Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to direct your attention to the two words shown in the photo above. Do you see them? Those are magical words, my dear friends. They’re magical because, by definition, they are the mark of completion; however, today, they indicate a new beginning. They’re magical because, although short and sweet, they bear a tremendous amount of significance, for in the midst of those six letters lies the power of persistence, the pride of completion, the proof of progress. They’re magical because the moment I typed them, I transformed from someone who is writing a novel, to someone who has written one.
At the very same moment you’re reading it, that two syllable phrase is resting nicely in its place of honor at the bottom of a 289-page, 88,755-word document that I have spent three years molding and shaping into its current form. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than it was a year ago? Absolutely. As am I. A better writer, a better editor, a better person for having accomplished that which I set out to do.
This journey has required more of me than I ever thought possible—more resilience, more commitment, more effort, more vulnerability—and although the process has been mottled with toil, tears, and the temptation to quit, I persevered. Despite the days and weeks and months I spent analyzing the calendar and creating word-count and completion goals that went unachieved; despite the years that began with the dogged resolution to finish my novel manuscript and ended with a sigh of regret and defeat; despite the hours I wasted hoping and praying that this attempt would be different only to fall into the same self-sabotaging habits, this time around did, indeed, turn out to be different.
As I sat at my computer staring at the two words I’d dreamed of writing for a very long time, I wondered why. Why was this year, this time, this go-round different from all the others? What kept me going even when the going got tough and my natural inclination to quit kicked into high gear? My initial thoughts were too numerous and lengthy to mention here—though I have expounded upon many of such subjects during The ABCs of a Purposeful WIP series I started back in May—but as I pondered it further, I realized the simplest, yet most substantial addition to my life over the last year and a half was the element of accountability.
Life coaching, as well as a website, blog, and Facebook page all provided for me a sense of responsibility. Whereas I used to hold my goals and doubts and fears close to my chest so no one could see them, I began to share them. With my coach, with my Facebook followers, and with all of you. Holding on to an even remote possibility that my words could reach just one person who needed encouragement, who needed inspiration, who needed to believe that she/he, too, could trade in the habit of inertia for the push of progress, I determined to keep going.
But that accountability was only the beginning. It led to a personal vow to build a purposeful and consistent online presence. And that blog and Facebook-posting consistency bled into my daily routine, forcing me to create boundaries around my writing time, which, among other things, contributed to self-discipline, growth, and progress.
I have been touting the phrase “progress is possible” for months and now I am living proof of it. People, if there is a dream you’ve been chasing, a goal you’ve been aspiring to achieve, a seemingly out-of-reach desire that you hold and hide in a secret place, I am here to tell you that you can do it. If I, a self-proclaimed quitter, could finish this novel manuscript after a lifetime of unfinished stories and unfollowed paths, then you, too, can do that thing God has put on your heart to do. If you believe it, you can achieve it. So believe it. And then go do it.