Every night as I’m falling asleep, I go over everything I did wrong that day.
And I mean – everything. I know that focusing on the negative is a guaranteed way to make me feel like shit, but hey – some depressive habits are hard to break.
Most of the time it’s things like “why did I eat a whole cake” or “why did I think it was a good idea to skip taking a shower” or “oh shit I forgot to call/email/schedule so and so” and “hey you didn’t work out – that’s the 362nd time this year.”. But always, always, “why didn’t I write today?” “I should have blogged about that.” “I could have made a post about that.”
I make no secret of my Writer’s Block that somehow morphed into an utter Creative Block which then morphed into Near-Paralytic-Anxiety When Opening WordPress Block. I can blame it on work stress, self-esteem, watching too much TV, not having the right kind of fuzzy socks to wear – anything – but the bottom line is I allowed myself to get lazy. I let myself fall into the “it’s easier to watch re-runs of The Wire than it is to sit down for an hour and write. So now I’m not only physically out of shape, but I’m mentally out of shape. And it’s been a struggle to do anything that requires creative brain power.
I had a white hot flash of inspiration (RIP Miss Lee) in December when I re-vamped my work space and made a plan to get myself back on track (new stationery = mega inspiration). Then I got distracted with the move. Then we didn’t have internet. Then I was working 12-15 hour days. I had more excuses to not do anything than I knew what to do with.
But on Monday, I had a rough day. Just rough all around. And as I was going to bed, Joel and I were having a pow wow, and I realised yet again that I’m still not writing, still not working toward what I want to be. And I’m still unhappy about it. And then I said out loud, “I’m not even trying. And I haven’t tried. I’m upset with myself because I haven’t tried. And really, I could just stop. Just work forever and that’ll be it.” And I felt painfully unhappy.
And something finally snapped within me. I have to try. I have to force myself to make shit happen, because it obviously won’t happen on its own. Joel told me “just write. Write a story. Not a blog. What’s your story called?”
“uh… Tacos at Night”
“What’s it about?”
“I don’t know – a cat?”
“…ok. Write it.”
So I did. I got home from work the next day, changed, and sat down and wrote for an hour. I made Joel (who barely slept and worked a longer day than me) make dinner and barely said hi to him when he walked in. I didn’t write a blog. I didn’t write an essay. I didn’t do stream of consciousness. Or a prompt. I started a story. And it felt great.
As I went to bed, I felt good about myself. And I remembered this article I read about a writer who fell into a similar hole. She made a tiny writing area in her closet, and sat in there with just her typewriter for an hour a day and wrote. After a few weeks, she got back into the habit of thinking and working like a writer. The time constraints helped her a) bang out ideas, and b) stop before she got burnt out and deleted everything. And it wasn’t long until writing stopped being something she dreaded, and something she looked forward to.
Today, I got home from work, changed, ate dinner, and wrote for an hour on the same story. Then I broke out Illustrator and dusted off my tablet and played with that all night. It also feels pretty great.
So I’m making a new routine for myself. Writing for an hour every day – no more no less. I hope it leads to advances in that whole “more hustle; less sweat pants” resolution I made in January.
If I can keep this up over the weekend, maybe I’ll be able to keep it up for the rest of the month. And if I can keep it up for the rest of the month, WHO KNOWS what will happen. Maybe I can start working on some goals – like how many stories can I write every month? Will I ever get back into the ‘sending out pieces for submission’ stage of my life? But for now, baby steps.
Let’s get through tomorrow. And Friday.
And I have it documented here so I can feel nice and shamed if I fall off track. Woo!