Choosing to participate in a 30-day writing challenge is a commitment made to yourself. Whether you decide to write fiction or nonfiction, you promise to finish your writing project—such as a book—in a month. Even if you told your friends or writing buddies of your plans, it’s your self-integrity that matters.
You only need to report your progress to yourself—no one else. And by keeping your promise to yourself, you demonstrate self-integrity.
Self-integrity matters…a lot. Yet, many writers that participate in a 30-day writing challenge, like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), don’t have integrity—at least not with themselves.
How do I know this? Because NaNoWriMo reported that one year the organization had 287,327 participants but only 35,387 “winners.” That means that only 29% of the writers who began novels during the event actually finished them.
As the founder of NaNonFiWriMo, more often called the Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge, I see the same results. Writers take on the challenge with high hopes. They promise themselves that this time they will start and finish a nonfiction project—even a short one. And the majority start…but don’t finish.
They lack self-integrity. So, these writers fail to keep their word to themselves.
Do You Keep Your Promises?
Let’s say you committed to writing a book in a month. But how serious are you about that commitment? How likely are you to keep your word to yourself?
Look back at how many times you’ve promised yourself you would do something, like write daily, stick to a diet, exercise regularly, or stay in contact with your friends. And how many of those times did you…or didn’t you…keep the promise? Or how many times have you tried to write a book in a month and never finished the project at all…let alone in that timeframe?
Most people don’t take their promises to themselves seriously, so you aren’t alone. Like them, I bet you keep your commitments to others, though.
Think about the promises you made to family, friends, coworkers, or others. Did you keep your word? Did you do so more often than you kept your word to yourself? I bet you did.
The Damage Created by Lack of Self-Integrity
Lack of self-integrity has serious repercussions. In fact, not keeping your commitments to yourself lowers your levels of self-esteem and confidence. Therefore, each time you lack self-integrity, you make it harder to keep your word to yourself the next time.
You will have good intentions of following through on your commitment, but you won’t believe you can do it deep down inside. And eventually, you’ll let yourself off the hook. In other words, you’ll find an excuse, like “I couldn’t finish my book project in a month because the dog got sick…” or Thanksgiving took up too much of my time, I had a work deadline, or whatever.
So, if you promise yourself to complete a 30-day writing challenge, keep that promise. Be self-integral, and write consistently until you meet your goal. Do that, and you increase your levels of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Then, you’ll find it easier to complete your 30-day challenge writing projects. Additionally, you can finish a writing project on a deadline any other time of the year. Finally, your increased level of self-integrity will help you write consistently all year long.
Your Identity Determines Your Results
One of the best ways to become self-integral involves choosing an identity. (Yes…you can do that!) Then, be congruent with the identity you have chosen.
For instance, if you want to be a writer—a person who writes—writing daily is an action that aligns with that identity. But, if you have historically been an inconsistent writer, as long as you choose to maintain that identity, you will write sporadically. Writing now and then will be congruent with your identity.
Decide who you want to be. Then do the things that person would do, and you will create the results you desire.
Be someone who finishes what they start. If you then decide to write a book in a month, you’ll do exactly that—complete the project on deadline.
Or choose to be self-integral. With that identity, you will keep your promises to yourself. And, as a result, you will do what you say you are going to do. In this case, you’ll write a book in a month.
7 Strategies for Finishing a 30-Day Writing Challenge
Beyond self-integrity and identity, other strategies can help you complete a 30-day writing challenge.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make the challenge doable, so you don’t bail on your promise to yourself. The WNFIN Challenge does not specify how many words you need to complete in a month. The rules are simple: pick a project, and then start and finish it in 30 days. This allows writers to take on only the projects that set them up for success. If you know you can’t write 50,000 words in a month, acknowledge that and choose a more manageable commitment—one you can keep.
- Make it a stretch. If you commit to a 30-day writing goal that is too easy, you won’t challenge yourself. A stretch goal asks you to move out of your comfort zone but still feels doable. And when you accomplish that goal, your confidence level will increase. Why? Because you did what you said you would do!
- Be realistic. I’m all for optimism, which leans toward being unrealistic, but not when deciding on a 30-day writing challenge goal. When you choose to write a book (or anything else) in 30 days, you must feel confident that you have the bandwidth to do so. So, determine how much time you really have to write during that month. Then, evaluate how many hours you need to complete the project. If you feel confident you can finish in a month, great! Make it happen.
- Keep your promise to yourself. Once you commit to a 30-day challenge, don’t give yourself an out! Be self-integral. Period. Do what you said you would do—even when life threatens to get in the way. Complete your writing project in a month. Then you’ll have the confidence and the competence to do so repeatedly.
- Find an accountability partner. If you believe you don’t have the self-integrity to start and finish your writing project in a month, increase your level of accountability—to someone else. To prevent yourself from backing out at some point, hook up with another writer who is doing the challenge, too. (You can also be accountable to a non-writer.) Both of you can report on your progress daily or weekly and keep each other on track. Your accountability partner needs to be firm with you! They should not let you off the hook.)
- Be a person who finishes what they start. Choose this as your identity for the entire month. Then do what that person would do…write consistently from start to finish. That’s how you will achieve the results you desire—a finished writing project in just 30 days.
- Celebrate completion. A great way to impress on your brain that you can and do keep your promises to yourself is to acknowledge them. Do something to celebrate your new level of self-integrity as well as your writing accomplishment. Then turn around and do it again!
No one takes on a 30-day writing challenge with the intention of quitting partway through. But you can increase your chances of completing it if you intend to be a self-integral person. Then, if you say you will start and finish your writing project in a month, you will.
Do you have the self-integrity to complete a 30-day writing challenge? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with another writer.
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Photo courtesy of evgenyatamanenko.