NaNoWriMo, which I’ve written about before, is almost over. By the time this is posted, there will be 5 days left for the challenge. As I type, I’m sitting at just over 43,000 words and poised for my third straight victory (yeah!) The other day I thought about how writing for this challenge is one of those things I look forward to every year since I started four years ago. So here are some of my thoughts as I head towards the finish line.
I believe my job in sales has prepared me for this type of challenge. I never thought sales equated to success in writing, but there are some lessons I’ve learned along the way. For example, every year we are faced with a sales goal that drives all our efforts. Then that goal is divided among the twelve months and then those months are divided among the sales team. We are each responsible for a certain amount of sales in order to reach our annual goal.
In sales, some days are better than others. My assistant is fond of telling me how much we need to average per day to meet our goal. It can seem daunting, but breaking a month up into the individual days can be helpful. Some times we have spectacular days where we go way above what we need for the day and other days we are well under. Knowing how much I need per day and exceeding it boosts my confidence while the days when we are low, I know we’ve built in enough cushion from the good days to compensate for the shortage. At the end of the month when the tally is done, it doesn’t matter how much you did certain days, just as long as you hit the mark set for you.
Writing, especially for NaNoWriMo, mimics the ebb and flow of sales. At least in my case it does. There are days when I can crank out 5,000 words (or more) and then there are days when all I can eek out are a few hundred. Of course some days I’m not able to write at all. But the thing is, like sales, it’s a numbers game. As long as I continue to add, no matter how much or little, in the end I will get to 50,000.
I’ve seen it work in my sales profession and that gives me the ability to keep calm over the thirty days of NaNoWriMo. I apply the same principles in both sales and writing and that has made a huge difference for me.
One other point I’d like to bring up is preparing for the win. My first NaNo attempt took me to about 15,000 words or so before I lost track and lost focus. I didn’t care about my story anymore and gave up. The following year I did something different. I researched a little on some key topics relevant to the story I had in mind. Having that foundation helped get me to my first win. For my third attempt (and second win) I not only researched, but completed some character sketches and outlined a good portion of the book. By the time November 1st came around, I was ready to roll. I ended up with over 75,000 words for the win that year.
This year I did something similar as last time, though I didn’t get too deep with the character sketches and the outlining wasn’t as thorough. What it did do for me though was give me a guide, a rough idea of what I planned on doing. It helped get me started and gave me a loose framework within which to write. This year more than any other I’ve veered off course from my original plan but I think it might be the most complex, interesting, and exciting thing I’ve done yet. Of course, I am a little biased.
I hope that one day any of you interested in writing will give it a chance. It’s always been a learning experience that pays off in the end – a written novel! How many people do you personally know that can say that? Think back to the successes you’ve had in other areas of your life and the steps to get there. Then take those concepts and apply them to how you write. You might be surprised at the results. I sure was.