My goal this month is to write 2,000 words a day. Today I wrote 1,598 words. So I might feel like a failure except yesterday I wrote 4,718 words. I am keeping an Excel spreadsheet of my daily word counts (cuz I’m geeky like that) so I know that right now I am averaging 2,300 words a day. So it’s not the end of the world if one day I don’t hit my quota. I can have a little perspective about it.
Now that I have been writing every day for three weeks straight (that might not seem like much but to me it feels like walking on water) I am beginning to understand and recognize the ebb and flow of my writing life. Some days the story rains out of me, other days the well is dry. But now, with a little experience, I am beginning to trust this flow instead of fight against it. I am gaining and learning from my experience.
This will be the first novel I will complete and honestly I am already itching for the next one. I can’t wait to have experienced this process in its entirety: getting the idea, developing the characters and plot, writing the first draft, revising, getting reader feedback, revising again, and polishing my sentences until they shine. (And submitting for publication, which is a whole other process.) I can’t wait for the next one because writing it will feel completely different because I will have done it before. With three kids! *all the mom’s high five*
Next time when I get stuck, because I know I will (see previous post on the godforsaken middles), I won’t panic. I have learned what helps me: Take a break, change locations, change my writing medium (I am way more free to write whatever if I am writing by hand or typing in the notes on my phone), read something inspiring, talk out my story with my husband, or just sit and think about my characters. Come back strong again another day. I am learning who I am as a writer and how my brain works. It’s so cool!
This made me think about how this can apply to other things — the first time we experience something can be scary. We don’t know how we will react, if we will survive. The first time our kids go to school, the first holidays after losing a loved-one, the first time you step outside your comfort zone…all these firsts.
It’s not that facing these things a second or third or tenth time are any less difficult — the hard stuff is still hard no many how many times you’ve done it — it’s that you survived it once already. You have a point of reference. And that in itself is a small comfort.
We go through hard stuff, we gain experience, we go through more hard stuff, we gain more experience. And the experiences teach us stuff about ourselves and how we cope, what works and what doesn’t. So we can do it better/different next time. Identify your triggers, your hard places, and find a positive strategy that keeps you from getting stuck.
We will never stop going through hard stuff. But if we learn who we are and how we work, we can help ourselves when those times inevitably come.
(BTW I submit my creativity kick starters as suggestions for keeping your heart and mind unstuck: take a break, change your location, read something inspirational, talk it out, let yourself think it through and feel it all the way, maybe even write something! I would also add dance it out and sing it out, cuz it’s fun and it works ya’ll.)
Whatever your experience, I hope you share it with someone. We can learn a lot from each other.