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Why Write during NaNoWriMo?

November 11, 2009

Week two of NaNoWriMo and the excitement of starting has begun to fade, with the true grit of your consistency beginning to pay off with your word count mounting and your story taking shape.

Our writers have spoken of goal setting, of having plans set in place and many important hints and tips to smooth the way with the technicalities of writing. If undertaking any venture, be it a new sporting interest, stock trading, travel or a different job, you need to pinpoint your underlying motivation; your “Why”, otherwise, when challenged, your resolve will crumble like a deck of cards. As Jodi has said in a previous post, to instill a habit you need to do an action constantly for at least 21 days. If you have made it this far, then you are well on your way; but may begin to encounter challenges, diversions and doubts. By strengthening your “Why”, you will have more tools, armour or weapons to repel these negative forces from influencing your dream.

If you start something you usually want to these two things:

1) To enjoy it.

2) To be successful at it.

In order to be successful in anything, you need to have a good reason for doing it. This “Why” is the reason you get out of bed at 4 am before the rest of the house wakes, you reneg on going out to the pub on Friday night in order to write, you tape your favourite TV programs to watch later or wait an extra week to go to the movies to see the new movie.

For NaNo, many people will say “they want to write a book”, or “have the satisfaction of achieving the 50K words in 30 days” as being their goal. While these are good goals, they are not good enough motivators to ensure long term success. No doubt these ARE their reasons, however they are low level reasons and have little emotional grounding or substance. When finding your “Why” you need to dig deeper. Eg:

  • Whats so important about THAT specific book/ piece of work?
  • Why now – why not do it next year?
  • What will writing that book give you or mean to you?

It takes a little time in uncovering the true motivator and to brush away the veneer and pretence some may hold over your reasons.

Perhaps writing the book will give you clarity on an event or time in your life or give you an opportunity to explore a social or political issue. Theres no shame either in admitting you want fame and fortune. However these, though still good reasons are still not the real motivators.

Dig even deeper.

Image via Wikipedia
  • What would it mean for you?
  • What will those qualities give you?
  • Who would you become if you had those qualities?

Like a patient paleontologist with her tiny tools, you need to brush away the lower level reasons to uncover the treasure – your real “Why”.

If your “Why” is a level 1 reason and you are tackled with a level 2 blockage or challenge, it will obliterate your commitment and its very likely you will stop. Imagine what would happen if a level 5 or 7 challenge confronted you? Finding your “Why” will intensify your commitment to your goals.

How to make your “Why” crystal clear.

  • You are a writer – take half an hour out of writing your project and write a small scene which shows you completing NaNo and the events which happen afterwards. Its important to bring in the sounds, smell, touch feelings and tastes involved in the scene to make it real. Perhaps its more appropriate to draw, or cut pictures out so you have a visual prompt. This is a personal thing and must have a deep meaning for you.
  • Commitment can be defined as the ability to carry out a worth decision, even when the excitement of that decision has passed. Once you have your why, you need to write a one sentence commitment statement with uncluttered, unambiguous language in first person.
  • Place it somewhere prominent in your writing space and review it often – especially when those challenges confront you.

Its really important to do this as it will clarify your thinking and crystallize your goal; making it real, whilst motivating you to take the consistent action which is needed. When you find your own unique why, you will feel it resonate with you deeply. The words may seem to have a special energy and give you a chill, thrill or connecting energetic feeling whenever you read them

Discovering your why is the easy part of this process.. The hard part is keeping it with you on a daily basis and instilling it into your normal life. Knowing your “Why” will help overcome your fears and doubts, as well as your tendency to procrastinate and assist you to move forward toward your goal.

Paleontologist Image via Wikipedia

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Annie Evett is a bit drained of pithy or interesting sign offs.. Buddy up during NaNo here. Follow her here on Twitter and catch her growing amount of websites and blogs here
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  1. November 12, 2009 2:53 am

    This is definitely something to explore at 5am as I am scribbling my morning pages. My well thought out and worked to plan for NaNo has fallen about this week and with it has gone my writing.

    It is hard to factor in major illness or what to do in such circumstances.

    I know one “why” for me is to finish what I start. With three unfinished territary courses under my belt and a plethora of other minor course also unfinished … to start and finish something is really important to me. I was very close to throwing in the towel in the final days of NaNo 07 but dug deep.

    Why this story – I have no idea? Other than to finish and honestly – this week it is not enough. I am seeing some interesting themes creeping in – in what is probably a rather large rant on things like religion and collective good over individual needs. And I wanted to do a bit of an inter-racial love story – but between a white woman and a blue man (remember giving me grief about that last year?)

    What’s happened is my weird love story has morphed into pontification on political and social issues – all important yes – but it wont drive to me to the end. Will make for interesting layers – perhaps – but I really just want my two characters to come together and explore what they’re meant to be exploring.

    Shall definitley dig much deeper – I think this is just what I need right now. Thank you 🙂

  2. November 12, 2009 3:00 am

    While I’m not participating in NaNo I very much loved your post as it reminded me just why I’ve spent every evening this week and all of my last weekend editing. Armed with my renewed energy and focus I may even manage another chapter before I find a convenient distraction.

  3. November 12, 2009 6:45 pm

    Thanks for the input – as yes – I need to constantly revisit my “Whys” a pithy ” I want to finish this story” just doesn’t cut it at 2 am when you are desperately trying to organise family holidays, parties and looking at how close Christmas is.

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