I’ve embarked on this journey of really trying to commit to my writing practice; both here on the blog and I decided to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this month again. As of Halloween I wasn’t even sure I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo because the blog itself seemed like a lot of work on my plate after the first couple months of the school year between work and personal stuff.
As one of my writing discord servers hopped into action for NaNo, I was inspired by other writers starting their stories and working on their writing projects that I opened a blank document on November 1 and started typing. I had no idea what the story was or where it would go and 13 days into NaNo I’ve written over 10,000 words (not on target to reach 50,000 but that’s ok) and have the beginnings of a story I actually like and think could BE something.
But as I try to wake up at 5am on weekdays and write something I am reminded of the journey and not the destination. As someone who is sitting down to write, I am a writer. I don’t need to publish, I don’t need to make money (although it would be nice if it became a side hustle), and I don’t necessarily need anyone to read what it is because that’s not what makes me a writer. Sharing my work is great but it’s the actual process of writing that is fulfilling — words on a page (or screen in this day and age) is what matters.
Whether that writing comes in the form of this blog, in a journal, or the 5am stream of consciousness story writing that is currently happening for Nano — all those things inherently make me a writer. Maybe I’m not a very good one or maybe I am? However neither of those things matter when it comes to getting the enjoyment and fulfillment out of the practice. I have realized that this journey is more about the actual journey than the end goal.
The end goal will happen and will be whatever it’s meant to be but at the end of the day it’s the sitting down and WRITING that’s the important part for my sanity, mental health, and creative need.
Now it’s not to say that having a goal in mind is a terrible idea or we shouldn’t have goals but by enjoying the process and setting process or journey related goals instead of itemized end goals it is easier to work the process since those goals become part of your identity and not some arbitrary accomplishment.
Consider the two statements:
- I will write for at least 15 minutes a day each morning.
- I will make $XX publishing a story in 6 months (or whatever realistic time frame).
They are both SMART (Specific, Measurable, theoretically Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals but the first one relies solely on me doing the thing whereas the second one relies on other conditions to create an outcome. While I could work on all the other things that might turn this project into a side hustle, is that what I really want? And is that what I’m really doing this for?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for my hobby to magically start making me extra cash, who doesn’t want extra money in their bank account right? And maybe someday it will but the writing is what makes me happy. I’d love for people to read what I write and take meaning from it but at the end of the day, especially in this blog, it really is all about me and the experiences that I can share. Hopefully there are others out there who find value in what I’m relating to the world but ultimately, I am doing this for me, from the heart, to enjoy myself.
Focusing on walking the path and not the end of the road means I take small steps every day on that path. Getting up at 5am isn’t easy, especially now that the time changed here on the Eastern Seaboard and it’s just always dark but getting up with the expectation that I’m going to start my day doing something I enjoy and start the day with a full cup, nourishes me in a way that wouldn’t happen if I was just focused on the end goal.
By trusting the process and doing what I enjoy, no matter what happens at the end of the road, I’ve done something for me and something that refills my own energies to be a better woman, wife, mom, teacher, person, etc.
Damn the idea that the “end justifies the means” it’s the means that will ultimately create the end. If I’m happy and don’t enjoy the means than the end doesn’t really matter in the long run because that’s not what I’m shooting for. I want to be a writer in my spare time so that means I need to write.
If I am authentic in my journey, it doesn’t matter who comes along for the ride and who doesn’t; because ultimately the writer isn’t made by the audience: the writer is made by the writing.
As I work on giving up control over the outcome and just focus on the process, I find more fulfillment and enjoyment than I would have guessed. Habit and process oriented SMART goals seem to be more effective and sustainable than outcome-based goals. And the funny part is, as I work through habit or goals based on the journey the outcome seems to follow. I guess this is what “build it and they will come” was all about.