The Only Way Out Is Through

Since it's the last Tuesday of November, that means we're going to talk about NaNoWriMo and how far behind I am. 

Here's a screenshot of my progress: 

This is what the graph of a busy procrastinator looks like.
I think my favorite part of the month is the four days that just go straight across the top with zero progress, not coincidentally overlapping my monthly work deadline of November 20th. Also, I took this screen shot after writing over 5,000 words today, making the graph only slightly less bleak than it was mere hours ago. 

So I should feel stressed. Yesterday I was stressed, and also super bummed because I really love NaNoWriMo, for so many reasons. 

I love that an entire virtual community comes together every year to finally attempt the dream of writing a novel. Many are successful, many not, but all of them are thousands of words closer to that goal than they were on October 31st, and many of those for the first time ever. 

And I love the camaraderie, the feeling of everyone finally chucking the perfectionism we all heap on ourselves and focusing instead on tapping in to whatever stream of consciousness inspirational mecca is out there, the thing that you can't mistake for anything but divinity when it hits you and grabs you by the lapels and pulls you wherever it wants you to go. There is a fabulous TED talk on this concept of elusive genius, by the way.

I love boycotting the constant self-editing, both literal and figurative, that populates my life and so many other people's lives, writers or no, and instead just focusing on words on page. Pen to paper. (Okay, fingers to keyboard. You know what I mean.) Even if it's just for 30 days.

Because there are so many reasons not to follow through on your plans.

photo credit

Many of them valid. 

But the thing is, even if I don't get there-- even if I don't reach my 50,000 words-- as of this moment, I have put 29,816 words toward my own goals this month. That's nearly 30,000 words slammed out toward a future of my own making, without killing myself or staying up till midnight like I did last year (yet). And that feels amazing, whether or not I make it to 50,000. 

At the same time, I haven't had to sacrifice a huge amount of family time, and I managed to please my notoriously picky client-- who was so happy with my work this month he actually sent me an email thanking me, a huge turnaround from last month

Oh, and this nearly 30,000 words is of course in addition to the 65,663 words I wrote for work in November. So far. Not including lengthy emails or edits or rewrites. 

My 10 minute plan is working, my back is still unhappy but not impossible to work around, and I feel like I'm through the crunch. I feel like I won. I really do. Even with 20,000 words ahead of me over the next-- oh my god, only four freaking days, I have to finish this blog IMMEDIATELY and get back to work. 

Arrgh, no. I can't leave without a conclusion. DAMMIT.

Okay, so here it is. 

Sometimes the only way out is through. And the interim is impossible and murky and ridiculous in every respect. But then once you're out the other side, inevitably you look back at all the thorny, brambly nonsense and think "Huh, that wasn't so bad. I don't know why I was such a baby about this back on the other side." 

It's not because you were wrong about it being hard and sticky and scary. You were totally right. It was all of those things. But on the way through, you change. You grow. And by the time you reach the other side, you're someone who is less scared. Who is more capable. Because you know now that things that seemed impossible from one end are, in fact, possible. You know this because you just did it. And then you start to wonder what other things are possible that you always thought were impossible. 

And if anyone would know, it's Muhammad Ali.

And then life gets real amazing, real quick. Just as soon as you push through to the other side.


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