“This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True”

I’m invested in National Novel Writing Month for what I think is the seventh time. I’m not doing as good as I should. I think I have just over 9,000 words written. I can blame it on having a more challenging book this time, one that calls for me to research every time I turn around. Or it could be that I came down with my wife’s cold, or the fact that I have a day job and a challenging responsibility at my church.

But the real reality is that I’m not worried about the numbers. Not really. I joined NaNoWriMo this year as an incentive to get going on my next book. If you’re counting, it will be my 24th, but at a certain point it doesn’t really matter anymore. Some of them were hits, some of them misses.

What really matters is that I am putting words on paper again. That’s the bottom line. And that’s really what being a writer is all about. Discipline. It goes beyond any talent you have, any training you develop, any tricks you come up with. It’s simply applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

And the harsh reality is that you can call yourself a writer and get away with not writing a word for quite a while. You can ride on the laurels of your past successes. I know: I’ve done it. I have people stop me and talk about how much they enjoy “my book” (I usually don’t stop to ask them which book they’re referring to). And I could probably just stop and say I’m retired and let my past successes stand on their own.

But then I wouldn’t be faithful to how I see myself. I see myself as a writer, and a writer puts words on paper. I may not write every day, but I do try to put out at least a book a year. And that keeps me busy enough, I guess. You will find as a writer that it’s easy to slack off, and there will come days when you make all kinds of excuses why you can’t write. But the bottom line is, who are you making those excuses to? Who are you accountable to? Only yourself. Nobody cares if you write that next story but you. Only you.

To thine own self be true.

Do or do not. There is no try.