Paper Doll’s NaNoWriMoMoMo (Novel Writing Month Monday Motivation)…Even for Non-Writers

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by Julie Bestry | No Comments

I always tell prospective clients that organizing isn’t about the stuff. It’s about the person who owns the stuff. That means that getting what you want out of the organizing process depends on getting what you want – a new set of behaviors – out of yourself. Whether you are organizing tangible things (your desktop and workspace, your home, your office) or organizing your time (work obligations, personal projects, family responsibilities, self-care), or organizing your thoughts (plans for the future, dialogue for your novel, deciding whether the other person loves you or just loves vanilla)…getting where you need to go depends upon organizing yourself.

But how do you get there? Last week, in Paper Doll’s How To Organize Yourself to Write for NaNoWriMo 2017, we talked about identifying your goals for writing, organizing your time, and charting your progress, but the truth is that motivation is an underpinning of all success.

In The 7 Secrets of Writing from the Best Writers in the World, Chad Grills collected advice about why to write as well as what to do to write better. My favorite quote from the article is from Steven King, who notably said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

In my book, 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business (for which I’m working on the second edition) I said that action precedes motivation.  We all want the end result: we want to be fit, eat beautiful meals, have organized homes. Not many of us are super-jazzed to get up at dawn to head to the gym, shop and prepare for hours to make magazine-perfect dinners, or develop organizing systems. (Even we professional organizers have trouble getting motivated for our own projects!)

You know what motivates? Small victories! Sit down to write and notice that your word count gets to 500. Then you realize that you’re almost a third of a way to your daily goal of 1667, and you’ll be inspired to keep writing! Head to the grocery store with the recipe for that soup or appetizer whose magazine photo makes you salivate and bring home those ingredients – your investment of time (and money) will inspire you to start chopping! Waiting to be inspired to declutter your room might keep you waiting forever – start by picking up all the clothes that need to be hung, folded, or laundered and get them to the right place, and you’ll start to notice the momentum building.

Organizing a ritual helps, too. Many of my work-from-home clients have trouble getting started; there’s no clear delineation between being at home (lazing over coffee and Twitter, running a load of laundry, chatting on the phone) and the work day when there’s no supervisor peering crankily over the cubicle’s edge. Develop a ritual, whether it’s going out for coffee and then returning to work, or exiting via the garage door, walking around the block, and come back in the front door. It helps trigger that school-bell alert that it’s time to change tasks. Develop a ritual for when it’s time to sit down to write, and soon enough, like Pavlov’s dog, you’ll be conditioned.

There’s a writing ritual story, likely somewhat apocryphal, about Victor Hugo. It’s said that he had his valet take away all of his clothes, and left naked, he had no choice but to write, as he could not go out until his valet would reappear at the appointed hour. In other versions, he was left swathed head-to-toe in a huge knitted shawl, the 19th-Century version of a Snuggie or Slanket. Whatever the truth, without his ritual, the world may never have been graced with The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Les Miserables, meaning we might never otherwise have heard Wolverine (I mean, Hugh Jackman) sing “One Day More.”

Remind yourself why you’re doing this project and develop strategies that reflect your personality. I tell my clients that getting organized (or anything else we do) has to have more than a goal in mind. Knowing you want your living room, dining room, and kitchen to be clear of detritus may be the goal, but why? Is it because you’d like to invite friends over for coffee or dinner parties to keep the loneliness of the cold winter months at bay? Being able to socialize without obstacles or embarrassment is the motivation to keep working toward your goal.

So, just as we discussed last week, know why you want to write. Two recent organizing and productivity posts offer a little inspiration for thinking about your whys:

In Taking A Binge Approach to Organizing Projects in Unclutterer, Alex Fayle talks about the concept of binge projects (like NaNoWriMo and 30-day challenges) and compares the benefits. See what he has to say about creating overall goals, breaking down tasks, getting support, developing positive peer pressure, gamifying your approach, silencing your doubts, and achieving your results.

Meanwhile, Gretchen Rubin, author of such books as The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies, looks at NaNoWriMo from the perspective of how to get from having a creative or entrepreneurial impulse to actually completing a project. In Signing Up for “NaNoWriMo”–National Novel Writing Month? Here’s Why It Works, Rubin looks at what it is about turning thought into deadline-oriented action that actually works for the Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels (the four tendencies she’s defined and made famous). Rubin borrows from her own Better Than Before to see how habit strategies like convenience, monitoring, scheduling, loophole-spotting, and taking first steps can help you thrive and excel at NaNoWriMo (and other such challenges).

Finally, over at the blog for Reedsy, a publishing assistance platform, they’ve collected 41 Insider Tips for Winning NaNoWriMo 2017.  My favorite tips are:

12. If you can’t block off a few hours each day, write in several shorter ‘sprints’.

In organizing, as in writing, too often people feel that if they can’t devote hours to a project then it is not worth attempting. But just as this article notes that you can use these sprints to get your creative juices flowing, you can do the same with your organizing.

In the five minutes you’re on hold with your credit card company, pull the expired spices out of your cabinet and make a list of what you need to replace. In the fifteen minutes before your favorite show comes on, go through two drawers in your dresser and move the sweaters you haven’t worn for a few seasons to the donation pile. And while you’re waiting for the water to boil for your pasta, open today’s mail, toss out all the exterior envelopes, move the bills to your bill-paying station, and shred those convenience checks and unwanted credit card offers!

16. ‘Perfect is the enemy of good.’ It isn’t exactly best friends with NaNoWriMo authors either.

Professional organizers tell our clients all the time: “Done is better than perfect.” If perfectionist procrastination is keeping you from starting a project because you fear it won’t be ideal when it’s done, then don’t aim for ideal. Just aim for done! Just as you can always edit and revise with writing, you can always modify your organizing systems, whether on your computer, in your paper files, or around your home.

40. Go through your manuscript and cut out all the words you don’t need.

Admittedly, timing is everything. For NaNoWriMo, you should write first, then edit. In organizing, it’s the opposite. Edit – cull, purge, pare down – whatever you don’t need, whatever you can find online (if it’s information), borrow from someone else (if it’s tangible), or cancel altogether (if it’s an obligation crowding you out of your schedule). Let it go.

I hope today’s post helped organize your motivation, whether you’re writing, decluttering, or working on any other kind of project.

Next NaNoWriMo Monday, we’ll be focusing on some tech tools to organize – whether you’re writing for NaNoWriMo, for work, or for academia. Meanwhile, I dare you to have read this whole post and not hum “One Day More” for the rest of your Monday.

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