Potential and Performance
Last night, I pushed myself to hit 18,000 words for August and reached a personal best of 18,195 words for the month. And when I say pushed, I can’t even say it was that much of a push, more of a nudge really. I had to write just under 1,000 words and found that I was able to write a leisurely 1,157 words.
It was a watershed moment. My writing has been sporadic for years. Earlier this year I decided, really decided, that I was going to give it my all. With almost two dozen short stories sold, I know I can write work that sells, I just needed to put in more effort, create more stories. Sporadic writing wasn’t doing it for me. I knew I had to develop the discipline to be consistent.
The potential has always been there. I’ve been telling stories since I was a kid. I remember writing a haunted house story in early grade school and getting in trouble because I was writing on the side of the page where the teacher was supposed to mark my work. Even the majority of my rejections compliment me on my writing and ask to see more work.
But potential is only that: potential. It’s always a maybe, a what might be, a what’s possible. On its own, without effort, it doesn’t really mean much. He has the potential to be a great doctor doesn’t mean anything if you need someone to set a broken leg. I knew I needed more than just potential if I wanted to live into my dream of being a real writer.
I started on April 6th with a challenge to myself to write 70,000 words by the end of the year. I hit that goal on August 20th! At the beginning of August, I revised my goal up to 100,000 words by the end of the year. I told myself that was it; I wasn’t going to revise the goal again. But now at the beginning of September, I am already at 76,790 words, leaving only a little over 23,000 words left and I’ve still got four months to go in the year! So I have to do it again, I have to raise my goal. Now I’m going to write 120,000 words.
No one is more shocked by this than me. When I started in April, I actually thought I could write 90,000 words but wanted to make the goal doable and not too much pressure and that’s why I chose 70,000. I never dreamed I could write over 18,000 words in one month. It was certainly effort but it was also fun, exhilarating and challenging. With consistent, everyday effort, my potential has morphed into performance. That consistency I was looking for has come in small, steady doses. Some people can write for hours and hours, wracking up thousands of words. For me, I’m better in small chunks, 500 words here, 400 words there. Every day sitting down for half an hour or an hour. Small steps at a time.
With five months of everyday work behind me, I know I’m turning that potential into reality. That future potential is even bigger than before and I’m excited to plunge into it. 120,000 words by December 31, here I come! And next year, who knows?
What potential are you living into?