Category “Game Plan”

Time For A Time Out.

This project has always been ambitious.  Big undertaking, tight deadline, less-than-ideal working environment.  Even with my recent modification to the game plan, it’s still a lot to get done in not a lot of time.  Every day counts.

But not this week.  This week I’m calling a time-out.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this week I’m on vacation.  Our first one since Lil Mil arrived.  There are mountains to ski, glasses of wine to drink, and conversations – the real, in person, talking-really-talking kind – to have.  A milestone to celebrate.  Two little girls to snuggle.  Moments with family I don’t want to miss.

And so, as planned, I’m taking a time-out for the week.  I’m going to force myself to be present here, now.  To enjoy the beauty of the Rockies and the blessing of family.  To reflect on 30 and beyond.

I’d tell you that I’m not going to write at all while I’m here, but that’d be a lie.  I can’t not write about this.  This trip, this mountain, these moments.  I can’t not post on my birthday.  I have no idea what I’m going to say (does AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! count as a blog post?), but I know me – I’ll feel compelled to say something.

So my time-out is sort of a pseudo time-out.  Like those two minutes of “flat road” in Spinning class.  A break that’s not really a break.  A psychological fake-out.

Hey, whatever works.

(You might have noticed that there’s no “Day #__” at the top of this post.  That’s because I’m stopping the clock this week. Monday’s post was Day #36.  Next Monday’s post will be Day #37.  Sixty-three days to go. )

Taking The Scenic Route (Day #31)

Posted in: Game Plan, PARALLEL

So I made a decision.

It wasn’t an easy one.

When I started this project, the goal was to complete my novel in 12 weeks.  The first 12 weeks of my baby’s life.  “The length of a standard maternity leave,” I said.

I liked this parallel.  Its symmetry.  I liked the prospect of accomplishing something big and lofty during what was supposed to be my “time off.” My time off would be time on, I declared. I embraced this idea with every ounce of my pre-baby being.  I plotted.  I planned.  I set goals and made rules.

I could do this.

I would do this.

I am doing this.

But things have come up.  Life has come up.  Parents have visited.  Sister has visited.  And next week, Husband, Lil Mil and I will take our first family trip.

Yes, these are excuses.  I am making excuses because I feel guilty about the decision I’ve made.

I’ve decided to quit.

If you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention.

No, I haven’t decided to quit.  I’m having too much fun to quit.  I have, however, decided to modify my goal.  Just a bit.  Just enough.  To give myself a little more margin.  To cut myself a little slack.

I’ve decided to let my 12-week challenge be a 100-day challenge instead.

In the end, I’m only adding 16 days.  A little over two weeks.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing.  Not even worth mentioning, maybe.

So why does it feel like such a big deal?  Why do I feel like I’m wimping out?  (Could it be because I am?)

Okay, stop.  Time out.  This right here?  This glaring disconnect between what I feel like I should be capable of and what I actually think I can do?  This is motherhood.  For me.  This has been the essence of my experience thus far.

I think I can do X.  I try to do X.  I quickly discover that I can only do Y.  But I want to do X.  I keep trying to do X.  Yet I know I can only do Y.  I feel the need to make excuses for why I can’t do X.  I hate these excuses.  And yet.  I know I can only do Y.

It’s humbling.  And annoying.  And sorta … liberating.

So.  New Game Plan.  New schedule.  New goal.  100 days instead of 84.  14.3 weeks instead of 12.

Use the Game Plan Button on the righthand sidebar, or click HERE for the details.  Since I’m in a revising mode, I welcome your suggestions on how I could make my plan better (as long as you don’t tell me to abandon it completely).

For those of you who are into the nuts and bolts of this thing, check out my Month One Progress Report.  Yes, I am behind schedule.  But I will catch up.

I can do this.

I will do this.

I am doing this.

(Are you experiencing a disconnect between what you feel like you should be capable of and what you’re actually able to do?  Do you think I’m a wimp?   Are my excuses lame?  Speaking of excuses, check out “The Perils of Justifying Yourself” on Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth.)

Redefining Rest (Day #29)

If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know about my no-writing on Sundays rule – my attempt to observe a weekly Sabbath while in the midst of this I-can’t-spare-a-minute endeavor.  I didn’t create this rule lightly.  I know myself.  I know that resting isn’t easy for me.  I know that when forced to rest, I suffer from a very intense case of yes-but-I-could-be-doing-this! syndrome.

But I wanted to keep a Sabbath.  I wanted to remind myself – weekly – that despite my passion and enthusiasm and commitment to this project, what I am attempting is beyond me.  It’s more than I can do.  I wanted to observe a day of rest as an acknowledgment that I am dependent on God.  In this.  In everything.

Yesterday was Day #28.  Sabbath #4.  The last day of what had been my most productive week so far.

The first Sunday of Lent.

The lenten season has special significance to my writing career (that is, if you can call something no one pays you to do a “career”).  Three years ago, I was struggling with how to make writing a part of my routine.  I wanted to write daily.  I wanted to write, period.  But I was billing 12+ hour days.  Writing was a luxury I couldn’t afford.

Yet, I felt this yearning that wouldn’t go away.  This sense that I was supposed to be writing – whatever that meant.  And so, on Ash Wednesday 2007, I gave up my “freedom not to write.”  I declared my commitment to write daily for the 40 days of Lent.  And I did.

I’ve been writing daily ever since.

I sincerely believe that my life would be different today had I not made (and kept) that Lenten promise.  It was during those 40 days that I became a writer.  Thus began a journey – a passion pursuit! – that has brought me to this moment and this new challenge.  Quite literally, in fact.  I spent the 2007 Lenten season working on a pilot script – my very first.  Three years later, that script has become a novel.

Okay, so back to yesterday.  Sabbath day.  After such a productive week, I should have embraced the day off.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t want to rest.  I wanted to write!  Not because I felt pressure to be productive, but because I didn’t want to lose the momentum I’d spent the previous six days building.  I was on a roll.  Ideas were flowing.  More important, words were flowing.  And my little girl was in a fantastic, relatively un-moany mood.

I could not afford to spare a day.  Not this day, at least.

And so, I did what I do best.  I began to rationalize.  If I’m doing something that brings me joy, then isn’t that a form of rest?  If I don’t feel like I’m working, then maybe it doesn’t count.

But then, another voice.  A quieter one.  You’re missing the point.

In the end, my cursor didn’t move.  It’s still blinking in the exact same spot I left it on Saturday afternoon.

Instead, I read some blog posts.  I read the Bible.  I sent some long overdue talking-really-talking emails.  I responded to your comments.  I talked to Lil Mil.  I ate a very tasty BLT.

Do these things count as rest?  I don’t know.  They felt like rest to me.

You’re missing the point.

I know.

Last On The List (Day #16)

Posted in: Game Plan, Writing

Today was a good day.  A productive day.  My most productive so far, in fact.

As predicted, it rained all day (hard).  And as promised, I refused to let this keep me at home.  So despite the downpour, Lil Mil and I ventured out.  We went to Starbucks.  We went to the bookstore.  We  visited a close friend who has a new baby.  We spent an hour on the 405.

And yet, sometime between all of that, I managed to get four hours of writing done.

Was it just because I was busy?  Did I merely find the right balance of work and non-work?

I think that’s part of it.  But I think there’s another reason the book got so much of my attention today.

I didn’t write a blog post.

Yup, that’s right.  ”Today” isn’t really today.  Today is supposed to refer to Tuesday, but really it’s already Wednesday morning.

I didn’t write a blog post yesterday because I was too busy being busy.  Oh, and writing my book.  Which is the point of this project anyway.

I realized yesterday that my book has gotten the short end of the stick.  Among the three B’s, sweet little unwritten book — the impetus behind this whole ETD undertaking — has been pushed to the bottom of the list.  Baby then blog then book.  That’s been my priority list for the past sixteen days.

I love this blog.  But it can’t come before my book.

So what does that mean?  I’m not sure.  I still want to post every day.  And I think I should, because I think it’s good for me.  I think it makes me a better writer.  And although it’s only been a few weeks, I’ve come to depend on this community.  On you, and your voices.  Our daily conversation.

But.  Something’s gotta give.

And so, I guess what I’m saying is:  we’ll see.  We’ll see what happens when I put book before blog.  We’ll see what happens when I chose not to say all I want to say here so that I can say more there.

Refreshed and Revised (Day #6)

Well, I made it.  It’s Saturday, the last work day of my first Embrace the Detour work week.  I feel… good.  Tired, but only on the outside.  On the inside, I feel oddly refreshed.  I say oddly because I have never been a person who operates well on less than 8 hours of sleep, and this week sleep has been noticeably absent from my (non-) schedule.

And yet.

I’ve been creative.  I’ve been (relatively) productive.  And best of all, I’m gaining momentum.  I feel myself ramping up for more – more ideas, more pages, more progress.

I’m in the zone.  And I have my daughter to thank for it.

When I started this project, I thought that having a baby around was going to make writing more difficult.  I had it wrong.  Having a baby around makes finding the time to write more difficult.  But the writing itself comes easier.  Ideas flow freer.  Inspiration abounds.

I’ve found my muse.

She’s tiny and cute and hungry all the time.  And she inspires me like nothing else.

That’s not to say that this week has been easy.  I’m still getting adjusted to Life with a Newborn, still figuring out how to balance baby and book and blog and being a mom, and I suspect it’ll be quite some time before I have a handle on things.  But that’s okay for now.  My muse and I, we’ll find our way (with Husband’s help – he’s better with maps).

In the meantime, I’ve got work to do.  Eleven weeks to go.  Twelve chapters to write.  I’ve gotta keep on keepin’ on.

And so, at midnight tonight, I’ll press pause for 24 hours, and then I’ll be back, ready to tackle Week #2.

For those of you interested in the hard numbers, I offer my Week #1 progress report, a brutally honest summary of how much I accomplished (not that much), how many rules I broke (two), and how many rules I’ve decided to abandon (one).  Oh, and I’ve revised my game plan accordingly.

Sure, I wish there were more checkmarks and fewer x’s.  I wish I were ahead of schedule instead of slightly behind. But at the end of the day (or, in this case, my inaugural week), I’ve decided to embrace the idea that this project, like its author, will always be a work-in-progress.

“Half my life is an act of revision.” - John Irving