It's NaNoWriMo, and while the name of the game is writing and getting 50,000 words down by the end of the month, I'm going to blog about something a little different: creative commitment.
What is commitment? According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:
com·mit·ment noun \k?-?mit-m?nt\
Definition of COMMITMENT
1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee
b : mittimus
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date
b : something pledged
c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled
Notice that very first definition. There's a certain amount of crazy that comes with a personal avowal to a particular course of action. It's crazy to other people, anyhow, when you pledge to fly to the moon, climb Mount Everest, journey to Antarctica, run that marathon, or write that book. The reason's it's called a commitment is that most people will think you're mad to dedicate your time, energy, and resources to a venture they wouldn't undertake themselves and one that, in their minds, is doomed to failure.
But we know those insane adventures into the unknown weren't so crazy because people have done them. And there are still more challenges to claim victory over if we decide to commit ourselves.
Take this example: Kina Grannis had this stop-motion music video made entirely of jelly beans. The production was filmed over 2 years using 288,000 jelly beans.
Did you go "Wow. That's insane. Why would anyone do this? It's genius!"?
That is the product of commitment. Awe. Shock. Bewilderment. Inspiration. It takes you going the extra mile, you going to greater lengths than can you'd imagined, you having the balls to say, "No, that's not good enough for me" and doing something about it.
I admit that when I first saw this video, I was like, "Huh, that's really neat." But it didn't occur to me just how much work went into it until I watched the making of.
And that's part of the irony of creative commitment. As the creators/directors/writers, etc. we must brood and gnash our teeth and sweat blood over the most minute details, but the art comes in making sure no one else notices until we pull back the curtain. Just think about your favorite big-budget movie productions and how much more you appreciated them when you watch a special making-of feature, or heard an interview with the director about filming challenges.
Once we'd seen this making-of documentary, my husband and I watched this music video over and over again. The simple, cutesy song that would have likely fled our brains the minute we turned to something else has stuck with us day and night. Kina Grannis is now a name we know, and it's all thanks to this video.
So my lesson is this: Commitment is about more than just time and word counts. It's about a personal pledge to make your work the best it can possibly be. When NaNo is done and you have your 50,000 words, will you be going to the extra mile to edit, rewrite, and then edit some more? Will you get over your 50,000 words--even if they're complete crap--and shape your work into a masterpiece?