I fell off the wagon with Camp NaNoWriMo in April, hard. It was particularly frustrating since I’d had a decent writing routine going in the run up to starting Camp and it all fell apart. I ruminated plenty on why so I could fix it for this time and ultimately it comes down to two things:
I tried to do too many things that didn’t matter.
I spent more time trying to report on progress than actually writing. I thought it was a good idea to try to vlog and blog, both new habits for me, at the same time as smashing a big word count goal.
I’m a perfectionist in the crippling ‘I can’t do it if it won’t be perfect’ kind of way. As my mental health wasn’t in a strong place at the time, I lacked the resilience to deal with failure and I failed pretty quickly on vlogging. Blogging followed soon after. That left me feeling pretty low.
I didn’t leave enough slack in my plan.
Slack in planning is about providing space for things to go wrong. When I was a project planner, I always added plenty of slack before committing to a fixed deadline and we almost always ended up needing it. Slack was the difference between delivering on time and failing.
I’m usually pretty good at planning for life’s uncertainties but not so much this time. My plans were a mess from the start and then my Uncle Martin died Easter weekend which was tough emotionally. Looking back at my daily targets, I think I was feeling pretty great, things had been going well health-wise, and I forgot to adjust for the low (or even the norm) rather than the high.
What little slack I did have, I lost early on to sickness and I hadn’t allowed enough time if I really wanted to vlog and blog everything.
But I didn’t do that badly.
I realised midway through that I needed more planning time and wasn’t ready to write so I changed my goal from words to hours and went back to outlining. I calculated it based on writing 1.5k words/hour which is my robust average. The hours goal was not adjusted for the bad month I’d been having but I had originally expected to hit the word count much earlier in the month so it sort of balanced out.
Target: 55 hours
Actual: 49 hours
89% of target
I ended up only having 17 days available to write so that averages to just under 3 hours/day. I’m OK with that. Not delighted, but it’s alright under the circumstances.
Let’s try that again.
I’ll be trying again this July with a target of 60 hours. Whilst that’s higher, July has way less going on than April did and my plan includes a lot more slack than last time.
I stuck with hours rather than a word count goal because the ‘butt in chair’ habit is my focus right now. I’m starting from scratch on a new project so the first week will be spent outlining and I don’t like measuring that in words either.
An hours goal can lead to doing busy work, the stuff that fills time but is ultimately not important, just to hit the numbers but I always track my output so I will notice if my productivity is poor and I’ll try not to lie to myself about it!