Some weeks ago, I mentioned that I had signed up for this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an annual thirty-day writing marathon. National is a misnomer here because, while it was launched in San Francisco in 1999 with just 21 participants, it had grown by 2012 to 341,375 participants in cities from Kuala Lumpur to Cape Town.
So should I feel relief that today’s Motivational Monday post may be needed by more than just me?
Having crossed the 10,000 word threshold just last night, I had to face the cold hard facts of the NaNoWriMo statistics page: I am lagging behind. So, drowning my misery in yet another cup of coffee as I stared at the computer screen, I started the moaning and groaning cycle. It’s like the express cycle of a washing machine, except that you feel far dirtier afterwards. I’m just such a loser! (Rinse.) Why do I even bother when I can see just how horrible it is? (Wash.) How could I have ever imagined that I could do this? (Spin.)
Did I feel better after that? Nope. Not at all.
Missing from the moaning and groaning cycle was the news that one of my colleagues at Moravia had felt inspired to also join the race. (Lovely!) That many of my friends have been emailing for daily updates. (Cool!) And that I even managed, at albeit a slower pace than many, to write the first twenty percent of my first ever attempt at novel writing. (Awesome!)
Whether it’s called writer’s block, performance anxiety, or any other number of terms, these minor panic attacks do indeed pass. By the time we reach (the commonly known and vastly overrated) mature stage of our lives, most of us have adopted a range of coping strategies — good, bad, and ugly. Time with the Xbox. A jog around the park. Channel surfing. One (or two! or three!) glasses of wine. Screaming into a pillow. I decided to take a look through the posts jamming the NaNoWriMo forums. Whew! I know at least that, even in this, I am not alone.
But after all of the hand-wringing, self-bashing, and task-avoiding stuff, is there really any other option but to find a path forward? And I do not mean the time-wasting effort spent into building yet another path completely. The one you’re on right now is just fine, ma’am and sir! I mean just in setting forth again on your current one!
One of my favorite songs — one I pull out to switch off the moaning and groaning cycle and switch on renewed effort — is an old one from the 1930s: “Pick yourself up.” I’m not so old (really!) to have heard it when it was first released, so am thankful that it made it into the standard repertoire of the world’s best modern jazz vocalists. Most recently, this jazz standard appeared in the soundtrack for Season 5 of the hit U.S. television series Breaking Bad. However, for you young’uns out there who need some schoolin’, it was first written for Swing Time, a 1936 film staring dance giants Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
Watch them work their magic with the song below.
Here’s a snippet of the lyrics for those of you who prefer your inspiration in the non-YouTube-enhanced text form:
Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath,
Pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.
So pick yourself up today, industry colleagues, and dance yourself around the office and get back to it!