How I Wrote a Novel, Part Four

(continued from part one, part two, and part three)

Before talking about the revision period, I wanted to get into a little more detail of how I finished the second half of my book. One of the things that I struggled with after the big marathon was finding the proper motivation. What, finishing the novel wasn’t enough? Apparently not. Watching my chart during November, knowing I was getting closer and closer to 50,000 words with each passing day, was a great motivator. But come January, the motivation was gone.

What was the problem? Well, burn out for starters, as can be expected. But after taking December off, that wasn’t an excuse anymore. Next problem? Well, there was the fact that I wasn’t really sure how long this thing was going to get. 100,000 words? 150,000 words? And how long would I take to finish it? Another marathon month? Two?

I figured I needed another nerdy chart to watch my progress, but with a wife and one year old at home, I didn’t want to put them through another crazy month. So I came up with a goal of another 50,000 words by the end of March. 50,000 words in THREE months? That meant I only had to work 1/3 as hard as last time! Easy!

Nope. By February I saw the goal slipping so I moved the end date to the end of April. Result:

Goal unmet

Pathetic. But you’ll notice I picked up some steam at the end there. What happened?

stickk happened.

I would not have started a novel without NaNoWriMo, but I would not have finished my novel if it weren’t for stickk. I highly recommend stickk for anyone who wants to “stick to a goal” (get it?). I chose a method that worked very well for me, and I called it negative reinforcement. I set a goal of 10,000 words from the last week of March to the end of April, 39 days. I gave stickk my credit card number. I authorized them to take $10 of my hard earned money and give it to an ANTI-charity (a politcal organization I was opposed to) if I didn’t meet my goal. You can set up a referee to tell stickk you stuck to the goal, but I chose the honor system. I WAS HONORABLE.

And it worked. Here’s a better view of late March and early April:

Much better

I still floundered a bit there. That was because the goal was so small (250 words a day). I needed a little more to keep the pressure on. For May, the goal was 12,379 words to get up to an even 80,000. June was 15,000 more words. That was a busy month and I was scared I wouldn’t make it, so July was back to the easier 10,000. For August I just needed a little more time to finish it up. I finished on August 8, 2011.

Every month I wagered $10 or $15 that could have gone to “the evil charity” if I didn’t meet my goal. And I was dead set on making sure they never got any of my money. They never did.

So I had finished a novel in less than a year, pretty cool. Except, as I said in part three, the two halves of the novel were very different. So really, I hadn’t finished at all. I was again only half-done. It was revision time.

Concluded in part five

2 thoughts on “How I Wrote a Novel, Part Four

  1. mikereverb says:

    Wow, that’s pretty hardcore! I thought Write or Die was hardcore, but putting cash on the line? Talk about motivations.

    I’m going to have to check out the other parts; seems like you had quite a journey. I could use all the motivation I can get to finish my own novel.

    Thanks for sharing!

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