Writing a book is a common goal on many people’s ‘someday’ list. For many, the goal seems overwhelming. They don’t know where to start… and so they do nothing.
That was how I felt before I discovered National Novel Writing Month. I was fortunate enough to discover it in 2005 when I was only sixteen years old – I’ve been writing since I was six or seven. Since that year, I have written 4 books, each having 50,000 words or more.
I’m not saying these books were shelf-ready by any means. The one I wrote when I was sixteen should never see the light of day. A few others have also not reached publication, and the ones that did have been both personally and professionally edited multiple times. However, it wouldn’t have been possible to turn something into a polished final version without that messy first draft.
What I’ve loved about writing a book in a month is how it carries over to real life. Here are three life lessons from completing a book in 30 days:
1. Focus is Powerful
The years I’ve been successful with National Novel Writing Month, it’s been because I made working on the book my primary focus. Unwavering attention on a goal amplifies the chances for success tenfold.
When a person wants to improve their health and fitness, they often try to change too much too fast. If they instead chose one or maybe two things to focus on changing first, they would have a great chance of seeing consistency in that area. Maybe their one thing is moving their body daily in some way or getting more sleep every night. Focus on that thing and doing it regularly will reap fantastic benefits.
The other thing that makes focus possible in National Novel Writing Month is the deadline. Whenever I’ve given myself an open-ended finish line for a writing or personal project, I procrastinate. I think that’s typical of human nature. But when someone has a day-specific deadline for their goal, their chances of reaching it increase. For a person on a health and fitness journey, signing up for races or challenging hikes can be a great way to put a deadline in place.
2. Daily Action Adds Up
Chris Baty, the creator of National Novel Writing Month, suggests that people don’t think about writing 50,000 words right off the bat. That number itself is daunting. Instead, he encourages people to think about writing 1,667 words daily. This sounds far more doable when broken up into daily segments. Some days a person might write a little less or a little more, but having a daily target to stick to makes all the differences.
This strategy works fantastic when undertaking any large goal, whether it’s writing a book, starting a business, training to run a marathon, or losing a significant amount of weight. Thinking of the big-picture scale of these goals can be terrifying and almost paralysing. Any big-picture goal can and should be broken up into daily action.
We will never wake up one day to find these goals realized. We reach these larger goals by taking consistent, daily action towards them. You run a 50 mile-race one step at a time, and you write a 50,000 book one word at a time.
3. Your Inner Critic Has to Go!
A person’s Inner Critic is one of the major factors keeping them from victory. This is the ugly, insatiable voice in our heads that wants us to do things perfectly or not at all. Nothing we do seems good enough for this voice. Often, this critic keeps us stuck and unable to move forwards.
To reach many of our goals, we have to put this Inner Critic in a box or stuff a sock in his mouth, something that will keep him quiet for a little while. We have to give ourselves permission to make mistakes and experience setbacks. We don’t get better when everything goes well. We get better when we make mistakes and learn from them.
Letting go of the Inner Critic removes a lot of fear, doubt, and procrastination from a person’s life. It makes any goal easier, whether it’s health-related, work-related, or creativity-related.
When we let go of the Inner Critic in our health and fitness journey, we let go of the debilitating need to get everything perfect. We can try new things, and find an eating rhythm and workout routine that works well for us.
Writing a book in 30 days has taught me so much and been a life-changing experience. That’s why I’m beyond excited to be leading the first ever Ascend Into Authorship – a 7-week workshop that will set up participants to write their first draft in 30 days.
Registration is now open for the workshop, and only 6 spots are left. Early bird pricing ends October 10th – Click here learn more or to reserve your spot!
About Kayla – Kayla is a certified personal trainer, mind body eating coach at Ascend Fitness + Lifestyle. She has also published two dystopian novels that tackle the themes of body image and female empowerment. Her area of expertise is helping women free themselves from the clutches of emotional eating and body hate so they can live rich, textured, present lives.