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Celebrate the Journey as well as the Prize

Today is the last day to make the 50K word count for National Novel Writers’ Month. It’s been a fun, challenging experience. The results of this month’s challenge, whether you made the word count or not, are a success. I’ve learned not to measure my success based on a specific result; instead, I look at the journey that occurred between the decision to begin and the ending point. Did I learn something? Am I a better person because of the experience? Did I conquer a fear? What did I gain or loose?

I did make my NaNoWriMo word count, but that’s not the success that I am celebrating. The NaNoWriMo challenge and word count was a catalyst for me to accomplish something that I convinced myself that I couldn’t do. In preparation for the challenge, I studied, read books, and interacted with others embarking on the challenge. I’ve been an accomplished, established, and succesful technical writer for over 15 years, yet my dream has always been to write a novel. For years I’ve started dozens of novels and never finished them. I’ve berated and browbeat myself until I decided that maybe I was not meant to write novels.

During my journey to situate myself for the impending month of November when I would attempt to write 50K words in 30 days, my preliminary preparation uncovered impractical processes, lack of discipline, lack of consistency, and other unproductive habits that I recorded in my writing blog. The process of the NaNoWrMo challenge helped me to learn and adopt processes that work, discipline that produces, and consistency to finish. I had trouble completing previous novels because I was attempting to write a perfect first draft. Because my attention span is short, I need to write in my novel daily to get the idea out in a first draft ASAP. These lessons are invaluable, and even had I not completed the word count, I’d still feel successful because I’ve learned the basics of what I need to move forward with writing novels. They are lessons that I can build on it. Now I can put away those books about how to finish a novel and concentrate on rewriting, structure, and other mechanics of writing a good novel.

Sometimes we don’t reach our intended goals, but we should not judge ourselves or accomplishments based on if we make it to the finish line or not. The journey and the process are to our intended goals are invaluable, yet often overlooked. There are times when we must recognize that what we learn as a result of the journey is the prize and making it to the finish line is an added bonus.

Image Credit: Mike Waters from www.joyfultoons.com

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