~85% will fail NaNoWriMo. How about you?
It can’t be all of the excitement with which NaNoWriMo begins — that’s pure enthusiasm. Hundreds of thousands of wonderful people from all over our planet gather to celebrate the birth of November and the promise of fun, adventure, and cherished dreams fulfilled. With the vision of glory and “winning” on the horizon, NaNoWriMo always begins with massive and exuberant collective joy.
And then… life continues.
Moment by moment, the enthusiasm through which it all began slowly fades away as the days progress. First we miss one day of writing and think “no problem, I’ll make it up tomorrow.” Then it happens again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Until finally we hang our head in disappointment and accept our own defeat. For many of us, this broken dream becomes just another to pile atop our already sizable mountain.
It’s not the word count goal: 50,000 words in one month is only 1,667 words per day. If we were to truly apply the NaNoWriMo philosophy and “Just Write!” at a very leisurely 50 words per minute, it would take us about 34 minutes to finish. Many of us routinely spend far more time every day on far less desirable outcomes.
The real problem is that for many of us, writing daily for NaNoWriMo is a new behavior. Adopting new behaviors is sometimes complicated. Like beginning a new exercise routine. Or meditation. Or yoga. Or anything else really. It starts with the best intentions and often with great enthusiasm, but this sugar-high of an excitement tends to fade away. This tendency towards fading consistency is not unique to NaNoWriMo. It’s a feature of our humanity — it is the challenge of habit-creation and behavioral science.
How do we create this new behavior so that it sticks?
Scientists tell us that we tend to move away from things that bring us pain and towards the things which bring us pleasure. If we start to feel bad when we attempt to write, we will naturally move away from wanting to write. As we move away from wanting to write, we will of course fail NaNoWriMo and find an infinity of reasons to blame. But really, it just felt bad somehow. Then we tend to feel bad about feeling bad and we naturally, scientifically move away from the perceived source of our pain.
Science told us.
If we were to actually “Just Write!” as NaNoWriMo suggests, it can feel entirely amazing. We could experience blissful and electric flow as our thoughts come through us effortlessly onto the page. It can be an experience of realtime awesomeness and total enjoyment.
This experience isn’t new to us. It is called the “Flow State” and you’ve probably heard about it plenty and often by now. It’s the magic space, where we want to be. In this amazing state, we create without friction. This is what we want. We want to feel amazing as we write, near-orgasmic even. We move towards pleasure.
There’s an inner critic that sits right behind our eyes and talks with us as we try to express ourselves. It can be harsh and confusing and can feel very bad if it is allowed to operate as we try to create. If we listen to it, we can start on a train of thought that will lead us astray from our free flowing inspirations. It will chase our often delicate muse very far away. This will feel horrible and then cause us to move away from our perceived source of pain, our attempt at writing.
Science told us.
There’s a valuable place for this inner critic, but it isn’t during NaNoWriMo. It’s for after. Editing comes later. First we must find a way to allow ourselves the freedom to write and express openly without restraint. Go anywhere our thoughts bring us. Surprise ourselves with what emerges. Let it be free, wild and spontaneous. Let it run. Let it fly. Whatever and everything it wants.
Then we structure. Then we edit.
After NaNoWriMo, in December and beyond.
If we can allow ourselves to experience the freedom of just writing and living into the philosophy of NaNoWriMo, what could have felt horrible will feel absolutely amazing and become an upward spiral of bliss and joy, effortlessly delivering with it the coveted title of “NANOWRIMO WINNER!”
This is they key — make writing feel amazing.
Train ourselves into the Flow State while writing.
Everything about the “Flow State” depends on feeling good while engaging with our activities. If we can get into the zone, all of the feel-good chemicals come online for us and flood our body with NaNoWriMo-winning joy.
We must find ways to feel good while writing.
ilys = Just Write!
Once you start writing, you can only continue or stop entirely.
You can’t see what you’re writing. You can’t edit. You can’t go back.
It’s all realtime flow, if you allow yourself to just keep going no matter what.
As you continue to write, notice yourself feeling better and better by allowing your words to flow through you. It’s addictive and meditative.
This is what we want. Become addicted to the good feelings that free flowing through our writing can create. This addiction wins NaNoWriMo. It’s the “runner’s high” for writers.
Think later, in December.
See what you wanted to release if you got out of your own way long enough to find out.
Notice yourself feeling good as this happens.
Remember, feeling good is all-important because we will move towards what feels good, and away from what feels bad.
We want to feel good and move towards writing — feel good and move towards winning NaNoWriMo.
It’s what Science says.
Having created ilys, I regularly get emotional thank you messages from my users about having tremendous days, sometimes reaching 15,000 words.
They’ve been training themselves to get into the Flow State of writing and to live the NaNoWriMo philosophy. What they find is that once their mind and body get into the flow, the creation comes effortlessly. Its as if it moves on its own. It wants to come out and it will if we don’t stop it with our conflicted thoughts and bad feelings.
I personally owe much to NaNoWriMo. It has inspired ilys into being what it is, and ilys has helped to make my life an incredibly lucid adventure. In wanting to say thank you to everything that is NaNoWriMo, which as far as I can see is the ultimate fulfillment of human potential, ilys is creating a super-awesome-thing for WriMos. If you create an account through this link (https://www.ilys.com/nanowrimo), instead of the standard 3,000 free trial words, you will get so very much more: 108,000. This means your account is free with enough words to complete two 54,000 word stories. That’s winning NaNoWriMo twice! Think that can’t happen? Here is a video of Thomas Harper who did just that — won NaNoWriMo twice in one month with ilys.
If you’re going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year, shouldn’t you give yourself and your friends the best tools available? You might want to see other people’s opinions too, they’ve had great success with NaNoWriMo and ilys. Or, read The Next Web, whose Editor At Large, Martin Bryant, called the ilys writing experience to be “by far the most distraction-free I’ve ever seen” and he’s seen quite many.
You get the idea…
Oh, and a handful of us are going to the Fekra Cultural Center at the banks of the Nile in Southern Egypt to complete NaNoWriMo in about 10 days of writing, meditating, practicing yoga, sightseeing and more — while being completely taken care of in almost every single way by an amazing and most attentive team. Fekra is on a private peninsula in the middle of a nature conservation area and across from the temple of the Goddess Isis. We only have 6 open spots, from November 8th until the 20th. Want to go? Click here and let us know. It won’t be cheap, but it will be amazing!
So good luck and Godspeed — you CAN do it!
ilys = JUST KEEP WRITING!