Small Steps Forward: NaNoWriMo and Perspective

Image Courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

After a few weeks of debating, of hemming and hawing, of going from being excited about a plot idea to wondering why I even think I can write at all, I did it. I logged into my account at, created in 2013 when I had more time and the need for a therapeutic brain dump of a writing assignment, and I committed. I’m in. I’m doing it. I’m signing up to write a novel (or rather, the very rough, 50,000-word, rough draft of a novel) in the month of November.

I should clarify, for those who might find me crazy (including myself): my commitment, to myself and to Jonathan and to Katie, is to take writing fiction seriously, to give it time and attention and priority without letting it consume my life, without failing to be present, here, now, today for my family and for myself.

To be honest, I don’t know that it’s possible for me, in this place and time, to write 1667 words per day, especially since the online course I’m taking runs nearly to the end of the November. I don’t know that it’s possible without sacrificing things I am unwilling to sacrifice, and yet I’ve felt a tug to try, a desire to see what I can do, and so I finally decided to go for it.

The turning point in this indecisive brain of mine came yesterday, after reading a private message from a friend I’ve made through my writing class. She said she sees NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to focus on her writing, not necessarily to come away with a full manuscript. Whether she officially “wins” or not, whether she writes fifty thousand words or ten thousand, she’ll have written more at the end of the month than if she’d never tried at all, and that’s a win in her book.

It’s so obvious, isn’t it? The recognition that some attempt is better than none, that we should continue working toward our dreams and goals, even if we only have the time and ability to take a few small steps at a time, even if we can’t take the great, leaping strides forward that others do? How often do I fail to even try, for fear that I won’t make it as far as I would hope? How often do I let my need for completion, my perfectionist tendencies, and my refusal to try things unless I am certain of the outcome get in the way of pursuing worthwhile activities?

Far too often.

So I’m doing it. I’m in. I’m devoting November to writing fiction (though I will do my best not to disappear from blogging as I do). Whether I have 50,000 or 5,000 words at the end of it, at least I will have written.

How about you? What small steps forward are you taking these days?

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