In 2012, I wrote about failing at NaNoWriMo and, at that time, I resigned myself to the fact that it cannot be done with my schedule. I also compared it to running a marathon without training, or running a 5K after an eight hour work day with two hours of commuting. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s an annual “contest” where authors attempt to write a complete novel in one month. Winners receive the satisfaction of completing a novel and can begin the editing and rewriting process. I realize now that I squandered a lot of time when I might have been able to squeeze a few words in here or there. I may have been intimidated by the thought of trying to write a novel (about 50,000 words) in thirty days or maybe I was afraid that I would fail again.
Several months after that post, I decided to start living better. Better diet and more exercise. I started walking, then running. A 5K, just a little more than three miles, might as well been a marathon for me. The very idea running a 5K seemed impossible at the time. Two years later, I now regularly run a 5K for my workouts and my longer runs have taken me to seven miles.
Recently, I set another seemingly impossible goal to run 100 miles in one month. And because I usually don’t think things through, I planned to do this in the month of August – the hottest and driest month of the Texas summer. After braving humid mornings, blazing hot afternoons and monster mosquitoes in the late evenings, I met my goal on the last day of the month. I only missed a few days of running and I was still able to complete the challenge.
The challenge taught me a few important things about life. I learned how to persevere, to prioritize and how to believe in myself. One of the more important lessons was that in order to achieve something, you first have to believe it can be done and then believe in yourself to do it. I also learned that if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it. Another important lesson, maybe the hardest for me, was to realize that I don’t have to do it all today. I can always pick up where I left off the next day. And if the next day doesn’t come…well, I think I’ll have my mind on more important matters.
Completing this challenge has changed the way I think about the NaNoWriMo contest. If I can, after many years of avoiding walking where I could, run the approximate equivalent of four marathons, in the hottest month of the year, then trying to write 1,666.67 words per day, for thirty days, now seems doable, right? We’ll see…