I once had lunch with a writer, someone I knew well from high school, who had brought her play for me to read – in front of her. The play was cleverly written; it was a roman à clef – or, perhaps more properly, une pièce de theatre à clef. It was about office politics that she had experienced and there was a vampire replete with cape and the other accoutrements of vampiredom.
Every time I laughed or my eyes popped, she’d grab the manuscript away from me and say, “Where are you? What did you just read?”
This lunch took place at a time when the internet seemed like a private communication system between MIT and a few other, select, research universities. In-person was it, baby, for immediate feedback on your work.
Writers need feedback.
It’s easier today. Now, we email and blog.
With that in mind, I have begun the first three days of November writing for NaBloPoMo first, and avoiding NaNoWriMo until I could delay no further. The results speak for themselves:
This leads me to the work of University of Pennsylvania research psychologist Angela Duckworth. Duckworth is associated with studies on “grit,” that is, persistence and passion for long term goals. An individual’s high “grit” factor correlates with success and leadership. Says Duckworth and her coauthors:
We define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.
Marathon? Check. Stamina? Check. Disappointment leading to change in trajectory. Hmmmm. I’d like to ask Angela about this one. Isn’t an essential element of learning the ability of an individual, whether rat or human, to modify or change behavior in response to feedback? Is that not a definition of “change in trajectory?” My NaNoWriMo word-count stats were, well, disappointing if my goal is the community-unifying 50K – although I am on track to finish 16,000 words (my individual goal) well before the end of the month.
I think I’m going to define myself right back in the game – while modifying my strategy to begin tomorrow with my novel (NaNoWriMo), and blog (NaBloPoMo) after. What about you?