November is #NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of people all over the world write a novel of 50,000w in 30 days. Insane you say? Why put so much pressure on yourself? I’ve not done NaNoWriMo myself, but I’ve considered it. Recently I’ve been wondering what other creatives and entrepreneurs can learn from the discipline of #NaNoWriMo.
When you start a new project, one way to get really involved is to totally immerse yourself in it. Set aside the time, try new things, look at it in new ways, don’t worry about someone looking over your shoulder. The important thing is to get it down. As a visual artist, I find when I only work at intervals I never really get to grips with the heart of the project and it’s easy to lose interest.
2. Quantity not Quality
I’m a firm believer in the motto my painting mentor, the late Fred Reichman taught me:
Focus on quantity not quality. The quality will come once you do enough work.
Another way to think of this is practice, practice, practice. Novelists often agonize over the first chapter and some barely get beyond it looking for that perfect gripping opening. In a novel you really want to just get down the first shitty draft of the entire book. That’s not to say that no good work will come from #NaNoWriMo, but the chance are it won’t be people’s best work. Once you have the first draft in place you can start to edit, fine tune and make it the best it can be.
This could apply to any project you’re working on. Do whatever you need to do to keep going, improving things again and again until you like the look of what you’ve created.
Painters often do a series of works with the same motif, sometimes over a period of years. The continuity developed in a series can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Fred was still working on paintings of cats like the one above not long before he died in 2003, over 30 years after the painting above was finished. I always appreciated his minimalist style.
Writing 50,000w in a month takes a huge amount of time and effort. The single most important thing in order to actually accomplish this is commitment. If you work a little on this and a little on that, setting aside projects for months on end, clearly you are not committing to your work. And the results will reflect that. So if you really want to see some results, commit to the darn thing and start producing some of your best work!
Alternative to #NaNoWriMo for Other Creatives? #NaKiCreMo?
Could there be another dedicated month that is not so defined (ie. not just for writing) that other creatives can participate in instead of NaNoWriMo? There’s nothing like being part of a community of people who are all pulling together to achieve something.
I mulled over the possibilities of National Art & Creativity Month – NaArCreMo, National Arts & Crafts Month – NaArCraMo, but decided the one I liked best was National KickAss Creative Month – NaKiCreMo. What do you think?
How do you approach your projects? Do you like to move slowly, not at all immersed, and hope it will all somehow come together? What is your level of commitment, and what influences that commitment?
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