Set Backs or Channeling the Turtle

Setbacks suck.

I have been having a great year so far. Having a four day weekend to start the year off with helped a lot in getting some headway on my writing goals. I’ve written over a thousand words every day since 2016 started. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today.

Sometimes when we’re going forward, we trip. And it sucks because no matter how far we might have come, it’s difficult to remember our progress because we’re too busy spitting dirt out of our mouths.

For example, I over slept Saturday and Sunday before, missing my ‘up by 5:30am’ self-imposed ‘Up-Time’ on Days 31 and 32 of my ‘Write-Every-Day’ challenge.

I’ve always struggled with perfectionism. It paralyses me, this deep, inner belief that I have to not just, DO the thing I attempt, but also be the Best and most Perfect at that thing.

So on Saturday and Sunday when I overslept, I was feeling very grumpy about it.

I had some choices when I realized what I’d done.

I could have rolled over and gone back to bed, tossing this whole ‘Get Up Early’ thing in the trash and declare that it just Didn’t Work and I apparently had lost my ability to produce. All because I did one day ‘imperfectly’.

I didn’t do that, but I thought about it.
I got up and put 277 words on my board then took a nap and tackled more words later that day. On Sunday though, I overslept by an hour.

When I realized how far I’d fallen off my timeline, I felt terrible. Suddenly, this writing thing I’ve been doing didn’t feel like fun, it felt like an obligation. It wasn’t something I was choosing to do, but something I HAD to do and I have and resist ‘having’ to do anything.

In the past, this would have been the point of quitting.
I had not only done it imperfectly once, I’d done it imperfectly twice in a row. Imperfection was becoming the new streak.

I didn’t give up this weekend though. I chose to go back to sleep with the intense determination that I’d get up at 9 and catch up the words and that would be good enough. Because it doesn’t matter when I get up as long as those words are on the board, period.

There are times where the things I want to do just don’t work out the way I want and that is ok. I am still trying and I am still trying and still moving forward even if it didn’t go according to plan.

I was talking to Elizabeth (she’s been on the blog before) Saturday night about how hard it is to see the bigger picture of your achievements when you’re in the middle of trying to make them happen.

She’s published a book and is struggling her way through finishing her second one. She works two jobs and has a lot of Life things that have crept up on her like an angry badger over the last two months. She was lamenting at her lack of being able to carve her time out to write between all her obligations but completely seemed to forget the fact that she’d written over 144k worth of words last year despite challenges that I know I didn’t have.

My friend is the turtle and I am the hare.
As long as she can do her words at some point, it doesn’t matter how many there are at a time, because she knows that in the end she’ll wind up with enough to build the book.

I’m more impatient, needing that book NOW.

So many times in the last two years of pursuing writing, I have quit. I have stopped for days, weeks, and months out of frustration for not meeting that mental goal of perfection.

But it’s not about who is the fastest.
It’s not about who gets there soonest.
It’s not about being best.
It’s about doing what you want to do. Every day.

I have to do it a little at a time and sometimes that means I will be late.

If you’re reading this, it’s not because you want the perspective of an expert. It’s because you want to hear the commiseration of a fellow writer. A fellow trail partner on the road to making a living out of this little writing thing we all love to do.

I have over 70 pages on my current Novella and that’s something I didn’t have a month ago.
I didn’t skip writing Sunday even though I was late.
I didn’t skip yesterday.
And here I am today.

With each setback comes the opportunity to dust ourselves off and keep going. And that’s what we need to keep doing.
Channel the turtle in your writing and know that you can make it happen if you focus.

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