Sunday, November 1, 2015

NoNoWriMo? Not! 30 Days of Blogging? Sure!

I had a huge work deadline last Monday - a major report that ended up being over ten pages long, not including supporting documents. I got the assignment in September. When did I start? Saturday. 

My procrastination, I recognize in retrospect, has everything to do with wanting to be perfect. I have this romantic impulse, a voice in my head that tells me to wait for the proper mood, for inspiration to strike. And when it does, as if by magic, a fully polished, final draft will appear the instant my fingers start tapping the keyboard.  

That's the belief, anyhow. 

Waiting for the inspiration-inducing lightning bolt isn't the only attitude keeps me from getting down to business. A part of me believes I need lengthy swaths of time to grade papers, wanting to finish in a single sitting. So I tell myself I can’t begin without least three or four hours of uninterrupted time. Why bother starting something unless I can finish it all right then and there? You can imagine how well that works for me. Not. 

This sort of distorted thinking  isn’t limited to writing and grading. I’ve struggled with my weight forever, putting off practicing healthy food choices because I want to wait for “just the right mood” to hit, for the stars to align just so. And unless I’m sure I have at least an hour to work out seven days a week, I won’t go the the gym, ignoring my doctor’s insistence that even 20 minutes five times a week is sufficient. Similar excuses plague me when it comes to paying bills, tidying my desk, and keeping in touch with friends. All or nothing, baby.

The point of this confession? It’s time again for NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is yearly international creative writing initiative that challenges participants to compose a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, one day at a time. And my social media feeds are filling up with hints, clues, and motivational posts about how to get a novel written in a month. 

But I’m not interested in writing a novel. Oh, no.  NaNoWriMo reminds me of another activity I avoid because of my perfectionism: Blogging, something I actually enjoy.

That avoidance is partially about poor time management, for sure. And once I miss a few weeks (or months!) of blogging, inertia builds up.  But the biggest factor for procrastination has everything to do with my aforementioned “romantic impulse” and a pernicious streak of perfectionism.

Now is the time for me to channel the advice my writing mentor gave me when I first started to blog. She suggested that I should commit to writing blog every day for a month, giving myself permission to write short entries if necessary, and forgiving myself if I miss a day (or three). The point is to write. And when I followed her advice, I surprised myself, blogging regularly. Not perfectly. But the regular practice did help me grow as a writer. 

And the folks at TeachThought who organize blogging challenges also urge participants to commit to a daily habit of blogging for their monthly challenges. They encourage folks to shoot for thirty days in a row,too.  Just as important, they counsel participants to maintain a “growth mindset” when they miss a day or two. And when I heeded their advice, I returned to habit of blogging and I saw my writing improve. 

It's time to recommit!  So here’s to blogging the entire month of November, one post per day. No matter how short or how far from perfect the posts, I recommit to a habit of writing. Wish me luck! 

Maybe next year I’ll give NaNoWriMo a try, but only if I'm in the right mood.