Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Making Progress

In typical form this post started out as a bunch of randomly jotted down half sentences. Even as I typed this was not sure where it was going to end up. I'm considering the fact that words were typed at all as some kind of progress. In fact this is the first week I have instituted a word count target. Not necessarily daily targets but I have split them up into three categories: Blog, Novel, and Short Stories; each one with a modest target assigned per week along with a suggested breakdown of which one(s) get attention on which day(s). Monday's (when this was written) would have normally been a "Novel" day for me but my head was not in the right space for it so the blog post won. 

It's amazing what a little progress can do for a person's motivation. I mentioned my word count targets to a friend (a non writer) and their response was, "If you have to meet a target, won't that start to feel like work?" You see, I have a day job, a regular 9-to-5 if you will, and I am just doing this to fulfill a creative desire, and because writing is something I truly enjoy doing, it never feels like work. How does that saying go? Find something you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life. Something like that. As you can see, I'm not so good at research.

Speaking of which, Albert Einstein has a great quote which I like to pull out for various occasions, this being one of them: "If we knew what we were doing it wouldn't be called research". I usually pair it with another quote from my favourite scientist, Richard P. Feynman: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

I pretty much live my life according to these two quotes (along with another great one by Niel deGrasse Tyson, "When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.") As modern, evolved humans, every day we challenge and interact and learn. Input. Observe. Change. Input. Observe. Change. If you don't have some kind of end goal, if there's no measuring stick in the ground, it's easy to get lost, or worse, caught in a circle where it feels like all you're doing is work but you're not actually getting anywhere. There needs to be progress. 

In order to show progress you need to know where you are going and where you started. In order for that progress to have any meaning you need to know how to measure it, and what makes things really interesting is that as a society there are billions upon billions of individual goals all scattered about. Each one of us, knowingly or not, willingly or not, charting a path from Point A to Point B and often with very little regard for what impact our progress may have on the progress of others. When progress towards a goal doesn't align with someone else's progress towards a goal we end up with conflict, and any good storyteller will tell you that conflict makes for a good story. 

So go and do something right now. Create a goal, chart a path, interact with others, learn, adapt, change,  measure your progress, and above all else - challenge. If we had no way to measure progress, if no one was ever challenged, if there was never any conflict... I dare say that there wouldn't be much to write about (and I'd already be behind on my word counts for the week.)

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