Sometimes it pays to hit the ‘reset’ button.
The two weeks we spent in Europe recently was the first time I’ve taken an extended break from blogging since I began over two years ago. It was a little scary because I didn’t want to get out of the habit of writing every day, but it was also a great opportunity to sit back and reevaluate my writing life.
I started blogging here over two years ago as a way to develop a daily writing habit. Then it grew into something more; a way to write about our style of learning so that others might be inspired, informed & possibly even benefit from it, and also to express my views about random things I enjoy (or don’t enjoy).
And it is fantastic. I love blogging. You write it, you hit publish, and there it is. It might not be perfect, but it’s out there. People can read it. The pay generally sucks, but the instant gratification makes up for that in a big way. Writing is a very solitary and often lonely process, at least until such point as your efforts are picked up, published and offered to the world. Which can take years. Blogging solves all that, except for one thing.
Those two finished manuscripts awaiting re-writes that are currently languishing on my computer? They aren’t going to edit themselves, and it is starting to bug me.
See, I don’t want to be that person who is always writing but never finishing; always talking about their book but never pitching it, never sending queries. And my kids know about the books, so what kind of example is it to be the slacker parent who can’t finish what they started?
That’s not the person I want to be, and not what I envisioned when I started this whole blogging adventure.
So what to do? Giving up the blog would be torture – I enjoy it too much and also feel an obligation to those of you who do read it and have expressed your own enjoyment thereof – you have no idea how much that means to me. Actually, that’s the other thing. Writing every day for a blog means that people will know when you skip a day; when working on a novel, the only person who knows when I skip a day is me. So there is a good kind of pressure involved in blogging.
I considered posting my fiction work in a sort of serial format as a path to working on it every day and before sending it to agents, but I’m not quite that brave. (And will agents hate the fact that it’s already been ‘published’? Not sure – still looking into it.)
So I’m trying for a compromise. They say it takes 21 days of consistent effort to change a habit. From my own experience it’s closer to 14. (Those of you who know me personally will be shocked to hear that after two weeks in Europe I have ditched my Starbucks habit and instead bought a Nespresso machine to make my own espresso/cappuccino at home. We’ve been back almost two weeks and I have had exactly 3 latte’s from Starbucks, and all of those came the weekend after the hurricane…)
Next up is shifting the writing habit so that it emphasizes fiction over blogging. I’m not going to commit to any particular ratio at this point but if I miss a day or two on the blog (here or at unschoolingnyc) you’ll know I’m still at the computer working on a longer project. One that involves quite a bit of delayed gratification. And if I get really brave, I may share some of it with you as I go along.
Here’s to a change of habit, and finishing what you start.