Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Nano Could Be Good for Your Business

I've participated in NaNoWriMo every year. For those who don't know, the odd almost-acronym stands for "National Novel Writing Month," and it's an event in November where you're encouraged to try to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

I've done Nano for three years now. My first year, I didn't finish. My second year, I made the 50K mark--and went on to finish my first novel, which is now in the editing process. This year, I also made 50K--and it seemed much less painful this time than last. Now I have one first draft in the editing stage, and am halfway through something new--not a bad start to my goal of becoming a novelist.

Many people I talk to who want to write use their perfectionism as a crutch to keep them forever in the first-draft stage. They labor over every sentence, and each paragraph must be a work of art. Predictably, they lose momentum for months--even years--because their novel can never live up to the masterpiece they want it to be. I've been trying to write novels since I was ten--and up until a few years ago, this was how I operated too.

But there was something powerful about sitting down every day, for a period of time, to accomplish a specific goal. I powered through the doubt--and eventually I accomplished significant things. And it made me think--in what areas of my life am I getting in my own way?

Like novels, I often let perfectionism get in my way. With marketing, for example--I never want to send out a mailing until my website is perfect or my logo is updated. Not needed. All I need to do is sit down, put together a list, order some postcards, and wait for the business.

The same with networking events. I say I never have time--but I do. I just need to sit down, choose one--there are always a million going on in New York--and go. Better yet, make it a habit.

I'm starting to think I need to apply the discipline of Nano to other areas of my life. Where could you make use of it?


Unknown said...

Guilty. Guilty of perfectionist writing in that I edit as I go. It's a throw-back to my days of cranking out articles four in a month for the magazine and having to get them pitch perfect the first time. It's not a bad habit for nonfiction, but it kills creativity when you're writing a book.

And congratulations!! Two books done? I'm in awe!

John Soares said...

There's a saying I use to guide all my writing: "Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good."