Hello all, and welcome back to The River Blog! I’m your host, Jenn Hilty, author and procrastinator extraordinaire.
When we last left The River Blog, I was posting the first “half” of “The Sofa In The Lake,” the writing prompt challenge I gave myself a week to finish. Of course, this being my first time trying such a thing, I learned what many first-timers learn: that new ideas often don’t go quite according to plan.
Fortunately, I have a small but understanding audience! So I gave myself another week to finish. And guess what? I STILL didn’t finish! But at least this time, there were slightly better
excuses reasons: I was working a trade show for nine days (imagine sitting in a 10×10 booth 8-10 hours a day for a week straight, unable to fully relax in case one of the random passersby stops and wants to chat about your product, getting neck strain from constantly staring down at your phone or newspaper or sketchbook, and you may begin to understand my trial). Also, the story had grown to being WAY longer than expected (15,746 words total. @.@)
But as of today, I have FINISHED the story – three weeks after starting. And I feel I’ve learned some really interesting things over these events. So buckle up, hombres, we’re going to LEARN SOME THINGS!
You heard me.
LESSONS FROM WRITING PART 2: (Which can be read HERE)
I made a promise. A promise to post something, on a certain day. I wasn’t going to be finished, but by goodness, I was going to post SOMETHING. Even if it meant gluing myself to the chair all evening and ignoring everything else while I hammered words out.
And. It. Was. TEDIOUS.
Yeah, you heard me right. Writing Part 2 was tedious. Was it because I didn’t like the story I was writing? No, in fact I’m really enjoying this little adventure. Was it because I was busy? Not really, although there were plenty of work-based distractions that occasionally got in the way. No, the real reason it was tedious was for a very simple, universal reason that afflicts creative types and hobbyists everywhere:
I JUST DID NOT WANT TO DO IT.
The annoying truth about writing – and I have the input of many other writing/creative friends to back me up on this – is that it’s actually pretty hard to make yourself sit still and just WRITE (or draw or compose or whatever) when you aren’t feeling motivated. Sometimes, at least for me, that lack of motivation stems directly from the fact that I NEED to get something written. It’s the same childish “don’t tell me what to do” mindset as seen in five-year-olds when you tell them they can’t eat grass and they do it behind your back. They didn’t want to eat the grass. They just didn’t want to not be allowed to eat the grass.
This is not a mature mindset, but I am comforted by the fact that many of us have it and that acknowledging you have a problem and committing to working on it is a firm step towards overcoming it.
So, after pittering away my entire day – sometimes with constructive stuff, like cleaning my room/car/chinchilla cage/office desk, and other times with nonconstructive stuff, like trying to come up with clever tweets to share with my 20 followers – I finally had to say, “Enough is enough,” and sit down. And every fiber of my being didn’t want to. OH, how I wanted to do ANYTHING else. Every paragraph. Every other sentence. Every third THOUGHT would skip over to doing something else – ANYTHING else – so as not to have to do this one thing that I claim I actually really love. But I knew I’d just feel like a terrible person if I did that, so I pressed on.
Oddly, much of my motivation for staying still was guilt. I had made a promise, and by goodness, I should at least TRY to keep it. But, you know? I hit a point where the guilt feeling was just making me feel really crappy. And something snapped. Some stubborn, annoyed part in the back of my brain was like, “What the heck? This is STUPID! I know God wants me to write! I know He wants me to use my gift! And He wouldn’t have given me this gift is He didn’t plan for me to ENJOY some of it!” I’ve been having a problem lately, see, of associating my writing time (and lack thereof) with general self-beat-upery. And that’s not healthy.
So I said a little prayer, half asking for help and half stubbornly telling the lazy side of my brain that we WERE going to do this, so just shut up and quit whining! I committed to it. I was not going to leave that seat until I reached a good stopping point, no matter how inconvenient and annoying it was.
And you know what?
I still struggled a bit to stay focused. But something about just reaching that breaking point of deciding beyond all my other desires to do this one thing I knew I needed and, deep down, wanted to do, helped me to push through. And while I didn’t finish the story (which, knowing now how long this story actually ended up being, would have been impossible to do that night), I DID reach an important stopping point that allowed me to post something. And I felt good. I felt accomplished. There was something a little extra rewarding about knowing that I created this thing WHILE overcoming my own natural proclivity towards laziness and entertaining distractions.
Of course, then I went and rewarded myself a little too much by derping around the internet until 2 in the morning, but this is a lesson in moderation
So here’s the Writing Lesson of Part 2, guys: IT IS OKAY AND NORMAL TO NOT ALWAYS ENJOY WRITING. This does not mean that you are a bad writer, or that you shouldn’t write. It’s hard work. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD LET IT WIN. Sometimes – and boy, do I struggle with this, I HATE putting in more effort than I feel like at any given moment – you really do just have to suck it up, sit your butt down, and write.
Oh, hush, you. Sometimes the most obvious life lessons are the hardest ones to apply practically in your own life. And that’s okay, too. =) We’re all a work in progress, but God promises that if we let him, he’ll keep working on us all through our lives. It’s a journey that lasts all the way to heaven.
Well, I think that’s enough for one blog post. Next week I’ll blog about the lessons I learned while writing Part 3, which you can read now over here. It involves my deciding to write an hour a day for Lent (I’m Protestant, not Catholic, but it’s still a cool thing to do) and the benefits of letting people suggest ideas to you along the way. In the meantime, you all have a fantastic weekend, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions on future stories!
Oh, and of course I can’t forget the all-important Random Act of Kindness for the week.
What a great reminder to keep your eyes open for opportunities! You never know when you might see someone in need of a little kindness that only requires the random resources in your car. Go out there and see if you can find someone in need of a little RAOK today! =D