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November 23, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about milestones.

I suppose for anyone with friends who are writers, this is nothing uncommon. Especially in November. Every time I pull up FaceBook I see dozens of friends trumpeting, or lamenting, the outcome of their day all based on that day relation to the magic number of 1,667. If they wrote 1,700 words it was good day. 1,500…not so good. And even if the day didn’t measure up, things are still good if they’re ahead for the month.

Most of us break up our days, weeks, years….lives…with milestones. They give us small things to accomplish on the way to bigger things.

Of late, my mind has been occupied with different milestones. A few weeks back the bicycle I was riding was hit by a car, and I hit the road hard. I was injured, seriously, but not severely. I was lucky—I was able to walk away…well, limp away. But I’ve been stuck in physical therapy nearly every morning since. My milestones have been more concrete…hold this weight longer than yesterday…lift more than yesterday…do more reps than yesterday…walk farther than yesterday. But even though it’s important, it’s just not very satisfying.

There’s a definite sense of accomplishment for the NaNo participants to make it to 1,667…or even better, to 50,000. If I learned nothing else from my previous stints with NaNo, it’s to appreciate, even revel in, these accomplishments.

Writing, like life, love and health, are long term goals. And if we don’t set goals, it’s easy to think we’re not getting anywhere. If we start writing, with end goal of seeing our name in print, and no milestones along the way, we run the very real risk of getting bogged down in the sense that we’re getting nowhere. And it’s important that we let ourselves feel a sense of accomplishment at each milestone, no matter how routine it may seem at the time.

To all you NaNoers reading this, it’s almost over. But you can do it.

  1. November 23, 2010 4:44 am

    I so agree with you on this. I took part in the NaNoWriMo this year for the first time even though I knew I had little chance of actually completing the 50,000 words. I have managed to complete an initial scribbling of just over 10,000 words and the beauty of that is that I am motivated to continue and complete what I intend will be my first published novel.

    Your article title “Milestones” is the perfect symbol for a writers journey. I know I need a lot more of them in my writing life.

  2. November 23, 2010 5:47 am

    I hope the recovery is going well for you, Dale. NaNo is a very minor thing in comparison.

    Of course, you could combine the two, and narrate your PT into a recorder: “Muscles screaming, he held the weight level, gripping it as it shook like a thing alive, some iron and plastic beast fighting for freedom, a beast that he would subdue with will and the force of his own pain.”

  3. November 30, 2010 8:00 pm

    Is the mile 42 random or have anything to do with hitchhikers?

    Either way, milestones keep me anchored to the earth. Without them it is a bit like being underwater unsure of which way is up or down. Or maybe like that time of day when you wake up from an ill-advised nap and can’t tell if it is morning or night. I love the word count of NaNo. It frees me up to write what I want–I mean, a mile marker just means I’m on the road and can take whatever exit I please.

    Enough with the metaphors and similes. Get well from your accident. And I am looking forward to the new write anything.

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