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NaNoWriMo: The Only Race Where You Get To Sit Down

It’s true: I’ve decided, on top of everything else going on in my life, to take the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) plunge.

Deciding to do this wasn’t easy. I’m currently working full-time, going to grad school online, and wrestling with the ongoing saga of being a tired, anxious person who can’t totally climb out of my own head. Realistically, this is the worst time in my life to do NaNo–to pledge to write 50,000 words of a novel in just a month.

But on the other hand, it was also a bad time to start a regularly updated blog. The past few months, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from life is the fantastic results of just getting things done. I’d always thought I’d never be able to regularly update a blog, since I felt I had nothing to say, but when I had the idea for my Revisiting Corus series, and simply…started reading, and working, I was surprised at my own ability to keep to my schedule. The same thing happened when I recently quit drinking all forms of caffeine; I had always lived for the next can of Coke Zero, so I never thought I’d be able to do it and yet…here we are.

As someone with ADD, I think, more than most, my conception of myself as someone who can’t do things right has gotten in my own way. Those of us with learning disabilities are often keenly, painfully aware of our differences, of how often we fail in comparison to others, so that it can be hard to perceive our own strengths.  I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve never pushed myself to write regularly, to develop my talents. I’ve always dabbled, here and there, and assumed that one day, inspiration would sweep my legs out from under me, and I’d catch the novel-writing fever.

But that’s not how it works; even the best creative jobs in the world involve some drudgery, and if you don’t have the structure in place to get things done, you’ll find yourself stumbling over the boring parts, the hard parts. If you’re someone like me, with embarassingly low standards for yourself, you’ll quit, saying, “I don’t even know why I tried.” Living up to your own expectations to fail is very, very easy.

What I’ve learned, just as I’m about to turn 26(!), is the value of one foot being put in front of the other. In order to reach a goal, you can’t dream about it, or sigh over it, as you glimpse it on the far horizon. You have to start walking. You have to put in each and every step of the work, over and over, again, and again, and again, before it even comes close enough to reach. Getting something done involves getting it done, and getting out of your own way. Each time I’ve made progress, I’ve stepped forward, it’s because I ignored the nagging voice in my head and said,

Okay. What do I want?

What’s the first step to getting it?

I can do that during my lunch break, easy-peasy! Let’s do it.

And so it repeats, for every step. Not thinking about whether I can reach the goal instantly, via some sort of godly writing power that I don’t have, but thinking about how to step, how to walk, towards my dreams. And you know what? I think I’m starting to get somewhere.

Become my NaNoWriMo buddy–find me under Page Deep! And if you’d like to talk about dreams/goals/visions for writing, come at me in the comments or on Twitter.

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