I hit a milestone yesterday. According to my Bullet Journal, I’ve written for 365 days in a row.
Think about that. Three hundred and sixty-five days. One year.
A big part of doing anything is sticking with it. Last year, I watched the Rita and Golden Heart Finalists be announced, looked at my own writing output…and got very depressed. I love writing. I love putting those words down on the page, giving life to the people and places in my head. But it isn’t my full time job or what pays the rent and puts food on the table. For that, I’m a cog in the corporate wheel, like many of you who read this. I’ve also got family responsibilities that take time and energy, like many of you. And, like many of you, there are days that I just felt too stretched, too tired to do something I loved because I was busy taking care of everything else.
So I looked at those announcements rolling across Twitter and I decided that needed to change. I’d told myself I would get a book out in 2016 — or I’d have to sit down and face the fact that maybe I was never going to be doing this for more than my own amusement. So I grabbed my journal and made a note: Writing Day 1. Yes, words got written that day, just like we stick to the first day of the diet. Same of Day 2 and Day 3. Day 4? That’s when I stumbled. Work was crazy and there was family stuff and I wanted to watch something on TV and I was tired — you know the excuses. I figured one day wouldn’t hurt. Nor would two. It was several days later that I realized I’d fallen back in the rut of letting everything else push the writing aside.
So I started again. Writing Day 1. That’s the streak I’m celebrating now. It hasn’t been easy because, well, life and we all have too many things on our plate and too many things that demand our time and attention before we can get to that which we do for ourselves. But if you keep going, things happen. I’ve gotten not one, but two books out, with two more to come this year. I’ve written on days when I was assured I wouldn’t have time because I needed to be at the polls by 6 AM and it was going to be a long, hard day. I’ve written during the last month of the year when my job required much more than forty hours in a week because we were prepping for the year to come and the materials I needed arrived later than they should. I’ve written in a cubicle in the Emergency Room, sitting at a bedside. Some days it’s been several thousand words. Sometimes, it’s been notes for an idea or something to solve a plot problem. And, yes, there have been a few days I would have rather been anywhere else except at the keyboard.
I did it, though, because if you want to do something that you love, no matter what it is, you have to work at it. Maybe it’s just five or ten minutes a day most days, carving out little niches of time, but you keep working at it. If you do that, it becomes natural to carve out that time for ourselves, to do the thing we want to do. Will you be guaranteed fame and fortune? No — but it’s better to spend time doing what you love, even if it is only for ourselves. Much better than looking back and saying “I wish I had at least tried.”
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m working on balance for Lent, trying to find that sweet spot where I can get the work done, be who I need to be for my family, do all the things I need to promote myself as an author, and write. It’s not easy, but getting the writing done every single day for a year wasn’t either. So I keep trying. And I’m asking you to do the same. Write down a goal — not a big one, but a little one, something you can chip away at for ten or fifteen minutes a day. Something you’ve been saying “someday” about. Write “Day 1” behind it. Carve out that tiny sliver of time because that’s often all we have. Do it tomorrow, and the day after. If you stumble one day, the next day, write “Day 1” and start the streak over again. Given time, it’s amazing what can come from that sliver.