Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Challenge yourself!

I was just reading a friend's blog about how she talked herself out of taking the easy way out of something and pushed herself, feeling great after what she accomplished. I know that I often do something, whether it's eating unhealthy, skipping exercise, sitting in front of the TV, or something else because it's "easy" or "simple" or "comfortable." However, when I push myself past those normal routines and comfort levels to achieve a goal, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride when all is said and done.

This month, I wrote a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days. I did it for the first time back in 2008 and felt great. That was the first novel I'd ever written, even though I've considered myself a writer at heart (if not in practice) for a long time and have found passion in writing. What I wrote in 2008 didn't really matter to me. It was just about the process. I started and finished something, ignoring my inner editor that often thwarts my progression. But the story itself was crap. I didn't have any real idea of what I wanted to happen in the story, and I just wrote by the seat of my pants until it was done. The process was still rewarding, but for my next challenge I wanted to push myself again past my known limits.

Last year, I tried to participate but didn't get anywhere near that 50,000 word mark. I was participating as a "rebel", writing non-fiction stories about my life. While I'd still like to complete this task, since it wasn't actually writing a novel, I didn't get into the whole spirit of the month of writing as much as I had the previous year. So when I started running low on stories and realized that I would have to embellish or rack my brain for more stories to tell on my theme to get to the 50,000 word mark, I basically quit.

Determined to give myself another growth opportunity this year, I finally sat down and thought through some basics of a story idea that had been floating around in my head since about the time I finished that first novel. This was a story I wanted to write while maintaining the integrity of my idea, as it is a story I wanted to TELL to be READ and ENJOYED. So I started out with some basics and a lot of questions. The writing process was extremely difficult at times (and as I've only written a very rough first draft so far, I know there's a lot more difficulty ahead). In fact, as I neared the end of the story late last night, I was sitting at my computer and thinking, "How do I want this to end?" It's a question I'm still asking myself, as I'm not anywhere near satisfied with how it has ended for now. But I know that I will be working more on this novel down the road.

I am so grateful that despite challenges I faced this month, I set a goal for myself and accomplished it! I feel that this has been a real learning experience for me about myself, and while writing was at times painful because of the difficulties, I feel stronger and more confident (and even a little bit of pride) as a result of my accomplishment.

I encourage you to take one of your passions and set a goal relating to it that requires some sacrifice, pain, challenge, etc. Don't talk yourself out of reaching for that goal. Don't worry if you don't quite reach it the first time either. Just keep trying! It will be worth it in the end!

My favorite quote on the subject is: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." -Les Brown

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