What Lurks Beneath

[723 Words] Go to large-scale experimentation where you can because it will reveal the hidden lessons you need to learn. [NanoWriMo #4/6]

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

What Lurks Beneath

Go to large-scale experimentation where you can because it will reveal the hidden lessons you need to learn. [NanoWriMo #4/6]

During the middle stage of my NaNoWriMo challenge this week, I discovered that throwing open the gates and having a crack at a panoramic-scale experiment is the only way to get to the truth of an idea.

I naturally lean toward being risk-averse, which often leads me to play small rather than bite off anything I might fail to chew.

Writing 800-word blog posts to hone my writing skills is a perfect example of that, but my cautiousness has a significant downside.

The blog post strategy came from my failure to finish the first draft of “the book”. My ego was stinging from the realisation that my artfulness as a writer was akin to a five-year-old finger painter.

Instead of dusting myself off and having another crack at a manuscript, which was taking a big risk in my mind, I decided to play small and upskill myself 800 words at a time.

Writing blog posts has been fantastic for sharpening my ideas and skills but has also blinded me.

IMAGE: Small-scale experimentation can generate a big fish-small pond problem.

A Big Fish – Small Pond Problem

A big fish in a small pond feels like the king or queen of their domain and in control of their world.

My 800-word blog posts are a writing version of a small pond. After a year of practising, I felt like mastery was within reach, and I was getting cockier about my writing.

But I’ve discovered this week that living in the small pond of writing has allowed me to avoid the big questions that genuine mastery demands.

When writing at scale, there is a question that every writer must eventually stare down.

That question is:

What is this story about?

Only with the depth and width of the space created by challenging myself to write 50,000 words could I see the holes in my understanding, and unfortunately, I spotted some them only moments before falling into their darkness.

I Literally Lost The Plot

As I mentioned in #2 My Game Plan, I’m using the slide deck from Dare To Be Your Boldest as the outline for the book. Dare To Be Your Boldest is my keynote presentation that retraces my journey to learning how to trust myself 100%. “Dare” is set up in the Andes mountains of north Peru, and I describe it as a 90-minute adventure into the psychology of courage.

I’ve worked on the structure, themes, and presentation of Dare for more than a year and have continued to refine it after each public presentation. Having lived through the original experience and then examined it intensely in creating the presentation, I assumed that I connected closely with the story’s plot, themes and curve.

I was wrong.

The story of Dare covers nine years of my life, which provides countless plot points and anecdotes that I could include in telling the story.

Generating the 90-minute presentation, which is approximately 3,000 words, required me to ruthlessly cut down the plot points to a shortlist that enabled the audience to understand the true nature of courage. That’s a narrow landscape.

But 50,000 words opens a wide and sprawling landscape to traverse.

That thrust upon me a problem to navigate – Which plot points do I choose? Which is another way of asking myself what the story is about.

I felt like I had arrived at an enormous supermarket of ideas, and now I had to pick the ingredients to bake the perfect pie. Hair has been pulled during the past week trying to answer that question resulting in the story taking a direction I never expected and long-forgotten memories being shared.

Choosing to jump into a large-scale challenge has forced me to move beyond the obvious and superficial. I’ve had to search deeper for meaning.

All that would have remained lost had I restricted myself to the blog and presentation. Now, I’m exploring the panoramic landscape of 50,000 words and opening my mind to the story I genuinely need to tell.

There’s merit in small-scale experiments and much you can learn. But I encourage you to move beyond it, especially if you lead people and seek creativity and innovation.

Go to large-scale experimentation where you can without risking lives or livelihoods because it will reveal the hidden lessons you need to learn.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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