You may--or more likely may not--have noticed that I posted nothing last week. It was entirely intentional and it felt a bit weird. I didn't take the week off for my birthday, which was Friday, May 11. Nor did I take a break because it was Mothers Day on Sunday, May 13. My reason for leaving last week's blog blank was, as my husband would say, "Such a Jana thing to do".
(Sort of like my trademark one-eyed-wink which for some reason has fascinated family and friends for generations.)
You see, I often set specific goals for myself, simply to prove that I can do it. Once I reach the goal, I move on. For example, when my son enlisted in the Air Force, I looked at the physical requirements for women to pass Basic Military Training. I set the goal to work my way up to 18 push-ups in one minute, which seems easy...if you're not starting from zero push-ups per day.
I actually trained for 34 push-ups in two minutes based on some online advice. It took me a month to accomplish the goal. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt proud.
I haven't done a real set of push-ups since.
Other past examples of small, mental-challenge-goal-setting have been:
This short-term goal-setting is my modus operandi.
My first blog post was on May 1, 2017. I had decided to start writing a blog as a way to pressure myself into writing consistently. Consistent writing, according to every writer's blog ever written, is the only way to become a real writer.
I set the goal of writing a blog post every week for an entire year, and then I'd re-evaluate. As of May 1, 2018, I have accomplished my goal. I have not missed a single Sunday of blog posts, no sick days, no holidays, no vacations. At least 52 entries, by my count. Goal achieved.
What did I learn?
The most important thing I learned is that I am not the kind of writer who can sit down and crank out 1000 words a day unless I am truly inspired. I found it easy to do when writing my novels, but I need the fire in my belly. I not only need the story idea, but I need the overwhelming urge to get it out of my head and onto the page. It comes down to two different kinds of urgency. The deadline kind and the I'm-going-to-explode-if-I-don't-write-this-down kind.
I write for the latter.
So, what's next?
I'm not planning to abandon this blog space completely. It felt strange to skip last week and I think it will feel weird to have no self-imposed deadline. I may still post here and there, when an idea hits that I need to express. This blog is valuable to me in that it provides a place for my non-fiction ideas, a place for me to speak as a writer to whoever wants to listen.
I have several story ideas jumbling around in my head and have written them into my Ideas Notebook in the form of little blurbs. New story ideas and vignettes and characters come to me on a frequent basis. I write raw poetry almost every day. I have a few ideas for children's picture books. I'm always thinking about writing.
I began writing in earnest when my youngest child entered Kindergarten in 2006. Looking back, I have been working on writing projects consistently for twelve years. I have published three novels (between 2011 and 2017) and two children's poetry books. It may not seem like a lot compared to some writers who crank out several novels a year, but that's not me.
What I lack at the moment is urgency. Whether it's because of age, or my status as an almost-empty-nester, or some other factor, I just know that I miss that feeling. If I'm being honest, the sense of urgency is like a drug, the "writer's high", if you will.
For now, I wait. I know it will come. I need to give it space to return. When it does, you will be the first to know. For now, patience is the key...for all of us.
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I write novels and poetry and this blog.