In February, I dared myself fight resistance and work on my novel. (My word for 2014 is DARE.)
It turned out to be a great choice for my month, both because I got a lot of work done on my novel, and because I learned a lot about how Resistance operates in me on the days when I didn't.
As the month draws to a close, I wanted to capture a few of the learnings I had this month, before I turn my attention to setting a new DARE for March.
Here's a play by play of how my month went:
Week One: I buckled down and put in some nice long work days. The more I worked, the more motivated I felt to keep working. I made huge progress. I was recording my successes in Instagram with the hashtag #beatingresistance, and by the end of the week I was starting to feel like the hash tag was all wrong. There was no resistance. On the contrary, I was looking forward to each work session and feeling great.
Week Two: The weekend at the end of Week One hit, and my kids demanded all my attention. I didn't fret, though, knowing that they'd go to school on Monday and I could get back into my groove. Except that I didn't. Monday came and went with no novel work. Then Tuesday. By Wednesday, I got a little bit done, but Resistance was in full force by that point. Very little was accomplished by the end of the week and I was gaining a greater respect for the power that Resistance could wield in me.
Week Three: The kids had the week off. You can guess what happened. The month was going downhill fast, in terms of my novel progress.
Week Four: With renewed determination, I sat down on Monday morning after the kids left for school, and spent the day trying to getting back into my story world. I had to fight the urge (with varying levels of success) to get up out of my chair, work on my quilt, write a blog post, fix myself a snack, and on and on. I made some progress. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a start. I got a bit done on Tuesday too, but Wednesday and Thursday were packed with non-writing commitments and I didn't find any time. So, it was a mixed bag for the week.
Looking at the month as a whole, I see that I felt a lot of self-imposed pressure, and it increased significantly toward the end of the month. I also felt a lot of guilt when I wasn't successful. That pressure and guilt took a bit of the joy out of the process, and made it less rewarding to work on the novel, even when I was able to carve out the time. So.....
Here's what I am taking from the experience:
- The more time I spend with my story, the easier it is to get back to my story world. (Week One)
- If I let myself get off track, it's easy for one bad day to turn into a week of bad days. (Week Two)
- Having the kids out of school (weekends or holiday weeks) is a huge momentum killer for me, (though that's not necessarily a bad thing if you look at the big picture of my life.) (Week Three)
- Too much pressure and guilt slows me down. (Week Four)
I will be carrying February's dare with me all year long, but I expect I'll lighten it up a bit as I focus on other things too and try to find the right balance that leaves me productive but still finding the magic in the process. So, here is my game plan going forward, putting into practice the learning:
- Jump start my week on Sunday evenings: Try to get in the habit of doing something on Sunday night related to the novel. Just reviewing a few pages of notes or the last scene I wrote might be enough to put me back in touch with the novel just enough to get an easier start on Monday morning. (Thanks, Kelly, for that suggestion!)
- Rock my Mondays: Do whatever it takes to clear Monday's calendar so that there can be NO EXCUSE about getting in a nice long workday on Mondays. It sets the tone for the week and makes it that much easier to get back to work each successive day.
- Remember the kids come first: The reason I quit my corporate job in the first place was to spend more time with my kids. So, don't feel bad about not working on the novel while they are home. At the same time, don't use them as an excuse to slack off. Learn to recognize when it's Resistance, and when it's real.
- It's okay to mix it up: If I find I'm starting to feel a lot of self-imposed pressure, I will give myself permission to do something else -- garden, quilt, paint, see a friend. I write more and have better ideas when I'm balanced and happy.
Despite my rocky performance on this month's dare, I leave February feeling even more committed to my story. My characters are starting to feel more real, as is my story world and it's conflicts. I'm learning a lot about my creative process and what works for me and what doesn't. I like where I'm headed, and am determined to see this to the finish line.
Thanks for rooting for me!
Coming up on Saturday, I welcome March with a new dare. It's totally different than my first two. More to come on that on Saturday. See you then!
My Dares for 2014 (a running record):
January: Let my days evolve naturally
February: Fight Resistance