My whole being has been telling me I need to write more. I need to get back into writing consistently. If not to complete the thousands of personal projects I have milling around in my brain, to simply begin to get some of the jumble out of my head and onto paper. That always helps. I kept meaning to, and kept right on…just…not doing it.
In the back of my mind I kept thinking “I’ll just try NaNoWriMo* again” and immediately felt all the barriers that I have with taking a month and writing 50,000 words during that time. It isn’t realistic, no matter how I tried to make it fit into my November schedule, there were no times that would allow me to get anywhere near 50,000 words in that month. So I asked myself “what would allow me to write consistently?” I need to develop the muscle, the habit, of writing again. How, I pondered. And I pondered this for awhile. How? How was I going to do this.
Do I have a novel or two I have ideas for? Yep, I sure do! Do I have several curriculums that are outlined and waiting for me to fill in? Absolutely! Do I have some killer content floating around in my brain and on post it notes? You better believe it!
None of them are being written though, because I don’t take the time to write. And I have my reasons, most of them have to do with the fact that I write so much for work, and I do so many mentally strenuous things for work. Also because I have a wife and a toddler and a life. This urging to write again would not be ignored though, I had allowed myself to indulge my mental blocks and I felt myself coming to a crossroads that I couldn’t find acceptable anymore. So I got to work creating my own challenge to help me just write something.
I started googling. Habit training. Writing. What the great authors and bloggers do. Overcoming mental blocks. All of it, I googled all of it.
Then I put together an outline, a framework that would allow me to start small and stretch my muscles of attention and focus and…well, frankly would get me back to writing again. I put myself in the shoes of someone I might be coaching, someone who had a family and a demanding job and a life. I asked myself a thousand questions along the way, referred back to my trusty resources I found during my googling. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I started editing, asking myself questions about how this would be for me. How this challenge I was creating would be for my own brain and life rhythm. I have CPTSD and ADHD, I am a perfectionist, I spend my days working with folks in the anti-violence and anti-oppression field, I care for and teach a toddler, I have a spouse who I adore who works really hard, we work from a home that we are still literally unpacking.
Would this challenge be doable? Would I be able to commit to it, to work hard within it, and also be able to make it to the end without being so “over it” that I would just stop writing altogether when I was done? Remembering the last time I tried NaNoWriMo, before we had a kid, how long it took me to pik up my writing again after that. I thought about the two books I have written and published, and how they were both the culmination of well over 5 years of work. One of them took me ten years to write! Then it occurred to me that if I wanted to be able to write consistently, to get somewhere in my own personal projects, and to keep going…I needed to listen to the advice I found all over the internet:
And measure success by my own markers.
So I rewrote the challenge again, in its entirety. As I rewrote it, I got this little gnawing in the back of my mind that I was being selfish to keep this to myself. I thought about what I’d written before and how every time I started out writing for myself, but ended up rewriting it and sending it out into the public eye because I was convicted after hearing friends and colleagues talk about how much the work had impacted them. And I wondered if it would be worth doing the same for a challenge I hadn’t even completed yet. It wouldn’t be ready! I wouldn’t have been able to test it or really prepare for it to be judged by anyone else! Everything else that I have released to the public has been rewritten about a million times before it got there, most of it had been thoroughly vetted by an editing team!
And then I heard myself saying to a friend “I really believe that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.”
I believe that writing is therapeutic, it is clarifying, and compelling. Even if the words that are written see no other eyes. The very act of putting pen to paper and connecting to the swirling thoughts of the mind and pulling them from the theoretical space into reality is powerful and effective. I believe this deeply, I have the actual research to back it up, and I have seen it repeatedly in my work and personal life. I have even seen it in others.
And now I was being challenged by another set of beliefs.
So I put it out there. Misgivings and doubts about my abilities were swirling. Second guessing whether it would even be worth it to anybody else to engage the idea, let alone if anyone would get anything from it. After the first couple of days, I knew that I needed to hold those doubts loosely, and listen to the ever increasing volume of the universe whispering to me “if you are leading, you must lead” and “you are a writer with something to say that others need to hear.”
I began week one of JuWriSoMos with every other participant who signed up. With a timer set for five minutes, and a prompt that was easy for me to write about.
I know we’re only a week in, and I know that I keep editing and preparing the rest of the challenge for myself and other participants. I know that I might still fail this one, I might run out of steam and stop short of the goal line.
Right now though, I feel like it is possible. I have written more for myself this week than I have in the last year, I feel like it is possible I will find the energy for more of this. I feel like it is possible that I, and all the brave writers who are joining in this challenge, will make something of this. I feel like it is possible we will keep the habit going. I feel like it is possible that some really beautiful and life changing things are going to surface through our writing.
For now, that is enough.