One week in to NaNoWriMo (50,000 words of fiction in 30 days), and I am struggling. No surprise as this is my first attempt at long fiction. The more I push and try tips and tricks from the NaNo forums and Twitter feeds, the more frustrated I become. This weekend I had some insight between moments of swearing. Flying without a net (no plan) spells doom for a newbie novel writer. I went into the process with a vague idea, meaning a situation (kinda), two main characters (sorta), a goal to reach 50,000 words but no method to get there other than to write 1667 words a day. I was waiting for my muse to appear, for the writing to reveal the plot and subplots, for the fun to begin. Muahahahahaha! (An attempt at an evil laughed learned from playing online games.)
Sound familiar? Something like, “I want to lose XX number of pounds by a certain date. Here I go!” Using such a nebulous weight loss approach, one only has a number on a scale and a finishing date as goals. There is no plan, no behavioral framework to reach those ultimate goals. This can lead to trying various approaches – WW, low-carb, vegan, primal, etc. – accompanied by scrambling for support on the Internet or perhaps attending in-person groups. Frantically grasping at life lines as the days go by, you remain focused solely on the scale. Self-comparison to others who are zooming along leads to demoralization. Remembrances of prior attempts to lose weight, perhaps with success but always with regains, become pervasive. Demoralized, you give up.
Motivation isn’t enough. Once you have developed your internal motivation (look here if you need some help), you must have a plan that works for you, and it has to be in place before you start. Also, you should be prepared for pitfalls and places to turn to for help when the inevitable plateaus and discouraging moments hit.
There is no one-size-fits all (I hate clichés…) eating plan for losing weight. Science shows this is true. Calories in do not = calories out for everyone, especially for those of us with many fat cells in our bodies. This is not an excuse to forgo exercise or count calories. It is a recommendation to watch the quality of food (macronutrients) as well as quantity. What has worked for me won’t be palatable for many. What works for Dr. Oz is not compatible with my body. Find a food plan. Find a physical activity regimen. Then utilize the Processes of Change to drive yourself forward and keep moving to make this plan part of your life.
So what am I doing for NaNoWriMo now? I have scaled back my expectation to hit 50,000 words in by November 30. I have found two sites (they are linked below) that have been helpful to develop an outline and structure tailored for NaNo. (I have no less than a dozen books on how to write fiction and have down loaded 3 more, but those have to wait, no time to read now.) By tomorrow I will start writing again. I doubt this effort will ever get out of my computer, but the process of learning how to plan a long work of fiction and writing in concentrated efforts on one project will leave me with a sense of accomplishment and give me an idea if I want to pursue the novel form. Oh, I am still playing with the forums and twitter sites. They are fun; the company is great; the writing prompts are hysterical (kill someone with a shovel in the next 15 minutes); and I am ignoring those who write 4,000 words a day and brag about it. Show offs. (Remind me to tell you about my 2-pound weight gain…)