November is National Novel Writing Month.
I applaud that project, and any writer who steps out over the parapet to take part in it. When you commit to the daily word count, it won’t only be others who await the results you’ve promised. You’ll also be setting up high expectations for yourself. The pressure will be on.
For some writers, at some times in their lives, it’s just what they need. NaMoWriMo is a virtual community, where the peer network can guide and inspire superbly.
But for other writers, this headline of a month can exacerbate what we tend to do anyway as human animals, and human-animal-writers, which is to set unrealistic goals for ourselves that we then fail to achieve.
This is a dangerous pattern for a writer because once we’ve failed to achieve a goal, it is evenmore difficult to achieve it next time. We can end up spiraling down into a vortex of unfinished projects and decreasing confidence.
What we need to do this NaNoWriMo is set ourselves up to succeed not fail. We want to create a virtuous circle, not a vicious one. To do this, it’s imperative that we set realistic goals with regards to how many words we can write each day, given our other life commitments. It’s often better to complete a shorter project than half-finish the next War and Peace.
Underestimate, rather than overestimate.
Even if you write only ten words of a poem a day, or manage to spend 15 minutes in your private writing space, if that fulfills your intention, you’ll feel satisfied. As writers we need to stop beating ourselves up about what we don’t achieve, and notice how much we do achieve.
Applaud your own efforts this NaNoWriMo.