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What's Your Vision?

Remember, remember, the fifth of November….

A few days into November already and with all the furious NaNoWriMo-ing afoot, it seems like a good time to talk about motivation.

As I'm sure you all know, the frustrating thing about intentions is that the desire to write does not always equal actual writing time. This article claims that the highest “win” rate in NaNoWriMo history is 19.2%. So for every 100 people who set out to write a novel in November, less than 20 of them will reach their goal. I have no idea what happened to the other 80.8%, but I think it’s fair to say that somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, they lost motivation to complete their novels.

Maintaining motivation is hard. That’s really what the NaNoWriMo exercise is about. It’s about commitment and focus in the face of adversity and competing priorities. So as the days of November slip and oh my god you’re falling behind and this story sucks and everyone’s written more than you and school is stressful and work is worse and oh no the holidays are coming…how can you stay focused on why you’re writing in the first place?

One solution: remind yourself. Focus in on your goal.

Big companies have slogans, right? Just a few quick words that sum up their brand or vision, such as...

Nike: Just do it
Ford:  Built for the road ahead
Apple: I’m a Mac
Estee Lauder: Bringing the best to everyone we touch
Barnes & Noble: Booksellers

Well, you can do the same thing. Not that you’re a brand, but you do have a vision. So hone in on that and use it help keep you motivated. Sell yourself to you.

In that spirit, here’s a quick exercise to help you come up with your own personal writing campaign or slogan.

Step1: In a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, get a piece of paper and your favorite writing implement.

Step 2: Spend twenty minutes writing down all the reasons that you write. All of them! Just go into brainstorm mode. Don’t worry about sounding lofty or deep. Be honest. Write down what writing means to you. Your dreams. Your hopes. The feeling you get when you write. The feeling you get when you read what you’ve written. What are you trying to say? Who are you speaking to? Do you write for a sense of accomplishment? For fun? Because your voice has been silenced before? Get it all down.

Step 3: Now look back over the list that you wrote. With a different colored writing tool, circle two or three items on your list that really speak to you.

Step 4: On a fresh piece of paper, come up with a short sentence or saying that represents the items that you’ve circled.

Step 5: Voila! You have your personal vision, your own writing slogan that sums up your motivation for writing. Now type it up. Print it out. Tape it to your computer. Your journal. Put it in the header of your document. Tape it to your television’s remote control. Tape it to your iPad. Make it your screensaver. Put it anywhere and everywhere so that as November drags on and all life’s surprises and competing priorities start to clamor for your attention, you can remember why you started this whole crazy writing thing in the first place.

Step 6: In the comments, tell us what you came up with so that we can cheer you on too!

 Oh, and here's mine, inspired by a recent Road Trip Wednesday topic:

Write to find meaning. No, really, find it. 

Happy writing!

Stephanie Kuehn

Stephanie is the William C. Morris award-winning author of Charm & Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil.

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  1. Besides being helpful for NaNoWriMo, these tips would be really great as one of the first activities in a creative writing course. I think I'm going to borrow them!

  2. Ooo, I like this. I want to know other people's slogans. I already have one: 'Write Here. Write Now'.

    As far as the 19.2% who finish NaNo WriMo I would like to suggest that this is more a reflection of all the people who sign up who have no idea how hard it is to write anything, much less a novel. So many times people have said to me "I've been thinking of writing a novel" in the same tone as I might say "I've been thinking about baking a cake". The fact is, in a room full of 100 people who think that they have something to say, only about 20 actually will.

  3. I love this Steph. Love it. I find that having something short and sweet like this is sometimes all I need to get refocused and re-energized about a project.

    And I love your slogan! I don't have mine yet but I'm gonna work on it today!

  4. Thanks guys!

    Tarah, your class sounds fun!

    Angel, what a great slogan. I love it! Thank you for sharing. And yeah, I agree about people signing up for NaNoWriMo and not realizing how hard a challenge it really is!

    Go Sarah!

  5. Ooooh like Tarah said - great starter exercise! I would put my vision down but it sounds egotistical lol

  6. This is an awesome idea! I think I'll try it tomorrow! I'm two days behind on NaNo at the moment, and maybe this is what I really need: a reminder of why I love to write.


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