Push yourself to reveal your true potential

On Wednesday of last week my brand new (that day) critique partner, Leona Bushman, suggested we write a chapter a day, five days a week. This was to be our goal so as to make us a/both accountable to ourselves and each other and b/write at least five days a week. This worked well, until Friday when I inexplicably sent her two chapters and then decided to continue doing that. Except for, I think it was Sunday, when she whinged at such length about having to wait twenty-four hours for another chapter that I wrote and emailed a third chapter on top of the two I had already sent her that day.

Unfortunately, two chapters was only taking me a few hours to write. With my CP eight hours behind in Washington state, US, and my other partner in crime, Peter Koevari, twelve hours ahead in Australia, the hours between 1pm and 8pm were largely filled with me being bored. As you may have noticed, I have no life, being currently off work with a back issue that prevents me from doing anything fun at all.

So yesterday, and again I have no idea why, I decided I was going to write ten thousand words today. Yes. That’s 1 0 0 0 0. To put this in perspective I have been sending about 3 – 3.5k a day to Washington. But obviously I have too much spare time, so I decided to put it to a more productive use. Ah yes, that was why.

So here’s the thing. I actually did it. I wrote 10,045 words today. Took me six or seven hours but that included a couple of walks to the shops to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. But I did it.

My point is, I had no idea that I could. I mean, technically of course I could. If I could write ten thousand words over the course of three days why not over the course of one? But did I know if I had the mental strength, stamina and sheer bullheadedness to actually do it until I did it? No, of course not.

It’s amazing what we can do when we really push ourselves. I’m not sure I can do this for the next four days in a row, but if I could I would probably have a finished first draft by next Monday night. I’m certainly going to give it a shot.

As writers of books we have all, consciously or otherwise, set ourselves the target of writing a novel. It is important to remember that whether we recognise it or not, we are all capable of more than we think. Having a regular writing schedule is absolutely imperative to a writer. After all, someone who writes five hundred words a day for six months will finish their book sooner than someone who writes ten thousand words one day a month for six months. But every now and then, push yourself a little further. Or a lot further, just to see what you can do. You may be amazed by the results.

What do you think? Have you ever amazed yourself by achieving more than you thought possible?

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About Mhairi Simpson

Writer, dreamer. Magic, dragons, pink mice, cake. Come say hi!
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26 Responses to Push yourself to reveal your true potential

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Push yourself to reveal your true potential | Anne-Mhairi Simpson -- Topsy.com

  2. andrewmocete says:

    I’ve been trying to push myself with my blogging. I started out posting once a week, then two, now I’m up to four. And today I finished up my first series, which was fun to do and also a way to see if I could write about one topic for a month. I’ll probably try a blogfest one of these days.

    • Ooh, if you do, I’m totally in – I was just thinking of that today, and of doing a series of some kind, which you have done admirably. I don’t always know what to write about, and you know how sometimes what is uppermost in your mind isn’t something you want to spread all over the internet? Yeah… I had an idea for a series earlier on. I was just walking over the railway bridge, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the idea was… :S

      • andrewmocete says:

        Thanks for the compliment. I always wonder who’s reading my posts.

        You should record those ideas into your phone. You don’t want to forget your Stairway to Heaven, right?

      • Stairway to Heaven? I assume we’re not talking about the song here…

        Good idea about the phone. I just read a post over on Kristen Lamb’s blog and it jogged something – I think the idea might have had to do with featuring other people’s blogs for a month or so. I’m sure I can find 31 good blogs on the internet.

        And I don’t always see your posts, mainly because I’m flaky – but when I do see them I love them πŸ™‚

      • andrewmocete says:

        I don’t promote myself enough. I have to realize 3 or 4 mentions in 24hrs doesn’t count as spam.

      • Tut! Didn’t you read my post about that? I’ve worked out you can RT once every hour and that’s fine. If I don’t do it at least every two hours the numbers drop – the tweet simply gets lost in the feed. If you look at how often Kristen and Kait’s mentions go up, I’d say it’s at least every two to three hours. No one has accused me of spamming and I don’t think I’ve lost any followers over it. I have lost some followers but possibly because they don’t say hello and I forget to say hello to them and then they unfollow – I think that’s why…

      • andrewmocete says:

        Yes I did read. I frequently stop by the Anne Mhairi blog. I’ve taken your stumbleupon advice and plan to promote more. Just felt weird at first.

      • Yes, I do understand. I was exactly the same until I realised that every time I reposted the hits jumped.

  3. Yves says:

    Nice post…it is important to push through. We do have to set goals as writers. And also practice discipline. If we don’t, we’ll never finish and/or we’ll have a ton of WIPs.
    Congrats in 10K words!

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I think having a lot of WIPs is a dangerous cycle to fall into – so easy to just give up on one when the going gets touch. If you do it once you give yourself permission to do it for evermore.

      Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  4. Good for you! *sorry about the back though* It’s amazing what we can do when we push ourselves. I did 10K in a day…once. Kudos to you for really taking advantage of this opportunity.

  5. Tony Benson says:

    Hi there fellow crusader. Great work with the writing. It’s so rewarding to make such great strides with the project. My only similar experience was NaNo in November. I completed it in 17 days because I didn’t expect to have enough time available for the rest of the month. Not sure there was a 10k day in there, but I came close a couple of times.

    It’s good to meet you. I’ll follow your rss feed.

    • Hi Crusader! Thanks for following. I’m thinking of giving NaNo a shot this year – the only reason I didn’t last was that I was already working on something else. Well done on doing it in 17 days!! It’s amazing what you can do when you really go for it πŸ™‚

  6. alberta ross says:

    I have done it once but was drained the next day – brain refused to join in again! but I give myself targets and deadlinesall the time and annoy my friends by pushing all the time – they are just being caring I know – but – I do need to push often – I have an idle streak at my core which needs a careful watch!

    • I know exactly what you mean about the idle streak – if I don’t push myself I never get anything done! And I gave myself permission to only do 5k today and my brain doesn’t want to – will have to push for anther 10k!

  7. Liza Kane says:

    Yes, I definitely did amaze myself. I shared in my “new year’s post” the beginning of this year that my success with chin ups (and other physical endeavors) enabled me to accept success in other areas of my life, namely writing. Because of that epiphany, I set down on the writer path that I’m on now.
    NaNoWriMo definitely opened my eyes to the fact that I CAN write a novel, that I have no excuse NOT to write. at that point, I had two retail jobs along with my actual nonwork life, and yet i still managed to cross that 50K word finish line (I didn’t actually finish the story till December). And, I hear you about 10,000 word writing days, because I found that I needed two of those types of days to “catch up”. Those days killed me, but pushing myself to get those words out, especially when i was tired (and knew that I had to work a 12-16 hour work day the next day) made me feel like more of a writer than ever before (and gave me the validation that I needed to continue).

    • Congratulations on the chin-ups!!! Seriously, one day I hope to be able to do them but so far I haven’t even tried!

      You make an excellent point about success in one area of your life enabling you to accept the possibility of success in other areas. Isn’t it just too true that many of us are simply closed to the possibility of being successful? I think that holds us back more than ability/talent or lack thereof.

  8. Adina West says:

    Okay, so you may not have kids to up the ante, and you may not be agented yet, but HOLY COW! 10,000 words in a day! I am in awe, seriously.

    Having read your next post too, does it make you feel less intimidated if I tell you that as someone who does have an agent, I’M intimidated and very impressed by hearing how fast you can work. My best ever day was maybe 2500 words, and I can tell you I was patting myself on the back for that…

    • HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Ok, that makes me feel REALLY good hahahahahaha Does it help you feel less intimidated if I tell you that I didn’t write anything today? 10k can be done, but I don’t think I can do it as a regular thing. Keep patting yourself on the back – your words are obviously good; an industry professional wants to put his/her name behind them πŸ™‚

      By the way, I love the “yet”, as in “you may not be agented yet“. That was very nice πŸ˜€

      Thank you very much for commenting πŸ™‚

  9. Debs says:

    oh, wow. Now I want to write 10K in one day myself. How awesome.

  10. Debs says:

    I am totally inspired — thanks, Anne-Mhairi

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