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.