February Foibles or Learned Lessons 

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. 

Surprise Skeletons and a Late Night Run in the Rain: My Week in Review

This morning I decided that the next step in my accountability plan is to report back here- if I have to tell you about my successes and failures, then perhaps I will try a bit harder to give you something good. I know I get spotty with my follow-through, but it’s time to change my thinking and hold myself to the promises that I made. I’m also going to get a bit more specific with my goals- that way I can actually give myself a ‘grade’ for the week. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these new ideas in place until this morning, so this review is going to be a bit of an overview.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a week, mainly because of work. I went in Monday morning slightly dreading an activity I had on my agenda that day. But a co-worker turned that all around for me. I hadn’t been in my own office for more than a few minutes over the past week and half because I was busy covering for people in other departments. I missed my little hole in the wall and my lovely little plants (all named after Wild West personas). When I stepped into my hallway all of the lights were off and my office door was closed- both very unusual things. When I opened it, this is the sight that met my eyes.

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Meet Burnie, borrowed from the Fire Department to give me a nice little scare. It set the tone for the rest of my day; Monday way going to be good, come hell or high water- I was going to be happy and productive.

The rest of the week was a bit of a challenge on the work front, leaving me a tad exhausted and creatively tapped out by the time I got home. I worked on my editing, but not as thoroughly as I wanted to. I was having a hard time getting into the story, I even tried switching to a different project at one point, but without much luck. I got a little bit done, but there is a lot left to do if I want to meet that goal by the end of the month. At this rate I may need to turn October into another editing month (with a dash of Nano Prep sprinked in, that’s right, we are getting close my friends!).

On the bright side, I’ve been trying to journal a bit more- to keep myself sane and mindful. And while I haven’t been keeping up with it daily, I did finish out the journal I’ve been writing in (yay). I love cracking open a new one, and actually- I’ve come a long way since I started this last one. I love going back through and re-reading where I started vs. where I ended. Today I am going to pull out a new one (I have a couple stock-piled), and see what happens in the next few months. It’s been helping. I’ve been feeling more centered, more in control of my life and aware of what’s going on around me. I need to try to unplug a bit more often though. I’ve been catching myself dinking around on my phone a lot without doing anything productive, so that is something to work on this coming week.

Last night I was sitting in my pj’s listening to the rain outside and attempting to get some editing done, but I was getting distracted by the blasted interwebs. So you know what I did? I am so proud of this- Zach and I got up, changed and went out for a late night jog in the rain! Yay for finally getting my booty back out there! We took it easy because its been so long since we last went out. But it felt good to get moving. We signed up for a Stage Race next summer, so we’re getting back in shape for that. I think I’m going to sign up for a few 5k’s to keep myself motivated.

Overall- I didn’t have a home run week, but I’m slowly adding new elements to it. Considering the exhausting work week- I am still proud of what I did manage to get done. Sometimes we have to be flexible, sometimes life throws you a few curve balls that you have to roll with. I am forever a work in progress, but at least I am still working.

 

Small Successes are the Biggest Battles

Some days you have to celebrate the small successes, those little moments when you feel like you are simply treading water instead of going anywhere significant. Some days I feel like a rock star, taking giant leaps in the direction of my dreams, other days a tiny nudge is the closest I will get towards moving in the right direction. It’s okay to have these days. If all you have left in you is the ability to stand your ground when it feels like the current is threatening to pull you backwards- that is still a success. Some days, the best thing that you can do for yourself is hold still and let the storms pass.

Today was a day of small steps. After a long week, it feels good to just sit here with my laptop and a blanket. I don’t feel like I’m on my A-game right now, but I’m also not feeling too guilty about that either. Today I didn’t leap forward, there was no kicking ass or taking names. Today I simply scooted a bit closer to my goals. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best, to push the farthest, to work hard now so that we can play hard later. We fight so hard for our productive time that we never slow down and take a breath. Refresh yourself, take a break, you are only human after all.

So today I will celebrate writing a post. I will dance for joy because the laundry is finally in the dryer (now whether I get around to folding it will be another story. Spoiler- probably wont be happening before I go to bed). I will tout my success because I typed another page when it took everything I had inside to string one word after another. The fight doesn’t have to be large and earth-shattering to still be a struggle. I may be hanging on by my fingertips some days, but I am still hanging on. So for those of you out on this branch with me- cheers, my friends. We can do it.