Who’s risking what?
Many challenges face-off against the writer every day. We’re no different than anyone else. Challenges are, in their own way, the essence of living.
You’re going to ask me what I mean by that statement, aren’t you? The answer is easy enough. The act of living is a challenge and a risk.
When you close your eyes at night, you face the risk of not waking in the morning, or of waking late, or half a dozen other scenarios. Taking your morning shower is riddled with challenge and risk. Preparing and eating breakfast has its own risks. Every action we take risks something.
How can everything be a risk?
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; with humans there are multiple reactions and outcomes. That’s a law of physics and one of human nature. Each potential action has at least one question attached to it, which leads to another question or not.
- If I get up early tomorrow morning, can I look through that new proposal before I have to leave for the office? Answers: Yes, No, and Maybe
- If I read through it before I leave for work, will I have time to digest the information and have a ready contribution at the meeting when I get in there? Answers: Yes, No, and Maybe
- If I understand the proposal’s gist and have my response ready, will it be good enough? Answers: Yes, No, and Maybe.
- And so on, and so on.
One question begins the string. Depending on how insecure a person feels at the time of the original question, the Q & A might last quite a while. This process of managing risk, for many people, seems to be done on a sub-conscious level. If you ask them how they decided to do “X”, they don’t have an answer for you. They might just shrug and say something like “Don’t know. It just seemed right.” Other people are aware of their process of choosing actions.
A personal example helps clarify the process.
Here’s how I did my choosing for November’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I hadn’t planned, originally, to do NaNoWriMo this year. I had too much planned for the month. That’s when the process began for me.
- Am I going to do NaNo this year? NO
- Would I consider being a rebel this year? Sure
- Can I do NaNo without losing momentum on those projects I’ve chosen to work on in November? Yes
- Here is when I asked an open-ended question. How can I do that? Answer: combine the two, NaNo and your editorial calendar for the month.
- I liked the answer and made my play. I could take the five smaller, almost finished projects and spend my NaNo time working on those—one or two at a time—and get them out and on their way before the end of the month.
- Can I really get all of that done and still work on my novel “Dreamie’s Box” and my other obligations? NO
- Can I get at least three of those smaller projects done during the month and get them out? YES
- And that is the plan I’m working on now. I took a risk with doing NaNo, knowing how much writing and studying work I already had planned. When I combined the two, I was accomplishing both challenges, while striving to do more. With this approach, I actually ended up risking nothing beyond that of a normal calendar month. You could say that I exercised my Capt. Kirk mode for this one. I changed the rules to suit my needs.
Planning for me is critical. I get nothing done without it. Calculating the risks of actions eliminates problems later. It also prevents guilt and distress because of unexpected outcomes. It creates a kind of cushion zone for me. (Ask me some other time about how websites throw everything out the window, decision-wise.)
When I learned this trick of risk management, it freed me. Yes and No take little breath or time, but they create control for both thought and deed. That’s important to me, more than getting the work done.
I hope this process can help others to take control of their questions and their choices.
A bientot, mes amis,
- NaNoWriMo – The Challenge to Craft An Emotion Filled Story in 30 Days (agzalens.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Day #1 (writerisms.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo isn’t bad. You are. (chazzwrites.com)