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?
Liked this post? Check out other popular posts on my blog: