Knowing when to back out can be hard. Knowing when to keep going can be even harder. Put both of them together and you got yourself a nearly impossible feat.
I found myself stuck in one such predicament yesterday. You see, at the beginning of this year I set a goal to have my first YA fantasy novel (the same one I’ve been working on for the last three years) ready for submission by December 31st. I am nearly there. In fact, I am so close I can already picture the query letters going out to possible agents. I am also completely worn out. I want to quit. I want to close that file and not open it again for months.
Then along comes NaNoWriMo. A fun, annual event that takes place every November where writers from all over the world attempt to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Last year I woke up at 5:30AM nearly everyday to reach my goal, and even though I didn’t quite finish, I made lots of progress on my collection of short stories. It was a really fun experience, and one I had been looking forward to repeating this year.
However, yesterday after having finished the first one thousand words of my NaNoWriMo goal, I came to the realization that there is no way I’ll be able to finish my YA novel by December 31st if I dedicate so much time to NaNoWriMo this month. So I had to come to terms with myself and make a choice. I had to either back out from NaNoWriMo to push through the frustration and finish my YA novel, or back out from my YA novel to have a fun, no strings attached month with a new project.
I couldn’t help feeling disappointed no matter which path I considered. Then I realized that not finishing any of the projects I set out to accomplish would be more disappointing than anything else. If I quit so close to finishing something, it won’t matter how many new ideas or new drafts I come up with in one month. None will ever see the finish line. They will pile up, one after the other, collecting dust for who knows how long because I move on to something new when certain project gets difficult. That is not the kind of writer I want to be.
So I came up with an idea. It is a little bit scary, and I’m sure it will make me feel very self-conscious. But I know I need some sort of incentive if I am to fully commit to my goal and push through the next two months. My motivation will be you, my wonderful readers. I will update you every week on my progress, and if I ever fall behind and give into laziness and pity partying, feel free to call me out on it. In fact, let me extend the invitation and go a little farther. We all have projects we want to finish. Things we push back and procrastinate for whatever reason. In the next two months tackle something with me. Pick one of those projects you are dreading to finish or do altogether and keep me posted on your progress as I keep you posted on mine. Feel free to email me (you can sign up for my email list here), or post it in the comments section below. Heck, you can just leave me a line on facebook or twitter. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.
So here we go. This, in a strange way, makes the path ahead look a bit less dreadful. How about you? What are you going to accomplish by December 31st?