I’m focused on every single thing except the things I want to be focused on.
I have cleaned. I have made doctor appointments. I have read three books (THIS WEEK.)
What I have not done is work on either one of my novels. I have not started illustrating my second poetry collection. I haven’t done any of the work I actually want to be doing.
It’s so easy to get frustrated with myself. My kids are both gone at the same time for 8 hours a week now. I’m not sure why I felt like those 8 hours would allow me to finish all of my projects immediately. It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud. “EIGHT WHOLE HOURS? It’s been two weeks!”
Books take more than 16 hours to write. At least that’s what they tell me.
This week I am taking a step back. I don’t have to abide by unrealistic expectations. Not even my own.
When I take a hard look at my own expectations, I realize that a lot of them are based on comparison. Specifically, comparison to people who are not me. When other people say things about their lack of productivity, my reaction would be “You are writing. You don’t have to follow anybody else’s timeline.” I would remind them of everything else they are doing. Why can I not accept that advice in the context of my own journey?
The truth is, I did write. I’ve written every day. In the past 12 months, I drafted a novel, completed two poetry collections, and 12k words of a second novel. When I think about it that way, I’m moving forward. I’m also learning that my best work is done when I don’t expect require word counts or hours or pages from myself on a daily basis. Right now, my process involves a 1 year old and a 4 year old, a job, a house, and a ton of other daily responsibilities, which create a chaotic and ever-changing environment. So maybe my books sit on a shelf for a week, or even a month. But when I come back, it will be because I am ready to listen to those characters again.
The story that needs to be told will get told. It doesn’t look like the devoted, 5k word a day routine I want it to, and that’s okay.
Because it has to be for now.