Once upon a time, there lived a woman who attempted a particular quest every year. A quest to write fifty thousand words during the month of November. Many times she tried, but she always managed to come up short by the thirtieth day. This made her sad and angry. Sad because others managed to do it and she had failed. Angry because she felt she must have been born missing something, a spark of talent that makes a person achieve.
This year’s attempt at the quest began like the others. Her first day’s writing was a quick rundown of her shortcomings and how hard the goal was. By the end of the first week, she found herself far behind on the target word count.
However, this year she had done something a little different from previous ones. For a couple of months before the contest, she had been doing timed writings with prompts. Incorporating certain words or story scenarios, she attempted to write two thousand words a day. She often fell short but kept trying. And she discovered that the more she wrote without caring about how good the first draft was or searching for the perfect bon mot, the quicker her ideas began to flow. Writers block was becoming a memory. Practice didn’t make perfect, but the perfectionistic streak that always held her back started to dissipate and made it easier to write. Writing no longer felt like a chore.
And, lo and behold, the fifty thousand word dragon was slain on Day 29. And it was done without the usual panic she went through every previous November.
I plan to celebrate my achievement by purchasing a winner’s tee shirt. But the real prize is the reminder to me about something we were all taught in childhood. To succeed, we must practice. Very few people are naturally gifted at anything. There are those who have the right body shape for a particular sport or a facility for languages or a good ear for sounding out a tune. But it is the practice that makes someone a master. Or, in my case, a dragon slayer.