Writing Is Like Cleaning The Toilet

I’m having resistance posting on this blog.

So let me remind myself why I set this as a year-end goal in the first place. What was my why for this one? Frankly, I don’t remember. But my 3 main reasons for starting any project are:

1. To see if I can endure or persist over time.

2. To gain some new knowledge or skill.

3. To reduce an irritant.

Which box does blogging regularly check?

Probably persistence, but that’s not the real why.

I think it has more to do with my fear of being judged unkindly.

I need to find a way of defanging this self-limiting belief. I need to tell myself another story, one that will have me approaching the writing of the blog with interest and enthusiasm. Now I approach it like cleaning the toilet. It has to be done, but I don’t want to do it.

I think I am delusional. What I mean by that is I think I can achieve things without doing work.

I am work averse. I believe in magic. Magically, this will happen and I won’t have to suffer. Work makes me question the worth of everything.

“You are defined by what you are willing to struggle for.”

This is a tenet of stoicism. I believe it. It explains a lot of my lack of self-definition. Who am I? What am I willing to struggle for?

I honestly don’t know.

As a young woman, my motivating struggle was freedom and autonomy. I needed to get free of my suffocating family. But once that happened, I still wasn’t free. I was free of them, as people, but I still bore the wounds of bad or non-existent parenting.

Low self-esteem, being the major wound.

Needing to be seen. Another one.

Needing approval. That, too.

So the blogging meets my need to be seen. And sometimes I get positive feedback and that meets my need for approval. But it’s the crippling low self-esteem that creates the avoidance and the resistance when it comes to posting something. The writing has to have a point. And sometimes, or most of the time, what I write seems pointless. Or no. Not pointless, just irrelevant and boring. It’s not helpful. Except to me.

So I figured a positive motivational ploy would be to tell myself there is value in showing people what it looks like to set goals and struggle to achieve them. That a blog devoted to that would have a point. It might even be helpful.

There might be a few people who would enjoy watching the on-going saga of a how a projects develops, thrives or dies. And that’s what I would show here. Show your work, as Austin Kleon advises.

I wish I could say that this articulated blog mission has cured my resistance, but it hasn’t. So far. Maybe I just need a few more thousand repetitions of the mantra: Show your work, show your work.

Self-limiting beliefs are hard to exorcise.

This is what I am currently working on.

How Not Writing a Novel During National Novel Writing Month Made Me A Better Writer

 I don’t write novels. Never have. Never will. But every year since 2011 I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I’ve won it 5 out of those 8 years.

This was a winning year. I validated last Friday and high-fived myself.

I do it mainly to increase my stamina and endurance as a writer. I think of it like treadmill running. It gets me in shape for winter, and the introspective writing months to come.

I hop on Scrivener, set my word goal, and just crank. I get winded, I stall out a lot, but I know I have to hit that 1667 daily word count daily, or else tomorrow there’ll be a deficit to make up.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over 8 years of doing this crazy game, it’s that catch-up is a bitch.    

Doing NaNo has taught me tons about how I roll as a writer.

I have learned, for instance, that I am definitely not a coffee shop writer. (I lost the year I tried that.)

And that even though I’m entranced with fountain pens and Moleskines, they are not conducive to serious output, and positively discourage editing.

I have also learned that for me, the best soundtrack for writing is no soundtrack. I require silence to hear the music of my mind. One year I made a playlist on Spotify and I lost that year. And now, every time I hear any of those songs, I get slightly nauseous.

But I have also discovered how I do work best:

First, I need exercise. I do what I call my “Campus Scamper”—a brisk 3 mile hill and step-infested walk around campus.  

Next, I  buy or make a large Americano which I take up to my cozy lair, aka, my bedroom.

If it’s cold out, I turn on the little space heater. I need warmth to write.

I then fire up the diffuser with 4 drops of Eucalyptus Radiata and 4 drops of Helichrysm essential oils. This is my magic “brain blend.” As soon as I smell that, I want to write.

I sit down in my Space Chair and fire up Scrivener, the best writing app in the world, set my 1667 word goal, and crank for as long as it takes.  Ideally, all this goodness happens at the same time every day. For me that time is within 4 hours of getting up. Because after lunch my brain goes offline. 

I love and look forward to this ritual.

This year I called my not-a-novel The Yoga of Everything 2.0.  

Here are some of the things I wrote about:

I wrote about the yoga of boredom, and the yoga of dog training and the yoga of cleaning.  

I tried to figure out the artistry of Haruki Murakami, and I analyzed The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. 

I pondered the point of blogging, and the point of, well, everything.

I beta tested a “metta” project where I telepathically sent a “May you be happy” message to every person I passed on my walk, and tracked the results.

I wrote about signals and all the ways people signal to one another. 

I wrote about paint colors for the dining room

 I asked myself “why?”with an obsession that bordered on neuroticism. 

So now I have 50 thousand words to mine in the coming months for little blog posts and essays. The brain dump is over, the resistance monster has been slain. I’m feeling strong and have honed my endurance. 

I feel in shape and ready for those long winter writing sessions.

I’m even looking forward to them. 

Another NaNoWriMo in the books.

Boo-yah.

Year-End Goals

Year-end goals

I’m now in the home stretch in NaNoWriMo. I’ve no doubt I’ll finish. I have 7K words to go and 3 days to finish, so even though it’s going to be a bit of a crank, if I know anything, it’s how to crank.  

Afterwards, I’ll celebrate, then report here on how it went for me this year. 

I’ve decided that’s what this blog is going to be about from now on: me giving a weekly report on my projects.

I like this use of a blog because I can use it as an accountability tool. 

I’m an Obliger. I need to be held accountable.

There’s only a month left in this year. For some reason, this thought shocks me.  

The other day I decided on some year-end goals.

They are:

1. Win NaNoWriMo

2. Compile my classes and spiral-bind them.

3. Learn 2 new Scrivener skills.

4. Learn to make a spreadsheet in Excel.

5. Blog twice a week, until the end of the year. 

6. Put 6 little notes in the mail each week.

Here are the 3 types of projects I like to take on:

Some sort of endurance challenge where I have to complete something hard over time.

Something that gives me a new skill or new knowledge.

Something that makes my life easier by reducing an irritant.

Right now, winning NaNo is my endurance challenge. Learning Scrivener and Excel will up my skills game. Compiling my classes will definitely make my my life tons easier. I’ll finally be able to locate the hundreds of sequences I’ve compiled over the years.

The blogging and the notes projects represent things I resist. I don’t know why, so I’ll need to think about that, get to the bottom of it.

So that’s the plan for this blog going forward.

Now though, I have to crank words. Next post: How I Won NaNoWriMo in 2018.

Giving Up Procrastination For Lent

Drowning man

I was going to do something for Lent, but never got around to deciding what.

I don’t want to “give up” anything; I want to add something.

I want a new challenge, a new activity, a new project.

I did the digital declutter in January and started a book club in February, now I really need something for March.

I could (re)commit to Edna’s O (my new reference book about endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide, serotonin and oxytocin) and say: FIRST DRAFT: By Easter I’ll have a first draft.

I could do that, but it doesn’t meet one of my Project-Driven Life criteria for a new project. It doesn’t check the “excitement” box.  And it really needs to. Or else I’m not going to be happy.

At the same time, I also realize that happiness isn’t a requirement for a worthwhile and enriching project.

I realize too that happiness requires struggle. (I wholly subscribe to that Stoic tenant. I do.)

But, I also need stim every day, even painful stim, if necessary. I want to feel as amped doing my work, as I will for having done it.

And truthfully?  This research really does excite me —once I’m in hip deep. So why all this sissy toe-dangling at the beginning? All this reluctance to get wet?

Once I’m in I know I’ll be fine, happy as a clam in fact. But it’s the anticipation of that head-hitting-the-water dive into the deep end every day that stops me, that fuels my procrastination. That’s the real struggle, not the actual work.

So I resist. But not for the next 6 weeks. No!  For the next 6 weeks I’m going to slay the resistance monster, make it numero uno on my To-Do List every day.

Might also be a good time to re-read The War of Art, and find an accountability partner.

Any takers?

My Experience Publishing with CreateSpace

I did it. I published my book, The Project-Driven Life: How To Figure Out What You Want To Be When You Grow Up. It’s available now on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle edition now.

I am so happy.

High Resolution Front Cover.5747969

If you’ve ever thought about self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace, here’s what I did, and why, and what my experience was like.

But first, a little backstory.

I really resisted publishing this. Getting my work out there was a big, fat, scary, hairy deal for me. I didn’t want to risk criticism, or people hating it, or even worse, ignoring it.

So when I was finally ready to pull the trigger, I had to make some decisions.

I knew I was going to go with CreateSpace because I had worked with them before, back when they were called Booksurge.

I had a good experience with them back in 2008 when I helped a friend, who had no computer skills, publish his book with them, and it was easy.

Sadly, he died before he saw his book in print, but his widow told me to spare no expense and just get it out there so all his friends could buy it on Amazon.

So she paid for copy editing and marketing, and a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t even remember now.

But you don’t have to pay at all with CreateSpace.  You can totally publish your book for free.

You can do your own formatting, your own copy editing. You can upload your own cover art and write your own marketing copy.

But I hate all that. I hate Word and if I had to eff around with it to get my formatting all neat and clean, my stupid little book would be still sitting in Scrivener.

I’m not a bad writer, but even I knew my copy wasn’t squeeky clean.

And as for cover art? Jesus. No way.

Marketing copy and SEO and all that stuff?  I wish I was good at it, but I’m not.

I went in and calculated how much I would have to pay CreateSpace to do all that stuff and make my scary hairy project something that didn’t look like a dog’s dinner, which it most certainly would have if I was in charge of all that stuff.

If I was ready to do this, and if this might be the very last thing I would have the nads to put out there, what was it worth to me to have it done all spiffy and pro?

You can go in and calculate all their pro services on the site. One round of copy editing, Pro formatting, 2 Pro covers to pick from, marketing and Kindle conversion totalled a grand.

I sat on it.

I could do my own copy editing. I could dink around in Word and format. I could take a photo for the cover and overlay the right font onto it and pick fonts for front and back and inside, and write the back cover and the Amazon description and tag it all up on my own.

I could. I really could. I could spend another 6 months to a year learning new skills, but the question was: Would I?

And the answer was a resounding, no.

I would not. I had not the time, nor, more importantly, the interest, in doing any of those things. It took all I could do to finish the damn thing and I really didn’t want to deal with it any more.

So I paid. And I am so happy I did.

 

The whole process was a dream. I got an editorial letter telling me where my tone went off the rails, and I got to fix it. I had so many copy editing mistakes it was embarrassing , frankly.

I got to fix them all.

The pro formatting turned out so nice.

I was initially going to go with just one cover concept but was urged to go for the Premium package where they design 2 and you get to pick the one you like best, and I was SO HAPPY I did that because one of the covers was not what I was going for at all.

But I think the very best money I spent was on the Marketing. Marketing is such a skilled art, and their writers totally nailed it.

Yeah, I paid, but I got way more than I ever hoped for. And it was a pleasure to deal with them.

So if you have some money to throw at your book project, I would say: go for it. Definitely get the copy editing and definitely get the Marketing. Best money I ever spent.

 

 

Full Moon In Capricorn tomorrow

I don’t usually pay too much attention to lunar cycles, but this caught my eye because, 1) I am a Capricorn, and 2) tomorrow is July 1st and I am devoting the entire month to finishing my book.

Initially, I scheduled vacations and weekends off from writing, but I realized that I don’t have the time to take off. It’s going to be a push to get it all written in a month. I want all the writing  done by July 31st, which, crazily enough, will feature yet another full moon. The second full moon in  a month is called a Blue Moon. How auspicious is that, right?

Check out the following elephant journal article about what this full moon means:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/full-moon-in-capricorn-get-ready-for-fireworks/

Today I was working on the structure of the book and I have always known certain things.

First: It is going to be a short book. Really short.  It is tentatively called Living a Project Driven Life and I am modeling it on Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. There won’t be the graphical features of Kleon’s book because I’m not graphical like that, but it will be a small book, with the content chunked out in sections rather than chapters.

If you are a writer, you will sympathize with how difficult it is to write  “short,” meaning, with economy and precision.

“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had  time to make it shorter.” ~Blais Pascal

That’s mainly why I resist my work so much.

I have also made the decision to to write my book here , in this blog, in a series of posts over the next 31 days.  I have already written some posts that I have scattered here and there throughout this blog that are sections of this book,  but starting tomorrow, I am going to see if I can chunk out 300 word sections and post them here. Since I already have the daily posting momentum going, it will be easy just to post what I have worked on all morning and not have to think of alternate content every day.

What this means for you as readers of this blog, is that you can avail yourself of my system if you want, and see if it meets any of your needs, or adds value to your life.

Either way your feedback will be invaluable.

Doing it this way will be so good for me because it will give me someone to talk to, an audience who I already know and trust. I feel comfortable talking to you. You are like friends. Talking to you will help me with my tone.

So tomorrow it begins. I hope the Full Moon in Capricorn brings you a month of prosperity and fireworks, too.

Namaste.

 

Writing to Know

This is my 126th post in a row. It’s getting hard now. My goal with this blog, ultimately,  is to write content that adds value to the reader somehow.

I don’t even know what that means. When it comes to a blog like this, which is not really a yoga blog, or a food blog, it’s kind of a “lifestyle” blog. It’s the lifestyle of a yoga teacher, meditator, and writer, living with her partner and Corgi in small-town rural America. (The scenes on TV of where they were looking for the  recent escaped inmates  at Dannemora look a lot like  around here.)

I am writing to figure out what my natural themes are. My hope is that I will write myself toward enlightenment. I want to drop crumbs and then go back and retrace where I’ve been.

Eventually, I would like to post only once a week. This posting every day is a game to see if to see if  I can cut my chops, to practice persistence and stamina. It’s also to see what I write when I have nothing to say.

Like tonight.

I feel resolutions coming on.