For the past ten weeks, I’ve been on a writing quest, a grand creative adventure. I needed to write an 85,000-word book and have it done by the end of November. I’m pleased to report that I made it. This stands as one of my most significant accomplishments as a writer (so far).
Although writing 85,000 words in two and a half months pales next to all the novelists who just finished NaNoWriMo, where they wrote 50,000 words in one month, I want to point out one difference. For NaNoWriMo the goal is to produce the first draft; editing and polishing come later. In my case I needed to have the finished version, one carefully edited and smoothly polished. I am pleased with the results.
As I considered this project back in September, I had two conflicting realizations: If I committed to this opportunity, I would surely wish I hadn’t, but if I passed on it, I would surely regret it. In the end, I said “yes,” prompted by a nudge that said, “you’ve been preparing for this; you are ready for this challenge.”
I blocked out half my day during the week to work on this project, leaving the rest of the day to do everything else. Starting around 5:30 a.m. and writing to about noon, with periodic breaks to eat, exercise, and shower, I logged about 30 hours a week on the project. I’m glad for what I accomplished, and I’m glad I’m done.
But until I actually did this, I had no idea that I could; I didn’t know what I was capable of accomplishing. So it is with all writers.
Though your writing goals may be bigger than mine or smaller, I encourage you to set a goal that will stretch you, one that will push you harder and cause you to reach for more. It can be anything, and it doesn’t need to be big. It just needs to challenge you in the place you’re at as a writer and move you to the next level.
As writers, we can all do more than we think we can. Let’s reach for it.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.