Back in March, I set out on a mission: For the first time in my life, I wanted to write a novel from beginning to end. I had started two novels before that, approaching them as daunting, monstrous works that could only be completed if I took lengthy sabbaticals in a log cabin in the mountains where I would be served hand and foot by an sultry handmaiden with a penchant for Southern cooking and backrubs.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that never happened. (Although I’m still taking applications for the handmaiden. Must come with log cabin and internet access.)
We all have these daunting life goals that we think we’ll figure out “someday.” Someday you’ll write your novel. Someday you’ll go to Ireland. Someday you’ll hold a penguin like a baby.
As we build up these goals, we actually get further away from realizing them. That is, until we look around and see other people realizing the same dreams all the time.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen writers all around me completing novels. Talented, albeit mostly unpublished authors. In fact, they’ve all written multiple novels over the last few years. They live busy lives, and yet they find the time to write. Nay, they make the time to write. Time isn’t going to find you. You have to grab it by the corset and make it yours. I’m talking about you, Anne, Trisha, and Regan. In terms of the novel writing. Not the corset grabbing.
So I gave myself two months. If you can’t commit to doing something in two months–something that means the world to you–then it probably doesn’t mean the world to you, and it’s probably never going to happen. Give it up and move on to new dreams. (The one exception to this rule is having a baby. Give that 9 months.)
This isn’t meant to be a self-congratulatory post (I already did that on Facebook), but I completed my goal. At 11:15 pm on Saturday night, I got to write “The End” at the end of a 74,226-word novel.
I have to admit, it felt amazing. I was beside myself with joy. There may or may not have been some sing-talking of “Call Me Maybe.”
I have a lot to say about the Two-Month Gauntlet, because I want to inspire people to give it a shot. It will be one of the most gratifying things you ever do. Blog reader Emma took the challenge and started a laughter yoga club, as did another writer friend of mine, so I’m not alone here. It can be done.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean this in a vague, ambiguous, inspirational speaker, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” kind of way. I mean that you should pull out a piece of paper right now and write down five dreams you have, pick one, and start working on it tomorrow. I really mean this. Stop holding yourself back and make one of those dreams happen–not “someday,” but in two friggin’ months. Start out with a small one if you want.
If you read this and have the balls to pick a dream–and if you’re serious about it–send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Or post it in the comments if you’re ready for public accountability. Specifically, tell me your dream and your daily goals to get there. If I have any thoughts, I’ll share them, but most likely you’ll just know that someone else out there is rooting for you. And I’d love to write about your experience on the blog in two months.
What’s next for the novel? Well, I’m sitting on it for a few days, and then I’ll read it for the first time and make any necessary sweeping changes. Then I’ll send it out to a few beta readers to see if it’s any good. If it is, I’ll send it out to a few more beta readers to give it a hard edit. Then I’ll send it out to one more beta reader to really show my manuscript who’s boss. And then we’ll see.
So go ahead and pull out that piece of paper. Write down a few dreams. And then, if you dare, circle one and make it yours.