stone to achieving more in the future.

My best to you all.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with anyone who takes on NaNoWriMo and really goes with it. I don't see it as an artificial push either, but a way to make something happen. We always use something to make it happen. Self-discipline doesn't occur in a vacuum -- it happens in response to something. Internal, external, doesn't matter.

For those who will tackle a novel this month, good for you! I will be starting revisions in a couple of weeks myself, so no NaNoWriMo for me either. But for those in the fray, write on!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Woot! O brave and intrepid NaNo-ers, we salute thee!

(I joined but I'm cheating. I'm "using" it to get the final 50K works on my WIP done by the end of November...so I can't win. But I'm gonna have fun anyway!)

Sandra Ruttan said...

I agree Bill - self-discipline is a tough thing and even those of us who have it waver sometimes.

SW, I don't think that's cheating. That's using this forum in order to achieve a modified goal - good for you!

Stephen Blackmoore said...

SW, I'm right there with you. I'm hoping to get 50K on something that's already a quarter complete. Best of luck.

S. W. Vaughn said...

All right! A fellow cheater! LOL

Good luck, Stephen. I'll be rooting for you!!

JamesO said...

NaNoWriMo is a great thing indeed, even if I'm not participating. I started my WIP a couple of weeks ago, and don't expect to have it done much before the end of the year. But then it's going to be more than 50k.

I'm hopeless at making lists, though I know the value of them. But I do know one thing about them, and that is you should always start with 1: Make a cup of tea.

That way you can always tick at least one thing off.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I don't think the point of NaNo is to follow the rules. I mean, there isn't a prize. The real prize is your own achievement, so there's no cheating in my book.

I'll say thanks to all the kind words even though this isn't my blog, but it does feel like the local pub. :)

Sandra Ruttan said...

So, following that logic Daniel, I should make my tea and spike it with something stronger on a very regular basis. ;)

I'd love to start a virtual bar.

angie said...

Thanks Sandra...I'm gonna be a lousy blogger this month if today is any indication.

Hopefully I'll freak out a little less tomorrow. I can't quite get the hang of quantity over quality. It's making me nuts not to "get it right." Fuckin' type A perfectionistic bullshit's gonna make me positively certifiable before this thing's over and done with.

JamesO said...

Sandra's Bar. Yes, I can see it. A place for the tortured artistic souls to hang out, drink absinthe and generally misbehave.

When does it open?

Anonymous said...

I'd like a Bombay Sapphire martini, two olives.