Here were are on the 5th day of my December daily writing challenge. So, how has my writing been going, you ask? Well... pretty well.
It was challenging early this week because I didn't have as much time as I thought I would. We've had blizzard conditions here and a lot of snowfall, so kiddo was home from school for two days. I LOVED having him here with me - now that he is in grade one I really miss him during the day and he's so tired by the end of his day that it's not the highest quality bonding time. That change to my plans though meant that my writing was pretty distracted. I couldn't get into 'the zone'.
I've been posting my daily challenges on my Facebook page and on Twitter. Have you been following along? I want to talk about today's challenge. I found this exercise to be pretty effective at working through some things that have been on my mind anyway.
December Daily #Writing Challenge - Day 5: "How do you feel when you have to write something? You can answer this question in general, or you can think of a specific writing project you must produce." Once done, "ask yourself: What did I learn from this exercise?" (Source: How to be a Writer, Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play ~ Barbara Baig)
My tendency is to resist writing exercises that feel like... well... exercises. I hear the words writing and any kind of structure - write about xxx for xx minutes - and my body utters a visceral "ugh".
Once I begin writing, I am most always pleased with the result. It seems a lot like going to the gym, a different type of exercise. It is work, not play, not down time, not 'me' time... at least this is not how I tend to think of it. Yet I know that once I get to the gym, most days I am glad I went. There is the direct benefit of physical exercise as a reward, but more importantly the reward of a feeling of perseverance and increasing fortitude.
The more often and the more regularly I go to the gym, the easier the physical exercise becomes and the more benefit I get from it. Writing must be like this. The more I write and the more regularly I write, the easier the process will become and the greater the benefit. My skills will improve, confidence will improve, and the final product will, hopefully, improve.
It occurs to me that we tend to think that if we have found something that we love to do or that fulfills us, it should always be effortless. For various reasons, even what we love to do can feel like work. It is work, but that fact does not have to make it unenjoyable.
Procrastination is all about that feeling. If we see a task as stressful or not pleasurable, we will often postpone it in favour of things we would rather be doing. If we love to write, then why do we procrastinate when it comes to a writing challenge? It's all in how we see the challenge. If we see it as something negative, a "have to", then we are dragging ourselves to the desk to complete it rather than simply sitting down to do what we love. We are struggling with how to begin it instead of just beginning to write.
When you have a chronic illness, as I do, everything can feel like work. There's a lot of self-talk required to brush away the negativity that comes with pain and fatigue and a sense that the day will be a difficult one. I can't accomplish what I used to in a day. I need to make choices. We all do. The fact is that if everything is work, why shouldn't we choose to work hard at something that satiates us. If I love to write, then I ought to choose to do that work and allow myself to enjoy it.
I do enjoy it. Perhaps not as much today as on another day, but here I am doing the work anyway. Last night I hardly slept, but my son had a bus to catch and I always like to send him off to school in good spirits. It's -24°C outside. I am now freezing cold after the walk and wait for the bus. Just as soon as my electric blanket has had a chance to warm my bed, I'll be back in it. Not the day I had planned and lots of other 'have tos' are going to have to wait, BUT I did manage to write! I didn't think I'd be able to articulate much today, but I did write something. Is this the best job I could do with this topic? No. But it's good enough, AND I've left some room for improvement. :)
I hope that whatever you love to do, you will do it often and regularly so that it seems less like work - though it will sometimes require hard work - and more like the fulfillment of a life that is uniquely yours.