Friday, September 28, 2018

Tactics for Victory

Your book is roughly planned out. You've started getting a exercise and sunshine. You've worked with friends and family so they will support you. Or at least leave you alone. You are ready!

Well, one more thing. Planning and preparation are great; execution is king. You have to execute the plan and that takes energy. Remember all that exercise you've been doing? There's a famous quote often attributed to Vince Lombardi: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all". A lot of people want to write in NaNoWriMo until they realize they have to put 1,667 words on a page every day, for 30 days. Straight. Typing or long hand isn't the issue; mental exhaustion hits hard and can pound your thinker into submission.

You can win this fight! Lots of people have and December First you will be in that pretty exclusive group. Here are my top three Tactics for Victory.

Manage Emotional Energy

To write 50,000 words in 30 days you must average 1,667 words per day, rounded up. Don't be average! In my first NaNoWriMo i tried to be average and it nearly beat me to death. My story energy failed at the half way point, I was even grumpier than usual, and days would drag on and on and on and...

Tactic One Don't be average! Crunch out 2,000 words a day for 5 days straight and then take a day off. Totally take a day off. No writing. No second-guessing yourself and worrying about word count. Keep the computer turned off; it probably needs a break too! That's 5 days you get to rest and still write your novel! Taking a break sounds counter-intuitive to our culture, sadly. We're expected to produce day in and day out, from birth to death. Some people think humans are robots. Well, we're not. We need regeneration. We need a "Sabbath"; a day of rest. The first NaNoWriMo I did this convinced me; I was able to write a better story and keep strong through the end. I've done it ever since and will continue until I find a better plan.

By the way, people who work on machines will tell you even heavy duty equipment needs time for maintenance and cleaning. Parts wear out and need replacement. Take the hint.

Manage Creative Energy

There's a section in "Lord of the Rings", and a similar section in the latter "Harry Potter" books, where things just seem to drag. Partly because that's the mood the authors were trying to set but sometimes I wonder if they were just tired of writing that story. Sticking with the same thing for months, or years, can put your brain in a rut. Pounding out 2,000 words a day can do the same thing. We risk creative death if we do nothing but generate tons of creative output. Creating is work but it should also be fun!

Tactic Two Feed your Creative Self! In "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" Stephen R. Covey wrote about building "Production" and "Production Capability". If you draw from the creative well for too long it will run dry. Since you're already taking days off simply schedule something that rejuvenates you. Watch a movie, go to the park. Play with the grand kids or bake cookies. Whatever sparks your creative self, do that. Build your "Production Capability"; your capacity to produce. Produce for 5 days straight and then renew your ability to produce. You will see the difference in your work.

Manage Relational Energy

Your family and friends lose you for a month. You've dropped all those social obligations you didn't really want go to anyway. Maybe you don't have many friends left since you cut out the harmful ones. That's a win! We are people and there are other people in the world who support us. Some of them may even still like us. Weird. Still, they are cheering for you and adjusting their lives to help you. They are your Team.

Tactic Three You are not alone! As you prepare for NaNoWriMo, spend time with those who are good for you. Your novel is a Team effort, support your Team! Spend part of those break days with those who rejuvenate you. They need you in their lives and they are supporting your work.

Don't be average! Feed your Creative Self! You are not alone! Execute well and you will reach December with a better creative effort, a stronger mind, and a team that still wants to admit they know you.

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