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50K Words is Too Far to Go Alone

The last day I was at or above par for the NaNoWriMo word count was November 3. That is, until this past Sunday. As I went to bed on Sunday, I was 99 words above par. Last night I went to bed over 600 words above par. Given that Friday, after getting less than 500 words on Thanksgiving, a holiday, I was ready to give up, that is amazing.

How did I do it? I did it with friends. My wife encouraged me. My writing tribe on Facebook inspired me. My girl encouraged me and made me a NaNo advent box with bags to open each day I made word count. They have either made time for me, had a running sprint thread going in messenger, or told me writing was important and to go do it.

Often we set out to achieve goals like NaNo or an IronMan triathlon or a Ph.D. and think we have to do it all. The truth is we have to do all the work, but we don’t have to do all the things. There are things like encouragement, confidence, and drive that sometimes we can’t do because all our energy is in the word count or the wind sprint or the literature review.

For those times we have friends to do those other things for us. If we are fortunate, we have them.

I can’t imagine NaNo without friends.

I am far from the first person to realize this. One of the best examples is a video from Chris Bintliff series, Becoming Ironman. In his series of race day videos, there is Part 3: The Team and a corresponding blog post. I stole the subtitle of the video, “because 140.6 miles is too far to go alone” for the title of my post.

Share what you are doing with people. Not on a blog or Facebook or Instagram, although you can share them there. Share them with a guy at the office or your friend at the gym. Share them with people who see you every day and will ask about progress and, when you say you are ready to give up, will tell you just get today’s part done.

Because the 50,000th word or the finish line or the dissertation defense are not The Moment of Truth.

They are moments of truth, but only one of many. When you sit down to do at least the daily 1667 words, even though you’re already 2,000 words behind and all 1667 will do is keep you from getting further behind is a moment of truth. Getting up early for a swim is a moment of truth. Transcribing and coding one more interview is a moment of truth.

So is accepting your friend’s offer to transcribe that last interview for you. You get credit for taking the help.

Be afraid, but don’t let your fears stop you from doing. Not just your fear of failure or your fear of not being good enough. Don’t let your fear of accepting help stop you either.

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