Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slow and steady wins the race

This guy knows what he's doing. (source)

Back in July, I decided that I would participate in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. I had never had much interest in NaNo before, mostly because I didn't think I could or would write 50,000 words in just 30 days. But I had this great story idea and just enough time to plan it before November. So I figured I'd give it a shot. And it's been a great experience -- I've met some really cool people, learned a lot about myself, and hopefully improved my writing skills a bit.

I'd like to share one of the most important life lessons I learned during November: Pace yourself. Slow and steady really is the way to go.

Most people start out a big challenge/adventure with a mix of excitement and apprehension. I went into NaNo with that standard mix, but the excitement definitely outweighed the apprehension. One thing I was nervous about, though, was timing. When you work in retail, November is one of the busiest months, and it gets twice as busy during Thanksgiving weekend. Would I have the time or energy to actually finish what I started, even before the holidays really got underway? As it turns out, I had plenty of time -- and I spent a lot of it watching TV, sleeping, and goofing off.

And I didn't spend a single second if it watching The Walking Dead. Nope, not at all. (source)

So how did I manage to pull together 50,000 words and still find time to keep up with the cast of Teen Mom 2? It was pretty simple, actually. I set realistic goals for myself and put aside time to regenerate.

In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey talks about "sharpening the saw". A logger can spend hours trying to chop down a tree with a dull blade, but he won't get very far. If he takes time to sharpen his saw, however, he'll end up saving time in the long run, because chopping down that tree with a fresh blade won't take nearly as long as hacking away with the dull one.

We're always in such a rush to get things done. Whether it's ringing up a customer at work or finishing a final paper for a class, people have this idea that you have to go at everything with all your strength. Not so. Do a little work, then take a break. You might not want to do what I did and take five hour long breaks to ogle pictures of Josh Hutcherson watch YouTube videos...but hey, whatever works.


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