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Doubt can be a beast. It’s a five letter word that has a way of brainwashing you to the point of paralyzation, causing you to be unproductive and ultimately disheartened.  It can strike anyone, including those who appear to be super confident. Now that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month/NaNo for short) is literally only hours away, I feel doubt lurking around me like never before.

Since I have yet to complete NaNo’s 50,000 word challenge I have had some serious thought about not trying it again this year. It’s easy to come to that conclusion when that small voice of doubt is around to whisper,”Why put in all this work just to end up disappointed again?”  or “When will I find the time to get 50,000 words down?”

But it’s times like these when I’m thankful for my writer friends that are around to lift me up. Just yesterday I received two powerful messages to restore my faith. One was from a friend who posted a speech on Facebook that was made by the award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay. In her speech she talked about not appearing desperate, and not wasting valuable time by seeking the approval and/or help of others. If you feel you have a story to tell then use your energy to tell it. The message is not just for filmmakers, but all creatives with a vision. You can read what she said and watch the video for yourself by clicking here.

The other message was from a friend who also posted something on Facebook, this time directly in my inbox. When I opened the message there was a link for me to click on along with a brief note that included the sentence, “You and I really have no excuses, do we?” The link was to a New York Times story about the legendary playwright/poet Ntozake Shange, creator of the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. The article, A Poet With Words Trapped Inside, profiled Shange and her latest accomplishments, and  highlighted a neurological disorder called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a medical condition that has taken control of Shange’s hands and feet, leaving her unable to type or write without difficulty. The beauty of the situation is that despite her physical challenges she is still creating.

Both messages were right on time for me: “Just tell a story” and “Stop making excuses.”

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We are so conditioned to looking at the bad side of things that the phrase “What’s the worse thing that can happen?” has become common place. Not long ago I saw a blog post that asked a similar question, but with a more positive slant –  “What’s the best thing that can happen?” Since then the words have lingered in my mind so much so that I’ve decided to make the phrase my own personal mantra, which brings me back to NaNo.

So what if I don’t complete the 50,000 word NaNo challenge. The best thing that can happen is that I’m closer than I have ever been to getting this manuscript, that I have only dreamed about, completed and turned into an actual book. That’s not a bad consequence when you think about it that way. I guess this means that I’ll be staying up late and getting up even earlier, along with the rest of you NaNo heads, for the next month in order to reach my goal.

When doubt manages to creep it’s ugly little head in my mind again,  I just have to remember to ask myself over and over again, “What’s the best thing that can happen?”

Feel free to use that. 🙂

Until Next time…

Marti

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