Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Do You: A NaNo Pep Talk from a Mere Mortal

Note: Today's pep talk is brought to you by my sister, Abby Brooks. 

My plan this November is to write 50,000 words. Just 50,000. A measly 50,000. A Weasley 50,000. What am I doing with my life? I’ll tell you: I’m living. I’m doing my job; I’m hanging with my friends; I’m spending time outside in the fall air and getting my exercise. I’m cleaning my house and making hot meals and OH BY THE WAY I’m writing a novel. This is a pep talk for people like me who cheer loudly when we reach 2,000 words on a given day, because that is really stretching it. This is a pep talk for writers who have a hard time celebrating their own achievements this month when they remember that the overachievers forum exists. Overachievers, Smover achievers, that’s what I say. Sorry, Liz. Please don’t poison my coffee.

It is a constant human temptation to compare ourselves to others. I do it all the time. See, I’m a fairly standard human being, who happens to have a ton of truly extraordinary friends. There’s the children’s book illustrator, the private investigator, the screenwriter and the philosopher. There are spy boys, musicians, poets, and writers. So. Many. Writers. Some days I wonder why I presume to do anything, to pursue anything, when my closest friends, and even my little sister, can do it so much better. 

When I play this comparing game with my circle of extraordinary friends, I lose sight of the fact that I, too, am a little bit extraordinary. I may not play guitar and sing for hundreds of people each week like my office mate, Taylor. But I do play the ukulele. On my porch swing. For the cat. I might not write poetry in my sleep like I once caught Belle doing, but I do write three or four pieces a year that I’m sorta kinda proud of. Same with painting and languages and knitting and running and blowing bubbles in chocolate milk etc., etc.. BUT LISTEN. The point is not that I don’t do each of these things as well as the next person. The point is that I do them. That alone makes me a little bit extraordinary. Do stuff, coffee beans. Each of you are a little bit extraordinary too.

I heard this saying while bumming at my house, watching Netflix: “You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” Ai. Shucks. Ain’t nobody sacrificing no Grey’s Anatomy anytime soon. The way I see it, there are two types of overachievers in the world. The first kind is the most obvious. They drop everything except their coffee mugs and pound their keyboards for a month, and trade their sanity and the sound structure of their wrists for five shiny, new novels which they then edit for forever and then publish and get rich and drive their Lamborghini’s around. These people sacrifice everything else for their one, big dream, and they succeed through sheer, brute force. This is how I suspect my sister’s life will play out. Which is awesome. But I’m not like that. I’m the second type of overachiever. The type who could never pick just one dream. The type who could never sacrifice literature for music or music for fitness or fitness for writing or writing for beauty or…or.... I overachieve not in any particular area, but in the sheer number of areas I stubbornly continue to invest in. 

How is this a Nano pep talk? I can hear you yelling now. I’m saying Do You. Succeed on your own terms. Examine yourself. Set goals. Decided how much you can sacrifice without losing yourself and then by all means, sacrifice it. Don’t do less than your best. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that your best is the same as someone else’s best or that your best in any given area isn’t good enough just because someone did better. Just do you. Give yourself all the credit you deserve, and plenty of grace when you do honestly have to admit that you’re not living up to your potential. Ask yourself: What am I doing with my life? and by all means possible make sure that’s an answer you’re proud of. Maybe that means hitting 25,000 words today. Maybe not.

Here I go: 

It was a dark and stormy night…

Nailed it.

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered this and it's exactly what I needed as I look ahead at the next year. Thank you!!!