“Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh”
– David Milch
Despite this fundamental truth, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s the description from the www.nanowrimo.org “About” page:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.
Studies have shown that announcing goals or resolutions isn’t always a good idea. Apparently, some people get warm fuzzies from just from announcing the goal, and that this becomes a substitute for actually doing the work.
There are those who sign up for NaNoWriMo and never post a word count.
However, the articles I read also say that if one treats the announcement of a goal as a commitment rather than an achievement in itself, the increased accountability can help. Here are links if you’d like to read more: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/should-you-tell-facebook-about-your-resolutions/ and http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/announcing-plans-may-kill-motivation-productivity/
What these articles don’t address is a factor that I think is very important: how people in your circle react to your announcement. Part of the fun of NaNoWriMo is the generally supportive environment on the website and the message boards.
On the other hand, announcing that you’re planning to write your first book can backfire if clueless or negative people in your life will chivvy you about when your first bestseller is going to come out. The same thing can happen with setting goals of any sort—it’s good to share them with people who will be supportive and also won’t treat you as a failure if you don’t reach your goal.
In my case, I’m not worried about the support team issue. It’s been about 15 years since I started writing and by now I know who’s got my back. The others just don’t matter any more. I do NaNoWriMo because it’s fun and suits my writing process.
Several times in the past I’ve made it past the 50,000 mark. This time, my personal goal is just to get back into the groove of writing again and continue to make progress on the novella I started during my recent writer’s retreat. I’m managing about half an hour to an hour every day and the progress is very slow but steady. I certainly won’t “win” in the sense of achieving 50,000 words, but if all goes well, I may finish the rough draft of the novella. With the original 6,000 words, I am about one third to one half done!
How about you? Do you like announcing goals and do you find it helps? Do you enjoy tracking progress and how?