The path to success is not a linear one. This road will be different for any why dare to cross it. It will be full of cliffs, valleys and peaks. You will find yourself running on ahead, stopping for a rest, or even backtracking over ground you already covered. Contrary to what all of the self-help and productivity books try to tell us, there is no right or wrong path to follow. It’s a matter of grit and determination, of knowing when it is
time for you to surge ahead and when it is a time to fall back. We all have struggles to overcome, we all have strengths to uphold; we all walk different paths, even if our anticipated destination is the same.
February was a month of learning and re-evaluating for me. Perhaps some would call it a failure- and if you look at the bare-bone numbers, perhaps they would be right. After all, I didn’t hit the well-defined goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the month. I told myself that I would try to publish four new posts to this blog every week, and as you can all certainly attest to, I came nowhere near that number. I also decided to set a 50,000 word goal for the month, and I only managed to get to about 22,000. For the first time in a semi-Nano event, I missed my mark and fell short. Like I said, if you look at the quantifiable data for my February- you could call this past month a failure. But I, in good conscience, cannot.
You see, I have always been the type of person who likes to learn my lessons the hard way. I tend to take the long way around to come to the same conclusion that others may quickly arrive at. I have always been the type to go for the experience to learn my little bits of worldly wisdom. And in some ways, I think I am better for it. I am no different when it comes to my writing- I have to try all of the wrong ways before I can settle on the right one.
What this past month really boiled down to was a lack of preparation. I went into February expecting one thing and receiving something completely different. February was anticipated to be a relatively relaxing month- I was going to have plenty of time to get everything done. But the month itself quickly proved that it would not settle for basic expectations. Instead of a slow plodding, it turned into 28 days filled to the brim with last-minute plans and engagements, emergency problems and issues that required additional time and effort. To put it bluntly, things just went sideways and got a bit crazy. And my big problem was that I didn’t prepare myself for these contingencies. I am a firm believer in Murphy’s Law- if something can go wrong, then it probably will. Which is why it was rather silly of me to expect to get by on a hope and a prayer; it wasn’t a sustainable plan, in fact, I don’t think I can really call it much of a plan at all. I tripped and I fell; and in the hustle and bustle of life, I just couldn’t quite get back to my feet.
The beautiful thing about these kinds of ‘failures’ boils down to the lessons that you learn from them; you have to be prepared and ready for whatever may be tossed at you. Because of the issues I encountered in February, I’m changing the game plan, and I will be charging into March with a much stronger footing. The key to my success is going to come down to my planning. I was starting to get a bit lazy, a tad sloppy with my work. I wasn’t giving the words time to breath, I was pushing through to publishing posts before they had a chance to ruminate and be properly edited. I didn’t give them a chance to live up to their potential. And that is my fault as their creator; they were only granted as much life as I was willing to give them. Which is why I have a whole new process in place, going back to my regimented days that I used when I first started this blog; and you know what, it’s actually a bit liberating. I always felt like the strict schedules were stifling, but in truth, they gave me the freedom to really focus on one thing at a time instead of scrambling at the last minute. I have a weekly schedule in
place with the different topics I want to cover each week. I’ve given myself a bit of room for flexibility, after all, you never know when the passion will strike for a particular topic, and I feel it is important to give myself a touch of creative license. But at least for the moment, I have a backbone, a plan in place when I feel like I just don’t know what direction to take next. I can get ahead of the pack, so to speak, and start getting some ideas down in advance- give them the proper amount of time for editing before
they get thrust out into the world for anyone to see.
This planning will also help me find more time to work on my actual novels; I wont be scrambling for blog posts as often, so I can focus on the bigger project. Not only that, but I am scheduling specific writing time- and my intent is to stick with it. Even if I wind up needing to cut the time short just because of life- at least I can get in a bit of work time. I’m taking into account which days I can invest more time than others, and giving myself enough room to enjoy some of those little ‘extras,’ like my reading or crafty projects. It’s all about the balance.
Not only that, but I was finally able to figure out a work-around for my chronic technological issues that have left me at a near-standstill with my writing. I’ve been having intermittent issues with my
laptop since Nano; I’ve been forced to write virtually all of my blog posts on my phone (which I am not a big fan of), and I’ve been occasionally blocked from my word processor- which effectively blocks me from doing anything with my current WIPs. I wont get into the boring details on what is wrong with it, but suffice it to say that my document back-ups have been intermittent at best. But this past week I have figured out a temporary patch for my system- something that, theoretically, should work long enough for me to upload my WIPs to my different back-up avenues. I’ve pulled my old laptop out of storage and, while it has its own issues, it will at least allow me to type and back-up my work- the bare essentials of my programs still function just fine (though I have to buy a new charger because my current one has exposed wires that are in constant danger of potentially catching something on fire). But it will do in a pinch until I can save up the money to invest in something new. In the meantime, as a back-up to my Plan B, I am setting up my tablet, just in case my old laptop decides that it preferred retirement. The tablet isn’t particularly convenient, mainly because of formatting differences that turn editing into a bit of a tedious headache, but I will at least be able to get some work done. So now I have continugency plans; I wont just be stuck, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Yes, it is true, some may say that February was an epic failure. But I am not one of those people. I have learned a lot, I am still figuring out my new routines and plans that will be best for me; and yes, I
still need to figure out how to add some fitness goals in here. But I’m trying. I’m getting organized so that I will be able to more easily take this one day at a time. I am setting myself up for success in March. I’ll get there eventually, I’m just going to take the scenic route along the way.