“I failed to write 40,000 more words to complete my NaNoWriMo2016 goal. Weird too, because I never fail to write 50,000 words. In fact, I’ve probably written more than 10 million words to date.” -My response to “Happy December, Writers”
So, why would it be so difficult for a professional writer, such as me, to hit the mark of writing 50,000 words in 30 days?
Please note, I’m not making an excuse for my failure.
“Excuses are the tools of the incompetent. They build monuments of nothingness. Those who dwell in them rarely excel at anything else.”
There is, however, a lesson in failure – I missed the mark due to an improperly identified goal.
For example, a toddler doesn’t get up one day and say, “I’ll try my hand at walking.” No, she says to herself, “I want that big shiny thing on the other side of the room.”
Of course, she can cry and point to the thing hoping someone will bring it to her. Or like most toddlers, she’ll crawl, wobble, stand, take a step, fall but she’ll go for it. If you’ve seen a toddler attempting to walk, you already know she’ll spend a lot of time on her butt.
If she’s motivated more by achieving her goal than deterred by the pain and inconvenience; she will eventually obtain the big shiny thing. Whereas, learning how to walk was simply the means to her end. It was never her goal.
Unlike the toddler, as we age, we confuse goals and means. We’re so attached to our means that we forget if we’re to achieve a goal – it must have an emotional component. If there’s no emotional attachment to the outcome; there’s no goal achievement. It’s as simple as that. When we identify the emotional component then we must determine if it’s enough to sustain our desire through goal completion.
No SMART (Specific-Measurable-Assignable-Realistic-Time-related) goal can help us to achieve anything without it being a SMARTED goal. That is, a goal filled with Emotion and Desire.
Sure, we complete goals because we have integrity. If we say we’re going to do something for others, we do it. Maybe not as passionately as we would if there were a burning desire attached but we get it done.
Personal goals, what we do when we think no one is watching, are a bit trickier to achieve.
When I started NaNoWriMo2016, curiosity was the underpinnings of the goal to completing the novel. As the days passed, curiosity waned and gave way to my true passion. 10,000 words into my novel and I stopped writing for NaNoWriMo2016.
10 million+ words would indicate I have a passion for writing – but I don’t.
My passion is fueled by the desire to help others achieve their immediate goals. Scratch that – to inspire others and grow a community where encouragement and enthusiasm abounds. Writing is just the communication channel I choose (or chose me) to convey a message. It’s a means to accomplishing a goal. Sometimes, I forget that, since “me and writing go way back like babies and pacifiers.” (Rest in Love, ODB)
Taking on the writing challenge NaNoWriMo, I learned if I don’t ever write another word my passion will remain. Therefore, attaching the 50,000-word goal to my passion of inspiration and community building would have yielded a better result.
What’s more NaNoWriMo forced me to admit there’s a difference between writers and those who write; the goal of writing and writing to achieve a goal.
For the former, writing is both a tool and passion. For the latter, writing is just one of the tools available for use in one’s passion.
As for the contest, NaNoWriMo organizers did their best to cater to both types. They made it easy to find a writers group so one could write as a community member representing her city. There was even a fundraising component. What I hadn’t realize until today is NaNoWriMo also forces you take inventory of your skills. I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve even written a novel for my daughters to share the importance of “Know thy Self”. But I’m not a writer. I just have a lot of stories to share.
So why did the writer cross the road?
A: To get to the other side. She had a story to tell and there she found someone willing to listen.