Showing Up is Half the Battle
This November, I decided to join the NaNoWriMo. What sounds like a very strange recipe is the abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. It´s an internet based creative writing project, where writers commit to write 50 thousand words between November 1st and 30th. Launched by US based freelancer Chris Baty in 1999, this has become an international pool for writers from all around the globe to push their projects to completion. Making your progress visible and knowing there are many others out there, help to continue according to the motto: Showing up is half the battle.
A good start
I joined the challenge through Julia K. Stein´s “Write that book Club”. Julia is a German author, who created this project to bring together a community for collective writing sessions helping and inspiring each other to pursue our projects. I was highly motivated and had a good start with a joint session on Sunday, November 1st at 7 am. Before breakfast we wrote together for an hour, enjoying the family time later knowing that 1.200 words had already been written.
Keep the flow
Throughout the week I joined several online writing clubs like the “London Writers Salon”, an online community with pre-planned Zoom sessions for joint writing three times a day and also booked a few appointments on “Focusmate”, another web-based platform to find virtual colleagues to avoid the feeling of being alone with your work and procrastinating your tasks.
The idea behind it is very simple: You select a virtual partner for a joint working session. Both partners shortly introduce their projects and mute their microphones for 40 minutes of continuous working. The cameras are still on so you can see, if your partner is working or leaving the desk. A soft bell informs you when the time is over, you unmute your mic and tell each other about the progress of your work.
Working from home can be pleasant and dangerous. We are easily distracted, and often times we can´t bring ourselves to do the work (-> how to increase your productivity). Both factors, having a real face watching us and defining a task to complete for this time slot, motivates us to sit down and do the work.
You are not alone
The charming part of it: it gives you a sense of community, you are not alone. One of my sessions with the London`s Writers Club had 226 participants. I could swipe trough the screen and see all those lovely faces sitting in front of their screens working. Nevertheless, it´s you who needs to do the work.
At the end of week two, I realized a certain fatigue. The words were coming slow, phrases sounded hollow and empty. I had written more than I normally would in two weeks, but taking time apart for writing felt more and more stressful, beside my other projects.
I was ready for a break and started the Saturday morning with a walk in the woods. After breakfast I joint my husband in making the garden ready for winter, collecting old leaves and cutting plants. We even succeeded to bring the greenery to the civic amenity site to finally finish the project.
Take a breath and – Restart
Later this afternoon, I finally continued. I felt fresh, had a few new ideas and decided it´s not time to quit yet. Quitting can be very tempting at times but continuing is the real game. At the end of the day, I saved some time to go through my emails and check out a few newsletters, I had missed out.
As always Steven Pressfields´ Blog provided the right words at the right time. He quoted from Seth’s Godin’s book “The Practice”:
„Success comes when you do the work.
Satisfaction comes when you do the work.
Fulfilment comes when you do the work.
“Practice” in Seth’s definition does not mean what you do in preparation for the Real Game, as in basketball practice or practicing playing the piano.
“The practice” is the game.
The practice is what you and I do every day when we enter our workspace, close the door, and sit down to pursue our dream.“
– From: Steven Pressfield´s Blog: Seth Godin’s “The Practice”, November 11, 2020.
There is only one thing we have to tell ourselves daily: there is nothing to lose but a lot to win! That´s how I motivated myself to restart. At the end of this month, I have hopefully filled the pages with 50.000 new words, which brings my project into a stage of finished draft. I know that this will give me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. It doesn´t need to be easy to achieve, but doable.
Sometimes it´s hard to juggle different projects simultaneously, but clear goals help us to structure our work and eliminate time robber as best as we can. Once we sit in front of our computers or wherever it is, we are most productive, we made a huge leap forward. Remember: Showing up is half the battle.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”