How to Keep Going When Your Goals Seem Impossible (& A #NANOWRIMO UPDATE)

How to Keep Going When Your Goals Seem Impossible (& A #NANOWRIMO UPDATE)

We're eleven days into November and National Novel Writing Month.

A lot of writers get behind right around now or (like me) maybe you never got started for whatever reason.

For me, it was already being behind on a ton of things plus getting sick and then both of my kids getting sick one right after the other, plus last-minute editing work (which I was thankful for, actually).

So it’s been almost a month of dealing with all that, and, honestly, feeling like I’ve been behind the entire year.

My Absolute Best Tips for Outlining Your Novel & Creating a Story That Works

My Absolute Best Tips for Outlining Your Novel & Creating a Story That Works

Whether you’re in this November or not, I have some amazing tips for you today all about story structure and outlining your next novel.

NaNoWriMo has snuck up on me once again.

I thought I had at least a week left to put something together, but nope! We are less than a week away from November 1st. I have lots of ideas on paper and in my head but nothing super concrete yet, so I am now in scrambling mode because I definitely want to take part.

November is one of my favorite parts of the year because of this 50,000 word challenge and how much progress I can make in just 30 days :)

But it's important you go in knowing what you're doing story-wise.

top Resources on Outlining & Story Structure

First, I want to share four favorite resources for story structure and outlining (thanks to my friend, Thomas, for pointing out an extra one!).

Why You Should Totally Do #NaNoWriMo This Year (And What You Need To Do Now To Be Ready)

Why You Should Totally Do #NaNoWriMo This Year (And What You Need To Do Now To Be Ready)

Whether you’ve already announced it to the world that you’re all in this November or you just stumbled onto NaNoWriMo and what it is and you’ve never written anything before, I’m going to share with you:

  • why you should definitely consider participating this year
  • why NaNoWriMo is awesome, and
  • what you should be doing to start strong on November 1st.

I first did NaNoWriMo in 2011. If this isn’t your first time with me, you’ve probably heard this story before.

I was student teaching, I was about seven months pregnant, and I was in college. It was my first time writing a book, finally, after tons of false starts, and I did it.

I wrote 50,000 words and crossed the finish line. That book was complete garbage, but it was the beginning for me and how I eventually became an indie author.

After 2011, I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo again until 2014. I was a teacher during that time. Enough said.

But ever since 2014, I’ve written 50,000 words each November to create a 4-year streak now.

Which I didn’t even know about until the NaNoWriMo people sent me an email, like, are you signing up this year or what because you’ve got this 4-year streak going on? So how can I not do it now, right?

More about that later. First I want to talk about why you should totally do NaNoWriMo this year.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 29 (Never Stop Making Progress!)

Oh boy. So this last part of the month did not go as I planned.

I got bombarded with lots of day job and wedding planning stuff, and the truth is I chose not to make writing a priority during those several days. Very on and off, mostly off the past week or so.

But I’m back on the daily writing wagon, even knowing that I’m not going to meet my 40K goal.

And I’m completely okay with that.

Right now, this manuscript (Unforgettable Love) is at 30,608 words (77% done!). So yes, I’m slightly disappointed in myself because I could have easily won this challenge I set for myself, but I’m still very happy and proud of the 30K I have so far (with one more day to go).

Yes, I wanted a completed manuscript, and I fell short of that, but I’m almost there.

Things came up that I didn’t expect, but the important thing is that I didn’t do what I would have done a couple of years ago and just completely abandoned the book until months later.

Instead, I’ve adjusted my goals so that I’ll finish this book by May 15th at the absolute latest, but I should be done well ahead of that new schedule. If I just write 600ish words a day, I can make that new deadline. But it’s much more doable and I’ll also have time to exceed if I can and work on a ton of other stuff that I need to do (writing, marketing, exercise, and wedding stuff).

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that you can’t stop making progress no matter what.

No matter what.

Be it five minutes a day. 100 words. 500 words or thirty minutes if you can. But don’t skip a day. Because it will turn into two and then three.

I said several posts ago that my goal was to get to 3-4K daily. I still want to do that, but right now, I can’t do that daily amount so I’m scaling back to 1K a day until the wedding passes and I take care of some day job things that are coming up. I’ll produce slower but consistently until I can push my productivity to higher levels. Because it’ll mean another book formatted, marketed, and published, another written, yet another outlined.

How did you guys do during Camp NaNoWriMo?

Below is a quick summary of the progress I’ve made (and not made) the past several days that I did not publish a writing diary.

Day 23: 04.23.15 Thursday 0 words

Day 24: 04.24.15 Friday 789 words

Day 25: 04.25.15 Saturday 0 words

Day 26: 04.26.15 Sunday 0 words

Day 27: 04.27.15 Monday 0 words

Day 28: 04.28.15 Tuesday 2111 words

Today’s Data

Total Words: 1038

Total Word Count: 30,608

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 22

7:46pm So it's not even 8pm, and I've met both of my big daily goals. Write enough to stay on track for Camp NaNoWriMo and exercise.

I'm very surprised. Today was hell at the day job. I had to stay very late with no breaks, and I came home practically brain dead at about 3:15pm. Completely wiped. I went straight to bed to recuperate for at least an hour. I closed my eyes but couldn't really fall asleep. It was close to four, but I just couldn't bear to leave bed yet, so I caught up on blog reading. Then I tried to nap again but the fiance got home, and I made myself finally get up. The slight headache I had all afternoon got steadily worse. I had a snack and watched a bit of Netflix at the dining table.

Then I had the laptop open and ready to start, but I just could not get rid of this headache. So I closed the computer and worked out. That usually makes me feel better mentally. It did for the most part. I ran to the shower, grabbed the toddler, and brought her to her 6:30pm Wednesday church class.

I brought my laptop, and this is where I'm at now. I procrastinated a bit, but finally got started writing at 7pm. Her class ends at 8pm, and I made it my goal to finish my 1700 words for today by then. I had time for two pomodoros. I set the time for the first, but I was on a roll, so I didn't stop until 7:38pm when I crossed the finish line.

I'm so happy. I wrote probably my favorite scene of the book so far tonight. Carlos and Naomi's relationship is beautiful. The words were flowing, and I just kept thinking how far I've come as a writer. Like, hey, this doesn't completely suck! It's actually kinda good! Yay!

Don't you love these kinds of moments? I live for them, especially when the words get stuck, and they're not very good.

So anyway, I'm including Tuesday's and tonight's stats below. I know I forgot to post last night. No details on that since after today, I can hardly remember my name :)

Tuesday's (Yesterday's) Data

Total Words: 2067

Total Time: ?

Total Word Count: 24,919

Today's Data

Total Words: 1751

Total Time: 38 minutes

Average WPH: 2765 (new record!)

Total Word Count: 26,670

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 20

11:35pm

In bed right now. Really tired. But not a bad day. I've been on and off the past several days. Writing some days and not others with all the website stuff going on. But got back on track today.

Not right away though. 

Got home and had some lunch around 2. Then remembered I needed to post this week's Monday Must-Reads. So proceeded to do that while listening to the Author Biz podcast. Just got hooked on it recently. Great show. 

Got distracted about halfway through and started tinkering with the website again, updating more obscure but important pages, like the page thanking email subscribers. 

I also double checked the Unbreakable Love file and uploaded it to Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords to get it on Apple. I hate publishing through Apple and been hearing lots of great things about Smashwords and the updates it's doing. And recently decided to go wide again with my books. Select only helped marginally. But now that I'm about to publish my third book and soon my fourth, I think it's smart to publish and find readers everywhere. Unending Love will be going up everywhere at the end of June. Book 3 will be going wide out of the gate. Might experiment with Select again in the future but trying something else now. First book permafree with clickable image calls to action in the back of each book for my email list. I'm offering my books for free to all of my subscribers in the form of review copies. This should help increase the size of my list. 

So I finally published Monday Must-Reads and then started looking at my 2015 production plan. I've added lots of marketing tasks to it. So I transferred them to Asana and added deadlines and assigned them to projects. I'll do a post on the tools I use soon.  

At some point I also worked out and did some wedding planning stuff. Finally started writing around 9pm. Forgot to track time and all that but happy I met my daily 1715 word goal around 10:30pm. I believe I did about two pomodoros with a long break and perhaps a distraction. So not bad. But again, working on getting words done earlier. Lots of procrastination today. And also feeling pressure of getting marketing stuff done. 

Today's Data

Total Words: 1718

Total Time: 75-90 minutes with break

Total Word Count: 22,852

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 19

11:19pm

So no words today. Got a lot of marketing related stuff done but no words. So that sucks. But I took a list at my marketing tasks for April and just was like... 

I really needed to work on optimizing the back matter for my current two books. Then optimizing my website, specifically the books pages. Also found a great website that takes the Amazon link for your book and then gives you back a new link that will open for customers in whatever country they are in. Then reconfigured sidebar (way too cluttered) and menus. New reading section!

I'm trying to get a lot of this stuff set up for when Unfailing Love releases. I need the calls to action in the back matter ready, my book pages, and email list drip campaign done. 

I also need to get the Unfailing Love cover done once and for all. Ugh. 

So yeah. No words today but I will have new words tomorrow. Not as much marketing stuff to do tomorrow since I did most of that today. 

Today's Data

Total Words: 0

New Words: 0

Total Word Count: 20,134

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 18

Woke up at 9ish this morning, determined to get my words done early. Took a shower, sat at the dining table, and also got breakfast ready (and ate) as I wrote for an hour and twenty minutes.  Then wedding errands called so finally tore myself away after 892 words around 11:15am. More than halfway done for the day. Didn't get back home until about 3pm. Then left again to go grocery shopping and another errand. Back around 5pm. Talk about mentally drained. 

Then I had lunch and got some editing stuff done. Finally got started on words around 8:30, again on and off, finished around 9:30pm. Wanted to keep writing and hit 2k but other duties called. Then watched part of a movie, finally did my workout, and about to go to bed at midnight. Gonna try to get my words done early tomorrow too. No plans to be out and about like today. 

Today's Data

Total Words: 1678

Total Time: 140 minutes (on and off)

Total Word Count: 21,134

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 17

11:23pm

Another long day today. Stayed really late at work then had lunch at Chickfila with the toddler and finished up more day job stuff while she played on the playground. Finally wrapped everything up at home around 5:30pm and kinda took a break to get some more bills stuff done. No luck due to wifi and phone issues. And the toddler tried to shave again after she went to go potty so dealing with that was interesting. She's fine but we fell asleep together for a well needed nap (for us both). Woke up around 9:30pm and had a big late dinner (ugh). Did some cleaning and am now on the couch about to go to bed. So no words today. Was productive with day job stuff so that means I should have most of the weekend free to produce words and get back on track. Just been super tired this week. 

Today's Data

Total Words: 0

Total Time: 0

Total Word Count: 19456

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 16

11:28pm

Not a very productive day today. For a couple of reasons.

I wrote exactly nine words in about 9 minutes. And I was just so tired that I couldn’t write any more than that.

Not enough sleep. Some family things came up today that took up my entire afternoon. Left to take care of them right after work and didn’t get home until past six pm. It’s the end of the week, and I’m more tired than usual.

I fit in my workout and took a shower. Lay down a few minutes to read and watch the toddler play.

Then sat down at the desk. Wrote the 9 words. Tried to go write somewhere else. Had a small dinner instead and then just felt so burnt out. My body was just tired. I couldn’t read straight. I just wanted to sleep.

I sat on the couch with a blanket and watched some mind-numbing TV for about twenty minutes. And I decided I wouldn’t be writing today. I needed a night off. And it would be completely okay.

Because this book isn’t going to get to 50K anyway, and yeah it would be nice to pump through the first draft in a total of 2-3 weeks, but you know what? My health has to come first, and this week has been tough. I can’t seem to get back into my usual routine. I keep sleeping way too late for various reasons.

Tonight it was because I needed to write the front and back matter for Unfailing Love and separate the draft into chapters. Because I just don’t think or write in chapters, so I save it for last. But I completely forgot about it this time around, and I kept having the feeling that I was forgetting something, and that was it. Took a while. Then getting it formatted for the proofreader to go ahead and send it to her.

Overall, though, I’m really happy that that book is getting ready for publication. And from what I’ve seen, Unforgettable Love shouldn’t need too many revisions. Which means I can publish it faster. That has been my main goal. Write fast and do research first to cut down on revision time later.

So back to not writing and the book not being 50k. I think at most, it will be 40K, probably 35K. So I don’t absolutely have to be writing 2K every day to meet a 50K goal because there really isn’t one (getting to finish early is different but like I said, health is more important right now).

So I changed the goal to 40K on Camp NaNoWriMo, MyWriteClub, and Scrivener. To meet my 40K goal and finish this first draft, I need to write about 1500 words a day.

Much more manageable! So I’ll be doing that. And also working on some marketing stuff, getting ready for my next release in May/June.

This is what my new Camp NaNoWriMo chart looks like. Not saying I’m not going to finish the draft early anymore, but hey, not as much pressure now. Only about 2K behind, mostly because I took tonight off. No regrets.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.38.34 PM

Today’s Data

Total Words: 9

Total Time: 1 minute

Total Word Count: 19,456