The ‘No Back-Down’ Method of Self-Motivation

Support is where you find it.

Many of us write without a net, without someone rooting for us, urging us on, because when it comes right down to it, writing is a lonely business.

Some of us you have support of a sort.  There are people, perhaps, who brag on you, who tell their friends, “my _____________ is a writer!   Oh, yes, and the book is almost done!” (as though finishing a draft of a book is the same thing as getting it published).   Perhaps the person or persons who support you actually read your work, and those who don’t just nod and say, “that’s good” might actually give you useful feedback.  But that’s pretty rare, I think.  Honest feedback is hard to get.

How, then, can we get the kind of encouragement needed to keep going on a bigger project?  Yes, yes, I know, some of you are walking miracles.  Some of you never lack for encouragement or drive.  You never get tired.  You never get discouraged.  If I wore a hat, I’d tip it to you. 


For those of us who get tired, who get bored with a project, who get distracted and need a swift kick in the pants, I have a suggestion.

It is a special competition that comes around once a year.  It lasts for a single month, and it provides some amazing bits of encouragement and a sense of community.  The only problem with it is that it occurs on probably the second worst month of the year.  November.

Ah.  Did the light just go on?  Did you just figure it out?  Gold star!

Yes, it’s the National Novel Writing Month, fondly known as NaNoWriMo.  While it is a bit over a month away, the time to get signed up and prepared is fast approaching.

Our world is busy, flashy, and shiny.  TV calls to us.  Our friends tempt us with parties.  Fact is, when you’re supposed to be writing, even the mundanities call out to you.  Empty the garbage, rearrange your paperclip collection, find those missing socks.

What works for me, and I’m guessing for you as well, is promising out loud that in the month of November you will write a 50k word novel (or novella), and then produce a minimum of 1667 words per day in that pursuit. 

When you think of it, you probably produce 1667 words every day in random jottings.  You are writers, after all.

I want you to think about it.  Imposing yet another deadline on yourself can be a bit of a strain, but choosing to do so, and sticking with it has great rewards.

Your thoughts?


6 responses to “The ‘No Back-Down’ Method of Self-Motivation

  1. I have heard about this many times, but have always put on my chicken hat when it comes about. Because in fairness, when you have to be the hostess of this year’s family Thanksgiving, you actually only have about 2-3 weeks to write this monster. Not an excuse, reality. But, the masochist that I am, I am actually considering it. Damn you!

  2. I couldn’t stay away. You’re a magnet, Richard. But I have to be better organized, in my room! Amazing thing happened. nr – (we are going by professional icons) e-mailed me and gave me advice on my new posting in my blog, poeticinteraction. Really helpful advice. She really knows her way, not only round the net, but around writing. So my memoir on the sixties is going to be my writing exercise, which I will keep separate from that longer ‘drone’ piece I am getting distance on by posting it on Webook. For me, the thing is to keep busy, either writing, or thinking, the latter being a necessary adjunct for me. Don’t think I’m missing out on opportunity now, just need to bolster up the ‘talent’ and ‘technique’. All in time. Not ready for any contests; wouldn’t mind dealing with more criticism though. Thanks Richard.

  3. Last year, I came close to finishing, reaching 47,000 words.

    Would have crossed the finish line if my mom hadn’t had a stroke the week before Thanksgiving. Dealing with her illness, and my father’s concerns distracted and detracted from my desire to write.

    Haven’t decided about this year. I know I “can” do it. Just not sure that I want to. Hmm . . .

    And Rik . . . your paperclip collection is looking well organized. Nice job. Now, go find your missing socks. 🙂

  4. I’m in – I’ve got an idea gestating. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in the story more than the general gist and that scares me a bit.

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