:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

There was an error in this gadget

Monday, November 22, 2010

COFFEE Project Post Three: Small Steps (Tawni)

For my third COFFEE Project post, I am going to tell you all about the massive amounts of progress I’ve made in pursuing my goal of expressing myself creatively more often.

You will be amazed to find out that I’ve written not one, but two entire books in the last week, and recorded that acoustic solo album I’ve always wanted to make.

Bored from all of the accomplishments, I decided to take up painting, and discovered that despite my previous works of art that look like a mentally-challenged, drunken elephant created them, it turns out that as I have aged, I have become a surprisingly exceptional, almost magically talented artist.

Yes, friends, not only was I the fiery ball of motivation headed straight for the planet of my laziness that I promised you I’d be, I was a Big Bang of determination that created a brand new galaxy of productivity. And baby, is there ever some life on this planet.

So… are you buying any of this? Yeah. I didn’t think you were.


Can’t blame a girl for trying, right?

“As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth is that my life got in the way a little this week, and I got in my own way a little too.

I had a few moments of freezing up in fear that psyched me out. Self-hugs and self-ass kicks were delivered to the brain gears, and that seemed to get the mechanics moving again. (Oh, good. We’ve moved from my last post’s predator/prey analogies into some sort of “my brain as a machine” theme. This should be great.)

But I did stick to my new writing schedule.

Okay, almost.

(Get out of my way, Me!)

In my last post, I established that I would write on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

When Tuesday rolled around, I was so amped up to tackle this mental roadblock that I sat down ready for battle, and started writing an hour early, at 10 a.m.

“HA! Take that, chicken-sloth! I will defeat you! Go lay your eggs of sluggishness somewhere else, because This Girl feels like EATING an OMELETTE today,” I shouted triumphantly, aggressively pointing both thumbs at myself. (And then I cocked my head sideways like a perplexed dog, wondering exactly what I meant by that, shrugged, and resumed typing.)

I worked on my little book idea for hours, and only stopped once when my husband called from work. At that point I realized it was almost 1 p.m. and I hadn’t yet eaten anything that day, so I took a break to eat, and then got back on the computer to wrap up what I’d been writing.

I am not planning to hold myself to any sort of word count, because my goal is mainly to get the stream of creativity flowing again, but I checked out of curiosity, and had taken the novel idea from 8000-ish to 11,000-ish words. That’s productive, right?

“Every artist was first an amateur.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Another thing I have discovered about working on the novel is that if I write it broken up into pieces, into chapters, it seems much less insurmountable.

I’m trying to view them as little linear blogs on intersecting subjects, rather than as A BOOK.

I have written eleventy-gazillion blogs. Blogs don’t scare me. Blog is a ridiculous little word… who could be scared to write something called a blog? “Blog” sounds like something you might cough out of your lungs in the throes of a respiratory infection.

But writing A BOOK sounds scary, like something I could never do. “I could never write A BOOK,” shivers my insecure inner naysayer.

Yet I have discovered that I can write chapters, and it’s much less intimidating. So I’m approaching it that way. I’m tricking my insecure inner naysayer. And it’s working. This just goes to show how stupid that insecure inner naysayer was in the first place.

Honestly, that insecure inner naysayer just needs to go away, because she’s pointless, and I’m really getting too old for her shit.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

So Tuesday, I was good. I did what I said I would, and worked toward my goal of more writing time and creativity.

But Tuesday night, I woke up at 2 a.m. Just wide awake, like, “Oh! It must be morning because I feel so refreshed and awake!” awake. No! And I could not get back to sleep until 5, which would be fine, except that the husband and son wake up before 6, so that was the end of my too-short game of sleep catch-up.

I dragged ass all Wednesday and ended up going to bed really early that night because I was so tired. And hey, guess what happens when I do that? I wake up at 2 a.m. again. Wide awake. Duh. Only this time I was lying in bed, thinking, “No, Tawni! Go to sleep! You have to write today! You’re going to be too exhausted to write, damn it,” because you know that stress and pressure always help us go back to sleep. In fact, I think most sleep experts recommend staring at the ceiling in the dark for hours, broken out in a cold, terrified sweat as we ponder our unmet accomplishments, failed goals and impending mortality, don’t they?

Before my tales from an insomniac ironically bore you to sleep, let me long-story-short this ramble by saying that nope, I didn’t write on Thursday. I took a nap. Because I was blearily, eye-burningly exhausted, and the very last thing I felt like doing was writing.

But I guilt-tripped myself into writing on Friday for two hours to make up for it.

I also wrote a blog for my personal website this week.

I even grabbed my guitar a few times, to play and sing songs for an hour or so each time. I think the decision to be more creative and write more inspired me in other ways.

I decided that playing guitar and singing counts as much as writing, because my main goal is to make more time for creativity. I even started writing a new song, which I haven’t done in a long, long time. That was very exciting for me.

Simply writing down that I want to make more time for creative endeavors has helped me remember to focus my energy in that direction. It was really beneficial just to put it out there.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

So I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m moving in a forward direction again. I can see my path. There it is! Yeah! I’m taking steps back onto the creative road I used to travel. This makes my heart so happy.

Yes, I could be moving faster, but I’m still moving, and that’s the important part. I’m going to give my drill sergeant ego some time off, and just be okay with forward movement right now. I don’t need to be the first car at the finish line; I just need to be a part of the race. (Annnnnd… there it is. Today’s weird mechanical/machine theme. I knew I wouldn’t disappoint.)

I am leaving town to spend Thanksgiving with my family, and will be away from my computer and life for a week, so I don’t anticipate much progress before the next post. But when I return, I am going to get right back to my Tuesday/Thursday writing schedule, and work toward adding another weekday to it in December. I promise you. I promise me.

I’m also researching digital 16-track recording devices, so I can hopefully get back into writing and recording songs again.

The most important next goal is to work up to four days of writing a week by the end of December. And I think in January I will start my perfectionist-horrifying no-edit blog, Literary Lampshade. (Thank you for naming it, Patresa.)

That seems like a good way to start off the New Year: scaring the feathers off of my inner chicken. This cage could definitely use some rattling. Oh wait. I decided on a mechanical theme for this post’s cheesy metaphors, didn’t I? I meant to say: This engine could really use some tuning. Vroom! Vroom! (No? Too much? Sorry. I’ll workshop it and get back to you.)

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Bock-bock!” ~Last Words of Tawni’s Inner Chicken


amy said...

Tawni (Writing soul sister)! I'm so with you--I could write a gabillion blog posts, and not think about it. Blogging is fun, and my inner lit critic/editor never ever tells me my blogs are anything less than marvelously brilliant pieces of word crafting that the world just NEEDS.

Writing a book? That involves plotting, and creating believable characters that others will love (or hate) and care about, researching (which always gets me off task--damn you, Google search engine!), and this whole organized, linear process I just don't have time for (if I'm not in bed by 11 PM, I'm just not pleasant to be around the next day).

Which is why I think (a) your idea to break up the writing of a novel into little blog posts is brilliant, simply brilliant!, you tell your inner naysayer to shut up; Amy loves this idea. And (b) I think the fact you were able to pound out X number of words/start crafting your book is a HUGE stepping stone. To someone like me (who walks around crafting the beginning sentences of novels/short stories/essays in her head but then never actually types them down), this is a big deal. Go you!

Also, I'm excited about getting to read Literary Lampshade. I don't know if I could even do a no-edit blog (I mean, I've already gone back in this comment and corrected: 3 sentences, 10 spellings, and 1 weirdly placed ;). I so admire people who take that no-edit leap.

And in conclusion, reading about how you played guitar to deal with bouts of insomnia + watching P's recent guitar playing video = makes me really have a lot of guitar playability envy. I'm going to get me a guitar (or a banjo...I sometimes really wish I could play the banjo, too).

patresa said...

i am super super impressed that you wrote on friday! seriously. and 11,000 words is FANTASTIC! yes! this is going to work.

and i love that you're writing music again! isn't it funny how once you start to tug on one little string of expression, all kinds of stuff starts spilling out? i bet you'll find that as you write more booky stuff, more songs will come out. and as more songs come out, more booky stuff will come out.

LITERARY LAMPSHADE. can't wait! although, i do believe that title is your own, tawni! and i love it. totally perfect.

Finally, this line is amazing and hilarious, and i loved it: "I think most sleep experts recommend staring at the ceiling in the dark for hours, broken out in a cold, terrified sweat as we ponder our unmet accomplishments, failed goals and impending mortality, don’t they?"

yeeeeeeeeeeeeeee HAW!

p.s. today, i wore my "Ain't no lovin' like Okie lovin' t-shirt" to the gym and thought of you. (because you're in oklahoma, to clarify.)

T-Free said...

@Amy: Isn't it so weird how much more intimidating it is to decide to write a BOOK instead of a blog? My writer friend Richard mentioned that people often over-think it, and try to be something they're not, so I'm hoping that by approaching it like "many blogs (chapters) about the same fictional character" I won't lose my voice. Should be interesting, if nothing else, right?

Oh, Google search engine. Such a time-suck. I can spend hours jumping from one thing to the next thing it leads me to, and so on. The internet is like an encyclopedia in a box! Woo-hoo! Where was this when I was a kid?

Girlfriend, if I can play basic guitar, ANYONE can do it. Seriously. I only started so I could write out the songs I heard in my head. I learned barre chords, and was onstage playing in a band within months. You should totally buy a guitar, a simple chord book, and give it a shot. You're a great writer, so you know you'll be a good lyricist. You can do it, rock star!

Thanks so much for the positivity and support. Back at you, my COFFEE sister. :)

T-Free said...

@P: Thanks so much for the kind words, and for having this great idea. Focusing on being more creative is really waking up a part of me that has been asleep for the last four years since I became a momma. And yes, it is funny how one burst of creativity leads to another. Funny and AWESOME.

Oh... wow. That shirt sounds incredible. I have a shirt that has a kitten in a cowboy hat playing a tiny guitar, and he's saying, "Love that country meow-sic!" It was so awful that I had to have it. Gloriously awful. I think the "Ain't no lovin' like Okie lovin'" t-shirt would go great with it! If we ever get to meet in person, I'm going to officially request that you wear that shirt. Haha. :)

Wendy Jans said...

Yes! Digestible chunks really do make things seem easier. I love that. Think chapters, not books. Think blogs. (yes, like a respiratory infection, ha!). Tricking yourself into not being overwhelmed is key. I'm going to think about that and do that myself. Thanks for that, and for your funny writing!

T-Free said...

@Everybody: If anyone leaves a comment and I don't answer, it's because I'm in Sedona, Arizona with my family. I will respond when I get back in a week(-ish). I would never ignore you! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo.

blj said...

Wow, sounds to me like you have as many projects as I do snoozes each morning. Chapter writing, singing, guitar playing, song writing recording, regular blogging, no-edit blogging . . . ROCK IT Tawni! Maybe a drill sergeant ego isn't such a bad thing, if used in moderation, of course. I'm feeling a little out of my league, maybe I need to go to your boot camp.

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

WOW! You were a Big Bang of determination that created a brand new galaxy of productivity!!! I am woot wooting you as I type! I think I would quite like you to be my new alarm clock by the way...... perhaps you could read something you just wrote or sing a new song each morning to me? Ya see, now THAT would help get me going! NICE going Tawni, NICE GOING!!

Steph said...

BOCK BOCK! I love that... RIP Tawni's Inner Chicken, and GOOD RIDDANCE, as well. YAY! (An omelette sounds really good right now, too! Yes'm, it does.)

I love your analogies. I really do. You might say they're "great" in a sarcastic and self-loathing way, but for someone simple like me, it so helps! I get it! I do! YAY, Tawni! Yay, me! :)

I'm so stealing your advice. I have much research left to do, so many interviews, etc, before I can even BEGIN to write, at least how I think it should go. I find, though, that with each story I hear, I want to start writing THAT story and tell it to the full before I even get bogged down in someone else's story. Maybe I've looked at this book thing in the wrong way. I think yes. I think I'm going to write as I feel moved to write and let the proverbial chips fall where they may. And when this works (positive thinking will help, surely!), I'm so going to include you in my in-print thank yous!
So glad I'm not the only one suffering from creative-juice-induced insomnia. (At least, that's what I choose to blame it on! HA!) Also glad I'm not the only one who makes that situation worse by working through every thought!
Enjoy thanksgiving and being unplugged! I hope it allows you to think and process and MISS the writing... sometimes being away from it makes it sweeter when you're back...

T-Free said...

@Wendy: Thanks for reading, you amazingly talented soul, you. (Your "Don't Let It Snow" song is blowing me away today, by the way. Wow. It made me cry!)

@Becky: Thank you, sweet lady. But don't be too impressed... my drill sergeant has been a major slacker this week! I'm going to have to go all drill sergeant on my inner drill sergeant, methinks. :)

@Tanya: A poorly timed, but very lovely vacation sucked all of the productivity out of my galaxy, but I'm getting back on track. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

@Steph: Thank you. I giggle as I write my goofy analogies. I love being cheesy. Viva la queso!

Wow... I love the idea that I might have helped you write more easily with my intimidation-lessening approach to writing as chapters, rather than A BOOK. It just seems so much less scary that way, doesn't it? You can DO it! :)