Congratulations we killed NaNoWriMo, and I mean that whether you wrote 500 words or you reached the elusive 50,000. I was a NaNo rebel this year, so I didn’t generate 50,000 on one project, but I did meet my dual goals of writing every day and completing a round of revisions on my current work in progress. I showed up to write every day in November, yeah me!
And then on the first of December, I stopped.
I got hit HARD by a raging case of imposter syndrome that lead to me to force myself to even show up to my desk, let alone work on anything. I had so much to be proud of, what the heck was wrong with me?
It got very dark, and I considered pushing the big red button and jettisoning my writing practice all together. There are easier ways to be creative, why do I subject myself to this pain and anguish anyway? I find baking very creative, and as an added bonus everyone loves cookies and there is real need in this world for cake. I could knit and make lovely warm mittens that make people smile. Instead, I struggle to write stories I fear no one will ever read.
Was it the shorter days? Was I tired? Was it the bittersweet approach and stress of preparing for the holidays? My mind swirled and deprived me of sleep. What do I do? Count my blessings and keep at it? Give up writing for a while? Forever?
I needed a plan.
As I walked my dogs and avoided writing, I recalled the goals I’d considered for the new year. With no words flowing, deciding where I want my writing practice to go in the future seemed like a solid use of time. My pals at the Creative Academy (check them out, they are amazing) shared this helpful article by Ashley Janssen , and after many walks with my dogs, I decided on three goals for the New Year:
- Conscious knowledge of where my time goes.
- Intentional, Ritualized Planning.
- Celebrating my success.
Where does My time Go?
I have a hard time saying no. So much so, that in my desperation to understand where I could find more time in my schedule to fit all of my many responsibilities, I read Off the Clock, by Laura Vanderkam this fall.
I realized that I have the same 180 hours everyone else does, but I have to be vigilant about where I spend my time. Vanderkam is the mother of four and has written multiple books about time, if she can do all she does (website, books, podcast, running, etc) then so can I. Her website is an amazing resource. One resource I found most useful is her time-use spread sheet. For two weeks, one typical for me and one not (due to extra responsibilities) I recorded what I did every half hour of the day. When I was done, I analyzed where I was really spending my time.
For the most part, I was happy with what I saw. I was making time for the things in my life I find the most valuable. My health (exercise and sleep), my family, and my writing. There were areas that could use some tweaking, namely the amount of time I spend driving, but until my kids can get themselves places the only thing I can do make that time work for me, by listening to a podcast or using my hands free device to call a friend.
So, knowing where my time goes, where do I want it to go in the coming year? The coming five years?
The Ritual of Planning
The universe, as it so often does, conspired to help me in my quest and my local writers group, Golden Ears Writers, offered a lobby night presentation this last November on the planning system of a very busy local writer. Her process didn’t fit me exactly, but helped my to recall the bullet journal I kept a few years ago. While I enjoyed drawing out my weekly plan then, I realized that I didn’t want to fit it into my schedule in this coming year. I decided to keep my eyes open for a pre-made planner that I could use instead, knowing that I could always go back to my old practice if I struck out.
Scrolling my Instagram feed one day, an ad for the Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner crossed my feed. Thank you Universe (or maybe Facebook?), you did it again!
The journal I ordered from The Dragontree has everything I wanted. Space to plan my week, track my health, record what I was grateful for and personalize to my heart’s content. There is space for monthly reflection and plans for the coming year, along with a section for three years, ten years and lifetime plans. As a bonus, it encourages me to make planning for my success a ritual that feeds my soul, even as it stokes my ambition, with candles, meditation or anything that will help me to nurture and renew myself. I definitely could use that in my life.
As an added bonus, if you are reading this before Christmas the journal is on sale until Boxing Day. Check out their website to order: https://dragontreeapothecary.ca/products/rituals-for-living-dreambook-planner)
Don’t Forget to Party
Lastly, I need to get better at celebrating the little things. I need to pat myself on the back for all the small accomplishments I make on a regular basis. Much of the darkness that creeps in does so because that horrible shrew that lives inside me likes to remind me that I’m not published. And probably never will be. I’m a talentless hack that can’t string two words together. No one cares about my stories.
Man, I hate that bitch!
While it is true that I do not have a novel published, it is not necessarily true that it will never happen. If I don’t find a way to persevere, it might turn out that way, but eventually, something is likely to happen if I keep trying. If I give up, however, that bitchy shrew is going to be right. She cannot win.
I can’t control the publishing industry, but I can control what I do. So I have decided that in 2019 I will focus on all the great things I have done and will continue to do. I encourage by daughters and student with their writing. I contribute in a significant way in my writing group. I work to improve my craft. I support my local writer’s community. I read and share my love of stories with everyone I know. I bake great cakes and cookies. The knitting, it’s still a work in progress, but I have grand plans (it’s on my lifetime list).
I will make time to celebrate in 2019. This infographic from Creative Academy has lots of great ideas for me.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is time and space to reflect on where we’ve been and appreciate the experiences, good and bad, as we learn from them. So, gather your resources and replenish your creative stores for the year ahead by doing what you love with those you love this holiday season. December 26th, prepare to kick ass in 2019 by intentionally planning what you want to do. If you plan for success, you will find it. And, make sure you plan to celebrate all the progress that you make. You deserve it!
Merry Christmas to you! Look out 2019, here we come!