11.30.2011

#NaNoProgMo: Stop talking and do it

Recently my husband was talking with a friend about a direction he wants to take, and the friend said, "If you wanted to do it, you'd be doing it. You wouldn't be talking about it."

This has stuck with me. I might not be properly transcribing the words and tone intended, but this is how it's reverberated in my brain. Applied toward other people, it might come off as a bit harsh, but applied to myself: It's so, so true.

For years, I said, I want to write a novel…someday. When the stars aligned. When I had oodles of free time. When an editor called out of the blue and gave me a contract and an advance, work unseen.

I talked about writing a novel. I wrote plot notes. I brainstormed character names and traits with friends. I subscribed to Writer's Digest
for years and absorbed all the articles. I checked Writer's Market out of the library, repeatedly. I even took a leisurely nine months while Sam concentrated on earning money to try my hand at being a professional novel writer. I did not complete a novel in that time, not even a first draft.

One year, I heard about National Novel Writing Month from a friend's Facebook status update. It was already several days into November, but I was intrigued. Could I do it? I'd give it a shot.

I was cautious about sharing what I was doing. I told people, but not too much. I was afraid to jinx it.

In some ways, this was the worst time to try, finally, to write a novel. I had a young baby and a home business I was heavily involved in and a blog to keep up.

But I wrote that novel, my first to be completed. I stopped talking, and I did it.

In some ways, I feel guilty that I haven't written much about my NaNoProgMo-ing as I've gone through it. In other ways, it feels completely natural now to hold off on bragging about progress until I'm sure I'll make good on my promise. I'm 2 hours from the end of my goal on this last day, so barring major malfunctions (pray not), I'm confident I'll complete my 60-hour editing goal for November. It wasn't glamorous, but every day I sat at my computer, and I did it. I put in my time, and I made progress.

I'm still not done with either project (I'm waiting on a second read-through from Sam of my mystery novel, which incidentally is that first NaNoWriMo one), and I have lots to do still as editor of the NPN cloth diapering book. But I'm feeling more confident that I can continue to do instead of just promise to do.

So, wherever you are in your progress today, I encourage you to figure out what you want — what you really, really want, right now — and do it. One foot in front of the other, in as little or as much time as you can commit, make tangible progress toward your goal. It might be writing a novel. It might be querying magazines, or ramping up your blog. It might be unrelated to writing: pursuing a new relationship, or calling your parents more, or cleaning out the garage, or learning to run.

If you're not making progress but you're still talking about it, you probably don't really want to do it after all. And that's OK, too. Maybe you'll want to later. Maybe you'll realize you never really wanted to and will choose a new dream.

But if you do cling to that dream, stop talking. Start doing. I believe in you.

You have this last day to make progress for NaNoProgMo.
Seize it and all that jazz.
How's your prog? What have you learned about what you want?
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