P.S. I found this lovely photo on the web by Uwe Hermann. (I hope that by providing a link to his website and by giving the photographer proper credit, I can use this image legally on my blog.)
Well, I’m proud to say, I’ve let myself off the hook. I’ve realized my limits and have given myself permission to fail promptly and with dignity.
Let me explain. I have this instinctual desire to always be plugging away at some worthy goal. Since my condensed college classes were finished in mid-October, I’ve been scheming of ways to fill the void over the next three months. (As if attending to normal household responsibilities, five very active children, and the crush of the holidays isn’t enough.)
Ah ha! I’ll do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, I thought. In theory, it sounded fabulous—write almost 1,700 words a day each day in November and end up with a 50,000 word novel on day 30. I bought and read Chris Baty’s rollicking No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, signed up on the NaNoWriMo website, and was prepared to surrender my inner critic—all for the glory of saying I had entered the ranks of noveldom (along with 90,000 other hopefuls.)
Two weeks before kick off day, November 1st, numerous ideas for plots and characters filled my waking and dreaming hours. And then the day of the launch was finally here. I woke early, sat down at my computer, and started to write. Throughout the day, I kept typing and checking my word count constantly. By dinner time, I had written only 1,200 words and was mentally at my wits’ end. At that moment, having to write 500 more words felt like a death sentence (and rather like the torture of having to drink 64 ounces of water the hour before an ultrasound!)
As I reread what I had written, I began to notice that what was going on with the main character in my story mirrored what was going on with me internally. My protagonist had started out at the beginning of the story on a joyous, expectant journey and she was now in a dangerous predicament. Terrified, she was currently running away and trying to hide from an evil antagonist.
Whoa! This sounded like a big cue from my psyche! Maybe I’m not quite ready for this experience, I reasoned. Why am I putting myself under such pressure to do this right now? I thought about my upcoming trip to Cancun with my husband. Did I really want to be focused on and stressed over writing a novel when I should be relaxing with and rediscovering my husband in a rare get-away to a tropical paradise? Did I really want to end up hating the act of writing by the end of the month?
Sometimes I have to protect myself from my own overreaching and just say “no!”