One week turned into two; two weeks turned into three. Time continued to march on as I sat in front of computer screens, tablets, or with pen and paper in hand, trying to will myself to write. Brief spurts of encouragement came as I would occasionally spill out a few words, a few dozen words, or whatever out onto the page. I wasn’t feeling it.
I am not entirely sure what has been going through my head, but suffice to say that I had fallen off the ladder of my writing once again. Habits were not formed to a point that I could rely on them carrying me forward. I slipped, thought I caught a rung, then slipped again. I crashed hard.
As I was metaphorically lying on the ground in the crumpled heap, I did a lot of thinking. Even though the activity of writing hadn’t been coming to me, I was using the time to map out how I was going to move forward. Writing is what I want to do, fame or obscurity. Fans or detractors. Money or debt. It’s why that I am over 40 now and am still holding fast to this dream of being a writer.
But I am a writer.
For too long I have been putting too much pressure on everything around the act of me writing. Book sales, blog views, etc all played higher roles in my daily life than they should have. Sure, they are important to some extent, but when I use them as drivers to how well I am doing, then it falls apart. I chase after these things without doing the things that I need to actually get those things. I build my castle in the sand, ignoring the waves as though they don’t exist. Eventually the reality comes and my castle lays in ruin. My lacking work in foundational habits are what continue to harm me. Time management, task management, accountability, writing organization (notes, outlines, research), and habit building all worked against me since I wasn’t working to build those skillsets.
Before this, I thought that as long as I wrote every day, then I’d be set. I felt that if I hit 1000 words or more, then all would work out. I was proven wrong. The writing discipline is important. It can’t be the only thing. If I want to really transform, it can’t be the only thing.
It was time to change this path; it was time to build a better foundation.
A lot of this time I’ve been spending not writing, I instead have been building a new journaling/task management habit. Every morning, within minutes of waking up, I am writing in a pocket journal a brief entry, a mantra, and some of my known tasks for the day. It’s a basic practice that I needed. It is a practice that initiate my day, setting me onto a path that is more prepared. It is like a way of clearcutting a safe path through the woods prior to traveling rather than simply running into the forest with reckless abandon. Getting this right every day has become an important part of my ritual.
As I build from that, I have been also reexamining what I am doing, or how I am going to continue approaching my writing. What is it that I want to do as a writer? And based on what I want to do as a writer, how am I going to continue that while also living my life so that one doesn’t interfere with the other, building on each other. Life and writing appeared to be two separate entities in my life meaning that I was either living life or I was writing. I was not acknowledging the need to have those to lives intertwined.
No matter what though, I want to keep things going on this site. Every day can get too overwhelming, not only in what I write about, but in just getting it done. It takes energy away from writing fiction. But discipline in adhering to a schedule does help as well. Discipline in keeping a schedule is not only a good creative exercise, it is simply good behavior.
Then there was the whole Free Fiction Fridays that I was trying out some time ago. I heard an interview with another author who did a new 500-ish word short story every week for free (much like I tried before), and he did so for many years. It inspired me to try again. On top of that, I’ve been going through poetry once again and have been wanting to try at that more often as well. Could I do a poem a week too?
I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. I don’t want to get myself into a situation that is taking over too much, or is so easily disrupted when I get into a little trouble. Planning this out has to be something I believe I can formulate into my writing life and my personal life without one dislodging the other.
One blog post; one poem; one piece of short fiction (100 to 700 words and no more) should be easily manageable, but I also want to be writing, editing, planning, revising, etc on the side too. Again, as I say at nauseum: I need to figure out how to making this venture consistent and resilient.
For starters, keeping the habit of task management and journaling is a good start to keeping me on track. Given that I’ve now been doing it for a few weeks, I feel confident that I can keep that going. Tracking what I need to do on a daily basis takes a little of the load from having to worry about what I have to do. I am not trying to manage that all in my head. It’s on paper. I can reference back to it later. Next I am going to be working on stepped goals and tasks, taking the time to plan out a week, a month, and a year in advance. Those first steps of keeping a simple journal are clutch though in moving that way.
So that is it: three days each week will see content: Monday will be blog day (with this one being the kick off), Wednesday will be poetry day, and Friday will continue as the reborn Free Fiction Friday (there’s no clever alliteration for the other days I can think of now).
This is me being what I am: a writer. And I am grabbing that rung to try climbing that ladder once again.