This flag is the ensign of the United States Power Squadrons, a national organization dedicated to education, safety, and enjoyment of recreational boating, both power and sail. My husband, an avid sailor, is an active member, and this past weekend participated in a regional rendezvous. One of the events, the Predicted Log Contest, inspired this message.
In a Predicted Log Contest, teams work one at a time to row a dinghy over a course that has a known length as many times as they want, timing themselves and figuring out how fast they go. When they’re ready they are given a new course, told how long the new course is, and predict how long it will take them to row the new course. They don’t have access to any timing equipment at this stage. The team that comes closest to their predicted time is the winner. This weekend the winning team finished only 33 seconds off from their predicted time.
I love this contest, because it’s not about how fast or how strong you are. It’s about how consistent you are. It’s about setting a pace and sticking to it. That’s what makes you a winner.
The message is obvious, isn’t it? In many aspects of life the main thing is not to be outstanding or exceptional, but to be consistent and reliable. As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Some days it’s easier, some days it’s harder, but you just keep showing up.
I’ve learned to apply this to my writing through the Camp NaNoWriMo experience last month. I set a goal for words each day and I stuck with it. Now that camp is over I’m still writing, albeit with a lower word-count goal each day, but I have learned to really appreciate the discipline of writing every single day, without fail. The point is to show up. The point is to be consistent. I don’t need to do marathons and have huge word counts in any given day. I just need to know what my own particular pace is, and stick with it.
That’s life, after all.