Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Inevitable Conclusion

This year, I once again attempted NaNoWriMo with the hope of completing a novel during the month of November. This year, like all previous, I did not even come close. Previously, I had a hope of finishing: this year, I did not. Forgetting about NaNoWriMo until the day it begins, not having an idea for a story, and not spending any time thinking or working on it make for an effective way of not completing it. Really, I treated like a poor resolution: wishful thinking without any plan as to how to make it happen.

On a seemingly unrelated note, replacing the toilet paper is something that everyone has done at some point or another. For a long time, when I needed to replace the paper, I would simply grab a roll and haphazardly replace it whichever way it happened to be aligned. Somewhere along the road of life, it was pointed out to me that there was a "correct" orientation for the roll, with the end hanging from the front instead of behind, the idea being that it is easier to find the end when you can see it. The two methods seem similar to resolution efforts, with the haphazard being the wishful, whatever-comes-to-mind manner of thinking them up when compared to the directed, planned, carefully evaluated method.

The toilet paper analogy can even be taken a step further. Not only is there a correct way to orient the rolls, but it is critical to never overlook the quantity available on hand. Purposely thinking about and ensuring that there are always two extra rolls in addition to the one in the dispenser is like the planning: making sure your environment is aligned with your goals. Running out without a backup is like the random method of not really setting yourself up for success.

Now, it isn't a dichotomy: there are a number of partial successes and a degree of doing some things right while overlooking others. That can be a trouble with analogies; in making things simpler to explain, there comes the temptation to assume the analogized subject is also simple. Making sure you have toilet paper on hand and that it is easy to access from the dispenser is a really easy task when a little thought is put into it. Making sure a resolution, or goal, actually is setup to succeed is, often times, less concrete.

Back to the opening topic of NaNoWriMo, if I had taken the month of October to come up with a good concept, create an outline, think through the characters' personalties and motivations, and decided what times of day I would write and what areas of the novel I would write first, I would have had a much better chance of success. It is definitely something I will keep in mind for next year.

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