For years, now, I’ve wanted to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The premise is that you commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in one month, egged on by a community of writers all over the world who are doing the same thing.
Every November, life seems too busy, and this year was no exception, so I did it anyway – because if not now, when? Thirty thousand words later, I fell 20,000 words short of the target and am 30,000 words ahead of where I might have been had I not participated.
It reminded me of not doing the 14km City 2 Surf in August and then running the 10km Canberra Times Fun Run in September. Falling just short of a lofty goal still places us way in front of where we’d have been if didn’t give it a shot.
My next lesson was in ‘niche’. As the novel is for teens and includes a character from a boy band, it became clear that I needed to include some original song lyrics.
I put up a post on my Facebook timeline asking if any of my friends happened to know how to write a hit song, and within about 30 minutes, one of them had written a duet for me! Four verses, the chorus and a bridge. The lyrics were perfect for the storyline (which she hadn’t read) and I was in awe! (She will of course be properly acknowledged as the author.)
She said she’d been scribbling song lyrics since she was a kid, but isn’t ‘musical’ and couldn’t imagine the tune. I could hear the tune, but couldn’t think of lyrics – a little like the storyline of “Music and Lyrics” with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.
It had me thinking about what it looks and feels like when we’re in our ‘element’ – when we’re doing something we love that feels effortless – or pleasantly challenging. When others look at us and say ‘You make it look so easy!’ and it feels easy, and enjoyable. The kind of thing we can do with our ‘eyes shut’.
My friend really undervalued her ability, and it wasn’t until I pointed out that not everyone can churn out a full song in 30 minutes that she began to think about it… and that’s the thing about our element. We become so comfortable there, it can be easy to under-value our skills. We can second-guess ourselves with thoughts like ‘I’m not that good! Anyone could do this…’
Most of the time, anyone couldn’t. It was a great reminder to celebrate our strengths and admire the strengths in others.
Where might you have been under-valuing yourself lately?