Here I am, 77 posts into this project. Currently breastfeeding my toddler while typing–that hasn’t changed. But a lot of other things have, and I’m only 21% of the way through the project. Today seemed like a good day to take stock of changes, side effects and discoveries.
1.) Productivity – In my first post I hypothesized that writing begets writing, and I’ve found this to be absolutely true. Outside of this space, my main project is taking shape. In addition to essays-in-progress, I have fragments, lists, and saved drafts, those fleeting wisps that disappear if I don’t catch them in time. For so long I didn’t bother capturing them–what was the point? Now I collect every single one, even if it requires me to pull the car over and scribble on the back of a napkin or turn on my phone at 3:00 am to type into the notes app.
2.) Empathy – Empathy is a side effect of daily writing I didn’t expect. Seeking the truth about myself every day, shaping that truth into words, and making it public deepens my understanding, not only of myself but of others. Where I was once quick to judge another person, I’m now curious to understand.
3.) Alcohol-Free – Another unexpected side effect of this practice: I’ve stopped drinking. Truth-seeking requires clarity and presence of mind, which even moderate alcohol hinders. It also steals time. I’m always searching for those quiet pockets: my toddler’s nap, evenings at the library. There aren’t many free hours and I need as many as I can get. There are nights when I’d love to relax with a glass of wine or have a beer at a birthday party, but I haven’t. Time, clarity and focus mean too much to me right now.
4.) Writing Routine & Commitment – I have carved out a writing routine and time for myself. Instead of dreading the blank page, I look forward to it, and my commitment to the work deepens.
5.) Pushing Through Slumps – Showing up in this space every day teaches me how to push through slumps. I can’t take a single day off from this commitment; every day I must come up with something, if only a sentence or two. I apply the same commitment to my other projects; I push through, even on the days when energy is low and I feel empty of words.
6.) Goals – As my projects take shape, my writing goals are becoming clearer.
7.) Being Seen – When Chris was featured in the local paper and my blog was mentioned, my site traffic skyrocketed–for a few days. I immediately switched the setting to private, wanting to hide myself and my words under a rock, never to be seen again. I got over it, and eight hours later switched the setting back to public. Every day I have to get over being seen. It is still uncomfortable, but it’s getting easier.
8.) Housekeeping (or Lack Thereof) – My house is messier. I don’t cook every single night. Sometimes my toddler watches too much Daniel Tiger. I’m learning to be okay with these things.
9.) Workshop – I was accepted into a memoir masterclass at Westport Writers’ Workshop with the amazing Marcelle Soviero, editor-in-chief of Brain, Child magazine, one of my favorite publications. Happiness, fear, excitement! Class began today and I fumbled with my words as I introduced myself and explained my project to the group. But talking about my project, explaining it out loud, gave it power. It turns out I know exactly what this project is; I know what story I want to tell. It’s not the murky, amorphous mystery I’d thought it was. I was the last person to read my work, and though I could feel red blotches blooming on my chest and rising up my neck, I got through it. I got through it to great reception. When it was over, I floated down the stairs and out to my car, happy.