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NaNo NaNo! -- by Hulda

Inspired by the threads Progress Report in our Procrastination Lounge and Anyone signing up for Nano yet? in the On writing forum.
NaNo is crazy and chaotic, and that's what makes it work - for some of us. Many of us participate every year, but have never reached that magical final word count of 50.000.
A possible solution: Setting goals.
If you have your NaNoWriMo goals defined in advance, you will start the race running and increase your chances of success.
The SMART goal setting ideology (see Wikipedia entry) is one of the first things you'll come across if you google goals and how to meet them. According to the SMART ideology, goals should be: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted.
You may already have spotted the weak link when it comes to SMART goal setting for NaNo: NaNo is not particularly realistic or achievable by any ordinary definition, is it?
But no worries, it's NaNo, which is sort of like Santa, we can work around the believability factor!
Let's try to set some fictional NaNo goals, the smart way, and the not-so-smart way:
Specific : What EXACTLY do you want to do? Be as precise as you can.
  • Good goal: I want to use NaNo to write a 50.000 word first draft of my children's book about the sad unicorn and its journey through the underworld. I know how it begins, over the next few months I am going to try and figure out some of the major turning points so I can be ready to write it during November. 
  • Not such a good goal: I want to write a children's book.
Measureable : How will you keep account of your progress? 

  • Good goal: I need to write a minimum of 1667 words a day to complete NaNo on schedule. My goal will be 2000 words every day, which means I can take six days off if I need to, and I probably will. If I miss a day, I will make up for it over the four following days, adding 500 words to each day.  I will use my CC progress chart to keep myself accountable and I will update it every day, whether I have managed to write something or not. A flat line on my progress chart is better than no line at all.
  • Not such good goal: I'm going to work on my book whenever I have time.
Achievable/Attainable : You need to define how you are going to fit so much writing into your daily life, a time commitment far greater than you are used to. Be careful not to have your goals dependent on other people unless there is a firm arrangement for how they are going to help you out.
  • Good goal: I will write 1667 words every single day. I will wake up an hour earlier than usual and write as much as I can. I will write on the train to and from work, and in the evening after the kids are in bed. I will spend less time on social networking and use the time to write instead.
  • Not such good goal: I want to complete Nano by writing a lot every day and get babysitting for the kids as much as I can. 
Realistic/Relevant : Your goals need to be realistic or you risk giving up before you've even started. If you don't believe you can meet your goals, why bother trying? You can do this, but you may have to make some sacrifices. Write those sacrifices down and commit to making them.
  • Good goal: I know I will have to write far more and far faster than I am used to. In order to do this I will wake up earlier, and sacrifice much of my leisure time. I will cut down on social networking, write during my commute and limit myself to television only if I am on track. I will keep a notebook next to me at all times and jot down any thoughts on my story that come to mind. I will commit to writing something in my PAD every time I log on to CC.
  • Not such a good goal: I'll just write faster and more often than usually.
Time-targeted: Finally, something Nano makes easy for us!
  • Good goal: I will have my 50.000 words completed on or before November 30th.
  • Not so good goal: National Novel Writing Month is just a guideline, after all. Getting anything at all done is enough for me. I will finish the book sometime this year.
CC will be buzzing with Nano in a a few days... start setting your goals and get ready for the 50k race! 


Posted by Hulda 1 Nov 2015 at 00:36
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Responses to this blog

Beorckano 1 Nov 2015 at 11:59  
Sitting down to start my first NaNoWriMo attempt myself. Not going to try to start a new project, I'm going to simply measure my progress off of what I currently have, since I have a loose goal of 80-120K words anyways.

I'm starting at almost 17,000 words in. My average chapter length is in the neighborhood of 4,000 words, give or take. My goal is to hit 50,000 words of rough draft material by November 30th to add to what I have, bringing me to at least 67,000 words. If I can hit 70K, I'll be 10,000 shy of my minimum.

... holy crap, guys, I just realized that I could very realistically finish this novel by the end of this year.
Rellrod 1 Nov 2015 at 17:55  
Great analysis, Hulda. If I ever do NaNo (I know I can't fit it in this year), I'll follow your method.


Trinity 1 Nov 2015 at 18:14  
It's been a few years since I took up the challenge, but when my schedule changed, and with a full outline in hand, I decided to use November to write most of the first draft of Scimitar, Book II of my Deneb series. I wrote only 2510 words today, but I had a lot of setup to do. Scimitar his prehistoric fiction, and includes a conlang (constructed language), and I'm not including any of the setup words in my total. So it was a long day and little to show for it, but I hope things will even out as the month progresses. We shall see!
Amber_la13 1 Nov 2015 at 20:38  
I only have about 20 days out of the entire month of November to get that 50,000 words. I've calculated I need to work through at least 2,500 words a day to finish, and that doesn't count the hiccups along the way. 3,000 words a day would be better. At least I know I'm on the right track to reaching my set goals. Thanks for the advice. I hope everyone can reach their own goals. Good luck to everyone participating!

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