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Chaos reigns when the editor is locked away with the inner critic. Without their judgmental direction words are free to fly, and stories meander in unexpected directions.

My participation in NaNoWriMo is complete. I reached 50,000 words in a single month…  ’tis done! Dance, celebrate, unlock the dungeon and set the editor free!

(um, Or not. Did you hear that scream? That was my inner critic peering over my editor’s shoulder this morning at the horrific phrasing and chaotic story line.)

Truth be told, I do not have a finished product.  I validated my word count at 50,237 early this morning, but I suspect I will cut about 20,000 of those words and add another 30 or 40k before it is a real thing.  But that is all in the editing process. For now, I revel in the satisfaction of reaching that number goal before the end of November. It may be chaotic, but getting those 50,000 words together in a single project is pretty huge for me. It means that I stuck with it. I didn’t quit, didn’t give up.  Initially a fun ‘what-the-heck’ challenge, NaNoWriMo turned out to be a valuable exercise in discipline and focus.

This is what I know:  If you begin (anything), stuff happens.  Really.

I had a goal: write 50,000 words in a single project. The words, I can do. The focus on a single project, more challenging. Me? Write a novel? Fiction? Ha. I write non-fiction. Short pieces: 500, 1000 word essays. Blog posts, business copy, short articles.  I’d never tried my hand at a creative fiction project, and had no idea what to expect.

I knew that I would have to be consistent if I was going to reach this goal. I was aiming for 2000 words a day.  But argh, what to do when I don’t feel like working on this project (she whines)?  What to do when I have nothing to say? When there are no words?  When all the words are dull?  Sit down and write anyway. Put the whine into words.

Write now. But what? Anything. But my words have gone missing. Has anyone seen them?   Flier on a telephone pole… Missing: Quality Words. Last seen dancing chaotically on a mac pro keyboard. They may be wearing red. If you have seen them, please call…

And off I’d go ~ writing silly bits of nonsense that eventually (and hopefully) would lead to something with more substance. Writing something, anything, is enough to open a door, to make stuff happen.

But isn’t that a consistent lesson of life?  When you are stuck, when you don’t know what to do or where to go, take a step. Do something, do anything. It really doesn’t matter what. Just take a step and see where it leads. Maybe there is something up around that bend that you just can’t see until you get there.

Sometimes, granted, the step to take is to sit in stillness. Sometimes waiting is a necessary action. Other times, a step (or mis-step?) might lead us to more confusion.  It’s all ok, it is all experience. Chaos is necessary when change is in order. Do something, and life happens.

So here’s a toast to all the people crazy enough to be part of NaNoWriMo, whether you reach the full word count or not. I call you a winner because you were brave enough to participate. And a toast to all people everywhere who are crazy enough and brave enough to step up, every day, and participate fully in their life.  If that is you, know this: you are already a winner.

A winner is someone who takes a step ~ now, and again now. Day by day, step by step, breath by breath. A winner participates in life. Sure, participation looks different for everyone. Only you know what it means for you. What I know is this:

Now is the moment that we live. This life is the project we get to play with.

The inner critic and the editor have valuable contributions. They are to be appreciated for their usefulness. Sometimes, though, it is good to lock them down in the dungeon and let the creative muse out to play. Let your life story meander in a whole new direction. Do something out of the box, or use the box in a new way, and set your spirit free to fly.

Chris Baty from the NaNoWRiMo project included these words in a motivational email: “our time on Earth is too short to let our impractical dreams go unexplored.”

Yup, I do agree.  (nods head vigorously)
So… what’s your story? Do you dare to explore impractical dreams?