:: 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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

COFFEE Project Post Twelve: Back to Baby Steps (Tawni)

In my last post, I raved about feeling much better physically than I have in a long time, and vowed to write more often, hoping to get my writing schedule back in full swing.

In order to give myself another opportunity to write, I accepted a fellow COFFEE Mate's challenge to take a photo every day. While I failed to stick with it daily, I took goofy photos with my laptop sporadically over the last few weeks, and it did end up prompting me to write personal blogs more often. It was fun. Thank you for sharing the idea, John!

After reading John's blog from yesterday, I also love the idea of a seven day project (check it out here: http://sevendayproject.blogspot.com/), and am going to be thinking about something I might like to try documenting for seven days. (Thank you again, John. You're full of great ideas!)

Lately, I've been trying to drastically cut down on the amount of time I spend on Facebook and blogs. While I enjoy talking to other grown-ups every day this way, I really feel like I spend too much time writing in the form of comments. By the time I get off the internet to work on the novel, I'm often all "written out" for the day.

It can also be psychologically draining to engage in internet discussions, depending on the subject matter, and I want to focus my energy elsewhere. So with the exceptions of this delightful COFFEE Project and The Nervous Breakdown, I will be trying to spend minimal time on the internet.

It's kind of sad to me that less internet tomfoolery must be defined as a personal goal to get myself to knock it off, but that's what this project is all about; losing unwanted habits, replacing them with desired ones, and trying new things, right?

I'm also having trouble managing my writing schedule, which has been my number one personal goal for months now. Focusing on this has definitely helped me write more, but I'm still not at my desired level of output.

I've been trying to figure out why this is proving to be so difficult for me, because I love to write. It gives me the same rush that writing a song used to give me when I played in bands, and is a wonderful creative outlet.

Some thoughts on this, and potential reasons I think I'm having trouble sticking with it:

1. I realized that I am a binge writer. I was recently reading an interview with an author I love, and the question was posed to her, Are you a disciplined or a binge writer? And it occurred to me that I am very much a binge writer. I'm a binge-creative-burst person.

When I played in bands and wrote songs, it was never disciplined. Instead, I would get a weird feeling inside, a psychic itch, if you will, that I jokingly labeled as being "songstipated." I had something I needed to say, something to get out, and until I took the time to do so, the funny feeling wouldn't go away. Writing words feels the same way. For example, my latest piece for the Nervous Breakdown, which I will link at the end of this, was written in an hour. I felt the strange inner itch, sat down, and slammed 1600 words into the computer. And it felt really, really good.

When I used to write a song, I would do the same thing. I would find time alone, sit down with the acoustic guitar, a pen, and my notebook, and the song would find its way out of me.

Figuring this out about myself made me realize that it is going to require more effort than originally planned to transform myself into the disciplined writer I would like to be. Old habits are hard to break, and my muse isn't used to being bossed around like that. She's stubborn. Like me. Which brings me to my second realization:

2. I think I may have set an overzealous daily writing goal. Writing a few hours a day has proven to be unrealistic. When I feel like I'm being manipulated or pushed to hard in a direction, even by myself, or feel like I'm failing, I do a weird rebellious, angry thing... and self-sabotage. Don't tell me what to do, Me! And, If I can't win, I refuse to play the game at all! It's ridiculous and childish, and I'm working on stopping this negative personality pattern, but at least I'm aware of it, which is more than I can say for my twenties and early thirties. It's pretty embarrassing, but I'm trying to be honest because I would really like to fix this.

And yes, I am recovering from a surgery that I'm told will make me feel tired for 3 months afterward as I continue to heal, but I am completely unwilling to allow myself to use that as an excuse for laziness. I have a very easy life.

I thought hard about it, and decided to try a kinder, gentler approach. Baby steps. Maybe if the goal doesn't seem so damned daunting, I will stick with it. And if I can stick with the mini-goal, maybe I can slowly train myself to work up into the larger one? That is my hope anyway.

So for my next attempt at facing fears and changing icky things about myself, I will be setting a goal of writing only one hour a day. One measly hour. I can handle that, right? One teeny tiny little hour of every day, including the weekends. The only restriction is that the hour must be used to work on the novel -or- for a piece for either of the two blogs for which I write, and not for what I call "Dear Diary blogging." I am only going to allow myself to write for my personal blog after I've spent an hour working on more professional pursuits.

In summation: This month I will try to come up with a seven day project to document for my next COFFEE blog, try to limit my internet socializing time to 20 minutes a day, and write on my novel or "serious" pieces for one hour every day. Wish me luck, friends!

If you'd like, you can read my latest post for The Nervous Breakdown here: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/tfreeland/2011/04/let-them-eat-cake/


Angie said...

Good luck!

And also, if I may...it's OK to be really, super-duper nice to yourself right now. You've been through a lot. :-)

Katie said...

Tawni! I so relate to the "Quit bossing me, ME!" It's such a weird feeling, but I swear it perfectly captures every false start and unfinished goal in my life. Well said. And creativity can be so hard to regulate - it feels like the opposite of creativity if you're all "well, time to spew creativity. Go." I really admire people who are able to sit down with a canvas, or a camera or a keyboard and create upon demand. It is a trick I have not learned, so my esteem for you has just kicked up a notch because you're wrestling with the beast. Good luck woman!!

And, there's a difference between laziness and RESTING. You've had major surgery. You didn't get a hangnail clipped. You had your lady junk messed with, and lady junk in a good mood can wreck a day, so I can't imagine lady junk all stirred up and irritated. In all seriousness, easy life or not, please take care of yourself and try not to push it. Before you know it, you'll have more on your plate than you remember ever having and wish for the days when you had a reason to say "hang on, I need to rest!"

And I like the adopting of mini-goals. Very sensible. Can't wait to see how it goes!

amy said...

Oh man, Tawni. I so hear you on the facebook thing. And the blog commenting. It leaves me feeling written out, too (also, it usually leaves me heading to bed at 12 midnight and so sleep deprivation is bad, too).

And! I'm binge writer, too. It's pretty much how I approach life--I like to take it in binges, with long, hard falls. And I always feel so guilty when I read writers who give advice like: "You must write every day to become a good writer. Every day! If you aren't writing every day, you're not doing it right!"

So then I think: well, fine. So I'll just count blog commenting, smarmy and overly long emails to friends, the occasional weird personal blog entry as my daily writing, and various scenarios to possible stories that exist only in my head. Which means I write a lot. I just don't write all of it down, or in story form. It's that binge factor thing, yes! I'm so glad I have a term for it now (and a fellow binger to commiserate with).

Good luck on the 20 minute limit stuff, the 7 day project (I agree: totally cool concept), serious writing for one hour every day! Awesome and admirable goals and I am pulling for you to have great success with each one. (I am also planning to possibly borrow them once my crazy work life relaxes. They are that awesome and admirable!)

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

The best of rock star vibes being sent your way T-Free! I think you are right on track, and sometimes, binge writing is just the right stuff. You rock. Hope you keep feeling better and better and BETTER!!

Steph said...

I think it's so great that you've clarified your writing goals, Tawni!!! And the fact that you're so aware of what zaps your creative juices and your writing is just incredible! Knowing what you need to do to accomplish your goals is what it's all about!
Can't wait to see your 7-Day stuff, and I have so enjoyed your Nervous Breakdown posts. Thanks for the linkage, Tawni COFFEE! Keep up the good work!

P.S. I SOOOOOO love the new profile pic!

patresa said...

wow tawni. thank you. this clarified a lot of my own junk, too. aside from recuperating from surgery, i related to every single word of this.

i like that "binge writer" description. never thought of it like that, but so true.

i like your 1-hour a day writing goal, too. DOABLE! yes!

did you post your self-portraits somewhere?

write like the wind, tawni! write like the 1-hour/day wind!