So my fiance and I just broke down on a bridge in the middle of nowhere and both of our phones were dead. This involved a 20 minute walk alone (one of us had to stay with the car) in the dark down town gearing myself up to stab someone with an ink pen in case they thought I made a tempting target (spoiler alert, that didn't happen), to get to a phone to call for help.
I still haven't finished my word count, but as soon as I'm done with this blog entry that's exactly what I'm going to turn around and do. That said, I realized some things today during said 20 minute walk that I feel are important and I'm the kind of boosted animal that's going to share them all with you fine folks.
It's been a rough year. It's been a rough couple of years, honestly.
We're talking three deaths in the family, losing three out of four of my cats including my special baby (my familiar for those pagan oriented folks in the audience; I'm still waiting for him to come back to me), loss of a friendship, gender identity issues, trying to plan a wedding that everyone in my life had other plans for, learning to market myself like a fucking adult, numerous thyroid-related anxiety spikes, an ever increasing freelance workload (that is not a complaint, I need that shit, but it did eat a lot of my time)...the list goes on.
Looking at all of it, I'm seeing how many of those things I used as excuses not to write on the days when they happened and the days around them. Looking at all of it, I can see just how much of this year and last year was eclipsed simply by the every day stresses of life.
In retrospect, none of this shit was an excuse not to get words on paper.
Neither was the car breaking down today.
Like, don't get me wrong. There's a part of me saying 'that was exhausting, I don't want to get up and get this done right now'. I think if anybody else told me that, I'd be in that camp, too.
I think I've hit the point in my life where it's okay for me to expect better from myself. I think I've hit the point in my life where I'm going to have to expect better from myself if I'm going to get everything done that I so dearly want to finish in my lifetime.
Here's the thing. I'm beginning to understand, little by little, that life is a series of disasters. If you try to wait out the storm, you're never going to get anything done. Life is the storm. Revel in it. There's no reason to wait.
If you're like me, the Writer's High is a very real thing. That's the feeling you get when you wind down from writing a lot of words. And I mean a lot for you. For me, that's 4-5k. For most people I know, that's 1-2k but I know a couple of people that go 9-10k every day and that seems like an absurd amount to me. You know what? Your average words per day don't matter. Consistency matters way more.
If awful things happen, hammering out a good chunk of the novel your working on can be a great factor in whether you let yourself fall into despair over it or whether it helps you feel better. For me, hitting that word count is self-care. This is what I care about, this is my priority. I'm going to start making it a point to frame it that way to myself from now on, no matter what is going on in my life.
I'm not saying you have to prioritize the same way. If it isn't the same for you that's fine. Take care of yourself. Breathe. Remember that no matter what, this is going to be okay and do what it takes to get yourself back in the game now regardless of what kind of storm is raging around you. It's so important to remember to keep on.
Keep living your life.
If that life includes writing, keep hitting your word count.
For me, I've realized this isn't something I can just shove to the side because life is happening. This is life for me. I don't feel like a whole person when I'm not getting it done and when I am it's enough to carry me through a lot of different crisis points.
So I'm going to make a promise to me, here. I'm going to keep getting it done. I'm going to prioritize it, not because failure isn't an option (it isn't but that isn't the point) but because this is what I want my life to be, and life doesn't pause for you just because you hit a rough patch.
Keep calm, write another 100 words, and be the best you can be.
Megan R. Miller