Thursday, October 22, 2015

a thing...


I turned 34 earlier this month. A nondescript, in between age. That's what I'm finding 30's to be. It's a good age for settling in, and coming to terms with who you are. What your beliefs are. What you stand for. It's a good age for  knowing what you are not. It's an even better age to throw out preconceived ideas, boxes you've put yourself in, and regimented thought. 

Ever since I was young I said I wasn't morning person. I'd wake up early, feel sick to my stomach if I ate anything, or if I didn't, and would be so. damn. tired. all day long. And so I stayed in bed. 

Long story short, after much trial and error I found my sweet spot for waking: 5am. Who knew. I certainly would never have guessed. Of course there are set backs, and some mornings I sleep through the alarm, but for the most part, 5-7am has been my time each day. I make a pot of tea and wake up with words on the screen and try to write my daily allotment on my novel.  I hear Lucas in the shower and he comes down and kisses me goodbye before he heads off to work. The kids slowly wake and make their way downstairs, their edges are all soft and they smell like sleep and morning breath. Big hugs and kisses and our day begins. 

Yesterday I struggled through half of my word count goal. And then I said screw it, I'll try to carve time out in the afternoon. The day went on, and I didn't worry about writing, as I normally do when I don't have the morning time, and I actually sat down and wrote in the afternoon. And you know what? I wrote more than I normally do in an hour of morning writing. The quantity AND the quality was better, there was no struggle to come up with words - not because I was in a groove, but because I was awake

One of the frustrations that I have with morning writing is that by the time I'm fully awake, and can get into a groove, my two hours - and the kids - are up. I enjoy the morning hours, being the sole one awake and the quiet of the house, the slowness of waking instead of being suddenly woken by children who talk from the moment they wake until they go to sleep. But... my brain is still so foggy in the pre dawn hours. I think I'd have to get up at 4 in order to get my brain to be awake enough to work the way I want to each  morning. 

Yesterday afternoon, after realizing the whole quantity and quality of daytime writing thing, a lightbulb went off. I'm forever trying to have my actions be a thing. I'm forever trying to have a thing. A qualified, legitimate, routine and time and place that I can call out and say "This! This is mine, this is the thing I do, I'm for real." 

And I meet my goals, but never exceed them, because that's simply my personality. I met the goal, I did the thing, now I can stop. 

Huh.

I think I've been doing that for the majority of my 34 years. 

And as soon as that thing doesn't work, I throw it aside and move on to the next thing. 

Luckily I've stuck with this writing stuff through many routines that have each been a thing. That alone makes me realize that writing is my calling. Even if it's hard, and even if it's not always fruitful or fun, and even though there is no certainty of a positive outcome other than that it makes me happy. 

But these things... this need to label and categorize and put limitations and constrictions on the time that I work... it's all so inflexible I could scream. And it doesn't mean anything. Having something be a thing doesn't legitimize anything, or make it more important or worthy than anything else.

So I'm taking back my flexibility. I'm going to pull some yoga moves within my writing and stretch when I need to stretch and breathe into it when the time is right and write what comes up in the morning {foggy morning brain is perfect for journal writing and blog posts!} but I'm going to carve space where I can throughout the rest of the day for fiction. Some mornings I'll be awake enough to write first thing in the morning, but I'm taking the pressure off of myself for writing within a certain time frame. It will get done. I'm sure of it. Because it must, and I know this. 

If nothing else, I've learned in the last 34 that I enjoy the concept of structure, but it limits me. I like the idea of structure, and the idea of regimented routines, but I flow much better with rhythm. With an ease and an ebb and flow according to what my daily needs are. In everything. From homeschooling to my writing life to meal planning. When something is a thing, I strive to keep up with it for the sake of keeping up with it, not because it serves me well. 

Flexibility does not come easily to me, by nature. But it's time to practice it. To hone the skill. Not because it's a thing, but because it serves me well. 

7 comments:

  1. I need structure. A schedule. That's my "thing" I need to know what's coming next, what I'm doing next, to have everything fit nice & neat in little calendar boxes. And when things don't I get anxious, frustrated. And yet all the sudden lately those calendar boxes are making me anxious. I want to write in the afternoon? But that's not my writing time. I want to write after the girls are in bed? That's not my time. Flexibility doesn't feel good to me....but I need to let go of my ccontrol over schedules and work on arhythm. That ebb & flow you speak about? I'm not good at the flow because I'm not sure where it will lead me. But I yearn deeply for a creative life. And I am slowly realizing that my creativity cannot fit into a calendar box. I cannot fit into a box. I need to let my creativity flow....when IT wants to. Your words opened up a bit of my box this morning. Thank you <3

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  2. I like this new "thing" you are on to. :) I have certain routines around my writing, but the writing itself is more catch as catch can, when inspiration or momentum or focus strikes, I sit down and do it. It's not always at the most convenient time, but it seems to mostly be working for me. The only caveat is if I am writing for someone else (like some of the freelancing I do); I have to force myself into a time slot for that or else I just keep putting it off. Love this post--and hearing about your journey with writing.

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  3. So true about your 30's coming to terms with who you are and who you are not. I'm finding the same thing. I've also, like you, come to realize I really like my morning time. College? I would regularly sleep until 2pm. But now I prefer to be awake by 8 at the latest. I've discovered waking at 4:30 to hit the gym is a great feeling, and when I was working on my grad degree I was getting up at 5 and coming to school to work in my office. There's nothing quite like a silent, empty school in the morning.

    Very nice post!

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  4. I admire your will. Flexibility will serve you well and from reading this post I feel you are learning what works best for you. You are showing up and doing the work and that's great.

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  5. I can totally relate about thinking that my actions, my practices, my way of life has to be "a thing" based on a specific rule or a clear cut routine. That they have to become a solidified, permanent practice that is rehearsed over and over again, less I feel that I'm not doing it right. I used to use my morning time wholly dedicated to writing, whether I felt like it or not. Lately, though, I've been using it in any way that I wish...writing, reading, searching for lessons, or even catching up on a Netflix show. Thanks so much for sharing your experience -from one 34 year old to another. ;) It so helps to hear how others wrestle with their own barriers and come out the other side!

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  6. I have to admit - I totally suffer from morning writer envy. There's something so peaceful and romantic about it...BUT I was not made for mornings and I can't force creativity. I decided to be okay with where I find my mojo - that perhaps night can be peaceful and romantic too...and I'm glad to know others are finding their own way as well. We don't need 'a thing' but we all need to 'do something'!

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  7. I love the idea of your habit, you know, of having those "working hours" I found that I needed different types of writing time. Like at night I can write and write and write but it needs a lot of editing. I can edit better in the morning but writing in the morning is a lot harder for me. I think it's good to know yourself. To do what works in this season. You are so inspiring.

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