I’ve been listening to the chatter surrounding NaNoWriMo for several weeks and with that came a certain revelation. Over half the people who signed up for NaNoWriMo this month will not finish what they started. Why is that? The biggest reason is that writers sabotage themselves without even knowing it.
Just like someone who is trying to lose weight or quit smoking will sabotage themselves, so does a writer. Riddle me this: Have you ever heard anyone who is planning to start a diet say, “If I can do it…”, if being the key word. Already the dieter is predicting their failure by not stating a concrete “I can do it.” The same goes for a smoker who is planning to quit smoking. On the day before they say they will quit smoking, they are supposed to throw away all smoking paraphernalia. However, upon closer inspection, they’ve kept their cigarette case or their lighter “just in case” they needed it. The smoker is already telling you that they won’t succeed in their attempt.
Over the last month, I’ve heard a lot of comments about the anticipation of NaNoWriMo. Some were uplifting, some were conveying excitement, but yet others were, unknowingly, an attempt for the writer to sabotage him/herself in the challenge. One writer even claimed that she would get around to another project when “NaNoWriMo lost steam” near the middle of the month. Another writer said that she would absolutely finish NaNoWriMo… unless she got frustrated and gave up first.
Are you sabotaging your own novel writing? While at first you may think no, that your thoughts and determination has been all positive, your interaction with other writers, even jokingly, might hold the key to why you feel like you need to give up part way through.
Starting a novel is the easy part. Finishing it when it’s no longer new, fresh, and exciting is the hard part. Finishing it when it seems like all the kids want to do is scream around you as you write, when it seems like your spouse views the endeavor as trivial is the hard part. But I don’t have to tell you that.
Think about your comments before you began NaNoWriMo. Were you one of the ones who joked that you’d be getting frustrated? Did you joke that you’d be kicking the computer across the room or that you’d have time for other pursuits when you “quit NaNoWriMo”? Those comments will likely reflect exactly what will happen to you during November.
If you recognize yourself in those statements, then you understand how detrimental, even in joking, it can be to your goals. And if you recognize yourself in those statements, then you have taken the first step into taking back the power that will help you finish your novel.
Prove your statements wrong and push through to the end of that novel, even when you “lose steam”.
Source: Personal Experience