• NaPoWriMo - Week 3: Defining Success and Failure

    Are those tears of joy? Tears of sadness? At this point in the month, anything's possible. Regardless, by now you might be well on your way to achieving your goal! Maybe even past it! ... Or, not. 

    Join me below the break for details on how to make sense of the work you've done this month, and submission details.


    In a way, this is a month all about failure. In fact I'd say that's the point.

    There's a motivational idea I first heard back in 2014 in a video by Extra Credits on Failing Faster. As it sounds, failing faster is both the acknowledgement that:
    "No idea is made fully formed. No [story you write] will ever be right on the first pass. The art of what we do is simply spiralling towards a better center, course correcting along the way."
    and, the stories and properties we love most were made that way not because they were brilliant to begin with, but because they were worked on again and again, everyday:
    "As mere ideas, they're meaningless. Choose something, anything, begin to iterate, and fail faster."

    We're used to failure being a scary, heartbreaking thing, but it's so important.

    Failing faster means writing a first draft that you can tear apart and build on in revisions and editing.  Failing faster is about understanding that failure and revision is process. It's also a mindset, backed by psychology.

    So, your achievement orientation is basically why you do the work you do, what drives you, and social-cognitive researchers tend to find people are one of two ways:

    Either you're performance oriented, which is based on the belief that success is a result of being better than or comparable to your peers. You're looking for the right end results, a polished story worth featuring on the front page of FIMFiction. 

    Or, you're mastery oriented, where success is the result of effort and appropriate strategies. Because of that, you're more interested in trying to learn, exerting a high amount of effort.

    To sum up the research in a sentence or two, mastery-oriented students tended to achieve more and were better well-adjusted. On the other hand, a performance-orientation could predict a worse overall affect, avoidance of challenge, and poorer results.

    From what we know about the human brain, you're better off focusing on learning above making a top-notch magnum opus.


    So, you say, what about NaPoWriMo? I know how to win—I set my goal at the beginning of the month, winning just means reaching it. If I don't reach it, I don't win.

    Well, sure. Obviously the goal of NaPoWriMo is to write that 10 k or 50 k, or even 100,000. To finish what you set out to do. 

    But, while I know you can do it, I also want you to be able to reflect on what you've learned and what you've achieved. Even if you've made mistakes.

    Maybe you didn't know you could write that much. Maybe you had some writing skill you wanted to work on with this story. Maybe this is a genre you've never written for, a format you've never written in.

    Could be the characters are totally new to you, or you're creating your own. Or learning how to bypass some habits you have in your prose. 

    As much as I emphasize the word count to motivate you to write, that's not the only thing that makes your NaPo an impressive as all hell success. Neither is the story's quality for that matter. You wrote. You're still writing. You're growing as a writer, and finding a better way to tell this story or stories word by word.

    You're a goddamn hero is what you are and it blows me away.

    Submission Guidelines

    These guidelines are brought to you by a line of (filly) guides
    Don't worry, you don't have to submit just yet. In fact, you don't have to submit until after November 30th, and we'll go over this again then, but I just wanted to give you a heads up on what the submission process will look like so you're prepared.

    After 11:59 P.M. on November 30th, you'll be given 24 hours to submit the following information:
    • Your author name
    • Your story title/titles
    • Original Word Count Goal (I have it on file, but this is just a precaution to make sure)
    • Your Total Word Count for November
    • A link to either your story/stories
      • OR
    • A link to your profile/website/blog/wherever you post your stories
    Just like last time, all this info will be sent to [email protected] If you have any questions, you know where to find me!