I did NaNoWriMo for this year. For those of you who don’t know about NaNoMoWri, it’s an online group of people who spend November writing a novel. The goal is to reach 50,000 words in the 30 days. I had heard about it a couple of years ago, but was working two jobs and couldn’t do it. Now that I have much more free time I was able to finish an entire rough draft of a novel. I do very well with deadlines and a bit of pressure.
It made me think, though, about small goals and how they grow together to become big. To write 50,000 words in 30 days you have to write about 1,667 words a day or more one day and less another. It’s not that many words really, but if you do it, you end up with a short novel-length manuscript in the end. That’s not to say that what is written will be good, but the fact that so many big things can be approached with such little effort is amazing. If someone wanted to write a novel and take a whole two months instead of one month, that’s just under 900 words a day.
One of the reason that many people can achieve this 50,000 words goal or even more is that they have chosen a goal and chosen a deadline. These two things work together. it’s important to have a goal so you know where you want to go, but it’s also important to have some kind of timeline. Without a timeline, even one that you do not make, you are free to just continuously put off your goal or even the tasks required to achieve that goal. Procrastination is what keeps almost all goals from being achieved.
We put things off, we make excuses. We assume that we can’t do it. We find other tings that are not uncomfortable to do instead of doing the tasks that will take us to our goals.
Right now, I have huge amounts of free time. I can earn enough money in a relatively short part of my day and then I can do what I want. The problem is that I haven’t set any time lines for myself. My goal remains to become a book writer. I’ve read many books on the subject and have some publishing credits. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do and what steps will get me where I want to go. The problem is that haven’t set any deadlines. I’m just meandering along without doing much towards my goal. I know that if I would put deadlines on certain aspects of the task, I would get far more done and achieve my goal faster. The problem is making myself do it, especially when I don’t have to.
NaNoMoWri gives me the incentive to move ahead. It only happens in November, so I can’t really put it off, unless I want to wait for next year, which doesn’t make any sense. It’s flexible, so if I don’t get it all written, I’m still fine.
The point is, find some way to motivate yourself. Find someone or even yourself to give you an incentive to work on your larger goals. My initial writing goal was to have a writing career by the time I was 50. I still have many years left to achieve that, but maybe I should shorten the timeline. Maybe I should make financial goals for next year and the year after and so forth. One thing that’s becoming clear is that I need to impose some clarity about goals, tasks and deadlines for myself if I want to transition to a writing career.
To get anywhere, you need a pull (the goal) and a push (the deadline). Find ways to create both so that you can really get yourself moving ahead.