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!