One day, very soon, I will make this a habit and it will run on autopilot and I won’t be able to keep from working on my novel every, single day.
But today is not that day.
Method to the madness
I’ve written multiple posts about the techniques and tricks of the mind that I can use in an effort to achieve this goal: including in July, June, May, it goes on. I have or am currently working through consistent bedtimes, sunlight introducing alarm clocks, flexible writing schedules, rigid writing schedules, no writing schedule and motivational Post-its, to name a few action items. If I’m honest I have not fully committed to a number of the techniques I’ve agreed to try. And I’ve found the most success with the system touched on in Lauren Graham’s book. But, I don’t think that the system or the habit is the issue at present. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t have a plan, that I shouldn’t evaluate how I’m doing each month and create a method for improvement. But, I think that this goes a bit deeper at the moment.
Writer’s block — or clot touches a bit on how my writing is very much so attached to my emotions. That I use it as a catharsis to work through areas of my life that are a bit touchy but also I don’t write to avoid dealing with aspects of my life I don’t want to deal with.
I would be lying if I told you that there has not been a lot of life to deal with this year, but one of my cousins has a great way of putting this stuff into perspective. I might text him about something “monumental” that has happened and his response will likely be “same shit, different day.” This isn’t to minimize what I’m going through, he knows its shitty, he loves the same people I do. What he’s doing is giving me perspective. Whatever it is, it’s not the first time it’s happened — it may not even by the first time it has happened in our family — and people, every day, get through it.
This is something that came up in The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath. One of the premises the author, Leslie Jamison, works through in this book is this idea, which she learned and says is part of the curriculum in AA, that your story is nothing new. Each person in that room has fucked up to a level and extent that they find personally damaging and beyond reckoning, but chances are good that someone else in that room has done the same. “We’ve all woken up disoriented with pockets of time missing” kind of thing. She doesn’t disagree with the idea, but she wants to relate these stories because they are significant. They happened and altered the landscape of someone’s life. (You can listen to more about my thoughts on this book on the Book Reviews page.)
So, you see, whatever catastrophe is unfolding among the people who I love, my life will go on. And it will go on so much better if I’m fulfilling who I am as a person: a writer! I feel most myself when I’m putting together a sentence and intertwining the story of multiple characters, searching for the perfect word to describe a situation, when I’m relating the world to others — it’s exhilarating. And it’s that which I need to keep front and center in my mind as I go throughout my days.
Allow me to be me
One of the things I’ve been telling myself, on days when my brain says “you should be at the beach” or nights when it says “you should be at the bar.” In order to achieve something extraordinary, I have to do more than what I’m “supposed” to be doing. I don’t know anyone really who achieved their goals by spending a few hours at a bar and I know that my mental health is need of several beach days, but, through careful planning, I can do and achieve all of these things. I just need to allow myself to be me, to fill this space as I currently desire to be filling it and to throw out what anyone else thinks I could or should be doing. I must live this life for myself, and that includes giving birth to a beautiful novel — hopefully many — that will sit on the bookshelves of you fine humans one day.
OK, stepping off soapbox now. With some renewed motivation and a day of prioritizing my writing, I am excited and filled with purpose.
You may have noticed that I’ve stopped posting monthly about this. I’ll continue to post this graphic to social media to be held accountable for this goal, but I’ll only review how things are going with a full blog post quarterly or a few times a year. Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the updates.