November is National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo for short) and this year, I decided to dust off one of the stories that has been bouncing around in my brain and get the darn thing on paper (so to speak). The target word count for the month is 50,000, which sounds daunting until you break it down into daily activity and then you realize it only takes 1,667 words per day to get there.
So in essence, tackling a huge project like writing an entire novel in a month is much like many of the other daunting tasks we find ourselves facing. Taken one step at a time, it’s entirely doable (even if it requires a bit of effort). The key is tackling it one daily goal at a time.
What #NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me About Daily Goals
#1: What You Do Consistently Gets You the Results — Go for the slow and steady over the huge sprints because that’s what will get you there. Yes, it’s good to include a few big days where you get a huge amount done, but that’s unrealistic and unsustainable and should only be used to create momentum for your daily efforts.
#2: You Don’t Have to Know Where You’re Going to Start — Just start. Start writing, start doing, start talking to people. Whatever it is you are aiming for, start. Don’t wait for the idea to be perfect before you start. In fact, starting often creates that clarity. In writing, you realize the questions that need to be answered to make your story hang together. In business, getting out there and talking about or creating things quickly shows you the gaps that need to be filled.
#3: Hard Work and Determination Trump Luck Every. Single. Time. — Don’t wait for the right opportunity, the perfect timing, the one big break. Make it happen for yourself. If you happen to have a bit of luck on your side, great! But if you don’t, it doesn’t matter because you’re ready to do the work to create that luck!
#4: Everyone Needs a Support System — Ask for help from the people around you. That could mean asking your spouse and kids to help out around the house, that could mean asking your business partner to take on additional tasks. Do whatever it is you need to do to clear the space for your big project!
#5: Starting Every Day With a Concrete Goal Means It Gets Done — Always know what you intend to do before you sit down at your desk for the day and make that goal a must-do. It’s what enables you to push through the challenges and stay focused on the task at hand. Wishy-washy maybe goals won’t get you there. One tiny obstacle and you’ll flake out until tomorrow.
#6: There’s Always Time to Follow Your Dreams — Never say it’s too late or you’re too busy to do what you’ve always wanted to do. This year wasn’t even remotely the best timing to take on the monumental task of writing a novel, but I realized that the perfect time was never going to happen so I made it happen. If it’s something you really and truly want to do, you will find the time.
#7: Never Let Yourself Fall Behind — Make it a priority to stay on target with your daily goals. Yes, you may have to do a tiny bit of catch up now and then, but aim to more or less stay on track each and every day. The psychological motivation game we play with ourselves is that our big, lofty goal is reachable. Fall behind and catching up starts to feel overwhelming. That doable goal starts becoming lofty again, causing a downward spiral effect.
And if you are interested in learning more about #NaNoWriMo and its motivational power, check it out here: NaNoWriMo.org!