It’s been a while since I started writing my weekly articles. Each week, I share a personal story or reflect on an event from history and attempt to tie it back to some aspect of sales effectiveness, customer service, or leadership. And each week I am honored to hear from people who say my message resonated with them.
Thank you. Your feedback means the world to me.
I love writing. I love taking abstract concepts that are floating around in my head and making them real. I love the satisfaction that comes from creating something that didn’t exist before. And I love sharing my creation with you.
It’s been said that we all have a book or two inside of us. I believe that. We all have ideas, experiences, and observations that are dying to get out. Words that need to be shared. Dreams that long to be expressed. Each and every one of us could write a multitude of books.
I’ve decided to write one of mine.
November is National Novel Writing Month. According to founder Chris Baty, the goal is to encourage each and every person to get one of their books out of their head and into written form. The challenge is to make this happen during the month of November. The first challenge took place in 1999 and drew 21 participants, each accepting the challenge to create a rough draft of their novel within 30 days.
Writing a book is a daunting challenge. Like so many other meaningful activities (dieting, exercising, and cross-selling are a few that come to mind), it can seem overwhelming. It’s something we want to do, but it seems so difficult that we just keep putting it off.
But Baty says that writing a book doesn’t have to be that hard. During an interview with him I heard on National Public Radio, he provided a handful of tips for making the process more manageable. I think these tips work for any seemingly impossible goal you might be facing.
- Make a short-tem commitment. Give yourself a short window in which to achieve your goal. The more time you give yourself, the longer you’ll procrastinate. Ever spend the night before you go on vacation madly cleaning the house and tying up loose ends? It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a short deadline. So use this phenomenon to your advantage and give yourself a short leash.
- Break it down. Writing a 50,000 novel seems unattainable to most people. But breaking that goal down into 30 daily increments (about 1,700 words) makes it seem so much more manageable. My weekly articles tend to run between 500 and 600 words (this one is a little longer), and I can churn them out pretty quickly. So I just need to write the equivalent of three short articles a day.
- Get started. A lot of people are intimated by writing because they’re worried about the details. Maybe their spelling isn’t the greatest, or they’re afraid they’ll get some facts wrong. These are self-limiting barriers that keep us from attaining our goals. The key is to make the effort. Technique improves with practice; but you can’t get better if you never take the first step.
- Embrace accountability. If no one knows you’re trying something new, then there’s no downside to giving up. Making your commitment public invites others to check in on your progress. We all need a little help to succeed, whether it’s encouragement, constructive criticism, or a good kick in the pants every now and then. So ask others to help you succeed.
- Celebrate success. There will be good days and bad days along your route to achieving your goal. Our tendency is to focus on the bad ones. It’s important to stop periodically and recognize the advances you’ve made. The energy you get form seeing your progress will propel you forward. Again, having others invested in your project helps as it allows them to celebrate with you.
I’m both excited and terrified at the prospect of writing a novel. I’m going to try and keep these ideas in mind as I work my way through it. Hopefully 30 days from now I’ll have something to show for the effort. I invite you to choose a goal for yourself and join me for the ride.