My Year of Writing (Part 2): What I Learned

So, I wrote for a whole year (read part 1 here). This is what happened and everything I learned.

I challenged myself.

You’re never too old to challenge yourself or dust off a dormant passion of yours. One of the toughest things about being a parent to a young child is that there are no sick days, weekends, or vacations from your job as a parent. Even when you have a ‘day away,’ you’re never really disconnected. Your mind wanders, you plan ahead, you think about all the things that still have to get done and what needs to be sacrificed in order to get said things done. For instance, you could have a bad day, be in a salty mood from work, or just want to lay down because you think you might be dying of exhaustion, but you still have to keep going because someone always needs dinner, a bath, and a bedtime story read to them in the exact order that was read to them every night for the past 132 nights. You do it because you have to, but you also love the little person you’re doing it for. That’s sort of what writing every week has been like for me. I was committed. It didn’t matter where my mind was on that particular day or week, what mattered was that I was able to get something on paper and a viable post scheduled every Tuesday night. Some might see this as terribly unfun and a rigid way to write, but I see it as a form of practiced discipline. It’s a goal-oriented mindset that I painstakingly formed into a steadfast habit. Guess what? It worked.

I acknowledged potential failures.

I’ve written at length about this subconscious fear of mine which is fairly common (especially among writers, I find). In the past, it stopped me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. But the thing I realized was that the potential for failure didn’t just fade away because I decided to take that leap of faith. No, that chance of falling flat on my face was ever-present, I just learned to push it aside and told it to get out of my damn way instead. Sometimes my drive waned, admittedly. I questioned and doubted myself often, especially if I wrote something I was particularly proud of one week because then the thought of where the bar was raised for the next post had me spiraling as well. I often had to ignore my fear that I was only ever as good as my last great post. What if I never come up with another creative idea again?

I encountered writer’s block… a lot.

Writer’s block is real, but just like any other barriers we come upon in life, it requires breaking. I’m not an avid rock climber by any stretch but in rock climbing, the hardest bit for me is reaching a part of the wall that juts out. That’s the point that requires all your upper body strength because you have very little foothold to grip onto, if any. That’s how I feel most Tuesday nights. I look at this jut in the wall (the jut being the ticking clock) with increasing doubt, “Maybe this is the week I just don’t publish; maybe I skip this week?” In the end, though, I find that imaginary bucket of cold water and douse my face with it and extinguish those worries. Just write, I remind myself, just write.

I leaned into the power of momentum.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a long-standing streak. When I started that 12-week workout program, I kept track of my daily/weekly attendance on the fridge calendar. This was easily accessible and a constant reminder that no matter how lazy I was feeling that day, I had potentially felt the same all those other days and I was still able to accomplish my daily goal of completing that day’s work-out. And the calendar tracker staring right back at me in the face was all the proof I needed. The neurotic side of me wouldn’t allow me to break that streak. Reminders of past successes can often motivate us to stay on that predictable path and guide us to the ultimate goal, one step at a time.

I experienced joy.

One of the best parts about writing in this blog format is connecting with other like-minded folks. I have loved getting to know all the diverse writers around the world and supporting each other’s works. Also, this practice of writing has gifted me an extensive body of work that I am now able to look back on like photographs from different points in my life.

My writing was like a form of therapy.

I’ve always been a fan of traditional therapy. It’s helped me unload my thoughts and anxious paranoia to an expert in listening and dissecting psychological issues. This past year, I’ve learned that writing is like a type of therapy for me. I didn’t fully realize this, but I have constant thoughts running through my head. These thoughts aren’t just settled in my mind with a place to call home. No, these thoughts resurface periodically asking things like, “What does this mean, where does this all fit into the grand scheme of who I am?” They keep me occupied in idle moments like before I fall into a deep slumber at night or when I happen to be standing under my showerhead in the morning trying to wash away the exhaustion of life. My posts are often born from these moments, ideas that come to me or thoughts that reappear after having been long buried. “What does this all mean?”

I developed my writing and critical thinking skills.

It’s true what they say, practice makes you much better at your craft. Okay, they don’t exactly say that, but I hate the word ‘perfect.’ No one is perfect and perfection isn’t even a place one should aspire to be. What we should focus on is that practice makes progress. And I have certainly seen progress in the way I write, how I use my written voice, how I channel ideas, and the way in which I navigate shifting perspectives. The blogosphere is like one gigantic writing group, it takes courage to constantly put yourself out there week-to-week. I am always thinking about my audience and how the readers may perceive a story, that’s what makes it a challenge. A challenge that I am excited to meet every week.

I finally understand the concept of “less is more.”

The ability to leave things on the cutting room floor is something I thought I’d never be able to do. My hardwired mentality is that I need to cover all bases; leave no stone unturned. And the only reason why I am able to do this, abide by the principle of less is more, is because ideas are limitless. You don’t need to say everything and then some in any one post. You can expand on your ideas later on or reshape it into a different theme at your discretion. The blogosphere is your oyster.

I learned more about accountability.

I learned about a different kind of accountability- the kind to oneself. Now, I hold myself accountable instead of having others hold me accountable. This allows me to change pace or pivot if I ever feel my ideas and interests diverting. It reminds me that I am doing it for my own reasons and to stay true to myself.

I learned to make better use of my time.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear people say, “You must have a lot of time on your hands.” Someone who is able to focus on their passions and do what brings them joy is not someone who has boundless time on their hands. This is someone who takes care to prioritize their time and makes sacrifices in other areas of their life in order to do the things that make them happy. My sacrifice this past year has been less TV and less YouTube time to make way for more dedicated writing time. Not all sacrifices are bad for the soul.

Finally, I learned that everyone has a story, including me.

I realized every single one of us has a story, and not just one but plenty of stories. We all have moments that make up who we are and how we function with others in the world. I’ve never considered myself to be a storyteller. A curious student and a big thinker, yes, but never a great storyteller. I didn’t even know I had stories worth telling until this past year. I found that every memory could easily morph into a story; a layer of peeled away onion to get to the deeper part of a person’s centre. Even unpleasant memories deserve a spotlight. Every tough or sticky situation became an opportunity to retell the story from a humorous lens. Being honest became my writing currency of choice because the beauty of all this sharing is recognizing that we can all live separate lives yet still be easily bonded by our experiences through a mass of words on a page.

If you write regularly, what have you learned through this process?

 

 

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43 thoughts on “My Year of Writing (Part 2): What I Learned

  1. You have learned so much from your writing journey. Yes writing takes time, but you have learned time management. Writing is most definitely therapy. I can personally attest to this. Writing takes discipline. I read that Stephen King gets up every morning, very very early and writes a minimum of 300 words before he starts his day. Yes, less is more and not just in writing. As the tired busy mom that you are, congratulations on giving yourself this thing that is just for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I read that factoid about Stephen King too, and that’s sort of what bolstered this journey for me. Will every writing day result in a complete post? Not likely, but the exercise in itself will get my creative juices flowing and build that habit of mine! I’ve enjoyed every up and every down I’ve felt throughout this crazy journey! Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Would you quit writing such thought-provoking material, Bosssy! One of these times my response will be almost as long as your post.😎 Today, I’ll limit myself to three.
    1. No call-in sick days for parenting. This is not a gig for the faint of heart. I had the exact mindset as a teacher. It didn’t matter if it was the weekend or the middle of summer—school and children were ALWAYS on my mind.
    2. Haha to bedtime routines and reading the exact story you’ve read hundreds of times before and had memorized after about the 20th time. My wife and I still break out some of the old lines from one of Ryan’s stories. Yes, they’re still stuck there 25 years later.😊 “Left foot, left foot, left foot right. Feet in the morning and feet at night.” From Dr. Seuss’s “The Foot Book.” One of my most precious daily activities as a father was reading to or with him through 6th grade. Just wait until you watch Charlotte reading by herself one day and you will know it was all worth it. I love when Ryan is at home. He breaks out his old video games, watches some television, and all the other things he likes to do. Guaranteed there will be times when it’s quiet and I’ll find him reading a novel. It reinforces all over again how important it is to read to your child.
    3. Writing is therapy. Yes, to making the time instead of “you’re so lucky.” We know we like to write when the words themselves or someone else’s words (like moms in Canada) give us pleasure. I’m going back to visit each of my three older brothers in May. I’m psyched to see my brothers, and I’m also excited to meet two bloggers in person. I know you’re wondering who? Haha! I’m not telling, but you know them both. You’ll have to wait for the inevitable post.😁

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha it wouldn’t be complete without one of your novel comments, truly! I enjoy it and yes, one of these days it will be longer than my actual post and that will be okay in my books! 😀 haha

      Ryan is and was a lucky guy to have such a dedicated and involved father such as yourself! This is what brings up healthy, confident children! I know Charlotte is lucky to have her dad as well, my husband’s bond with Charlotte is unbreakable and so heartwarming to see! I can’t wait to see their bond transition as they enter different stages of both their lives. 💕🥰

      I am so glad to know you will be meeting (in-person) two mutual bloggers! I have guesses but don’t want to put pressure on you hahaha! How fun! Hope there will be pics! Can’t wait to read that post! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a wonderful manifesto about what writing can do for a person’s life, mental health, spiritual health. Everything. I love it all and am so happy that we connected along the way. I especially like your ‘less is more’ revelation. Once I figured that out, blogging became much easier for me, and readers responded positively to me not being here all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that was a big one for me! Realizing that I had the ability to share it all but I didn’t have to do it in one go! I have really enjoyed getting to know you, Ally and always look forward to your comments! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. congratulations on achieving your goal – it is quite an accomplishment. this is such a wonderful post, with so many valuable lessons for all. I agree that it is motivating to keep to a schedule, and then it builds its own momentum where you want to keep it going. and yes, where there is a will, there is a way. but that way often involves sacrifices. best of all is your recognition of all that you learned during the process. Will you be sticking to the same goal for the next year? I wish you continued success!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha that’s what my final part 3 is about…what now!!?!?! Gosh, it’s easy to just be like, well I did it and thank you, good night! But I’m not sure… I guess we’ll all have to stay posted… including myself because I am still not sure Thanks so much for your kind words, Jim! I have so appreciated all your kind words throughout the year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re actually a VERY good story teller. I think one of the first posts I read of yours was kind of story like. Something about you and your husband on a hike. Sorry I can’t remember, but I remember your way of writing pulled me in. I have to say I admire your motivations for committing to writing. Because mine are much more selfish 😬 I mean, I def need to write to stay sane, so I can relate to the therapeutic factor you mentioned. But I’m also dedicated because I want followers and success! I don’t even know why or what for, I just do! Either way I’m so glad you’re committed to your blog, because seriously I’d miss you if I didn’t hear from you every week!!! 😕💔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw that’s so sweet, Libby!! 😭I am so grateful to have your support and your weekly comments to the crazy things I write about! Yes, I remember that hike well! LOL It was around this time a year ago because we went for a hike on my birthday hahaha and he ALMOST KILLED US!!! That man!! LOL haha thanks for always being there! 💓 What ever your reasons, you’re an amazing writer and person! I enjoy being connected with you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such an amazing feat, and awesome of you to condense your experience into shareable lessons. This challenge really is something we need in our lives, isn’t it? Even though we could do without the added stress, I believe that it’s this pressure that drives us to do something more than the status quo, and you’ve certainly gone over that by writing for an entire year straight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You put it so perfectly, Stuart! Yes to all of it! I could have very easily not written and discovered this joy but I did and I did it for a year (so have you and plenty of others)! It’s been a great year of writing!

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  7. What a great reflection! I love “practice makes progress” because striving for perfection is what blocks us sometimes. I have learned so much in my blogging journey, but I think the biggest thing is that I have a unique voice and people are interested in my pearls of wisdom. I would never have had the courage to write a series like Simple Living Sunday in the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, one of the reasons why I’ve been following you (other than the fact that we’re fellow Canadians 😀) is because I feel like your blog is a breath of fresh air and offers a lot of great tips and content! Your Simple Living Sunday series has inspired me (and continues to remind me) to be more thoughtful, positive and appreciative of all that I have. I want to always remember that nothing we have is permanent so it’s up to each of us to nurture it while we have it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been on the same journey as of late and I could relate to every word! I’ve set this imaginary goal for myself to write at least once a week. This last week it was a lot harder because I wasn’t feeling well. I started with writers block, then broke through and found my stride, got board with my original idea a page in, then scrapped everything and started again. This week I was a day late but honestly, as long as I’m writing something, anything… that’s all that matters. I can’t wait to see what the year brings for me. Your words, you blog, your way of writing is incredible. I’ve gone back and read some of your older stuff and seen how much this journey has helped you grow- as a mother, a wife, and a writer. I’m honestly not exactly sure what to do with everything afterwards but I’m enjoying the journey. So as always thanks for sharing and being an inspiration to me 🥰❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like my niche of doing two posts a week, a long one and a Wordless Wednesday, instead of writing on a more-regular basis, as those posts didn’t always have a lot of substance – I was merely writing to “report” on what I saw in the neighborhood, so I’ve now expanded my horizons a little bit more. I feel I’ve evolved through the years and have enjoyed that process. Starting a blog was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. It IS hard to set aside time and make the effort to write regularly sometimes but we are richer for doing so, along with interacting with others here in the Blogosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Linda! I loved hearing about your story of how you began your blog and how it morphed throughout the years. Sometimes a good pivot in our journey is what we need to evolve! It’s crazy how many opportunities this blogging thing allows us to find genuine connections with each other, I love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the connections too Jen. I live alone and have no family, plus have worked from home the last 11 years, so fellow bloggers have become like a second family to me. Expanding our horizons through our blog is pretty awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aw that’s so amazing that you are able to reach a deeper level of connection to other bloggers. Has the pandemic been harder for you or are you pretty used to working from home 100% of the time?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is nice Jen and I’ve enjoyed the whole blogging experience (even if I’m perpetually behind in Reader). I was laid off in late 2009 after we got very slow at work due to the recession. I work for a sole practitioner, a labor attorney for management. I was hired back part time eighteen months later but I never returned on site, just from home. That allowed me to begin a walking regimen, something I would not have been able to do had I worked on site.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thanks so much for thinking I’m cool, Chel! I’ve so appreciated everyone’s amazing support on here. Seeing that people can relate to my thoughts/stories is really the whole point of blogging for me- that connection. I once had a fleeting thought that I could blog every day but then I quickly extinguished that idea – I would be so drained! LOL… Anyway, thanks for being so lovely! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve learned that my writing is my therapy. Getting my emotions or what I’m going through down on virtual paper enables me to carry on and not dwell. Before blogging, I would be all kinds of screwed up!
    The best thing about blogging is that it has opened up this brand new world of people that I’d never have met, and stories that I’d never had heard. Just like yours. For that I’m forever grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

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