Me at my best
It’s funny how days become weeks and weeks become months that can fly by unnoticed if we’re not careful. This is why I do love a milestone to help me to see how far I’ve come and to focus my mind for a moment on where I am headed. When I embarked on my blog-writing journey back in September, I had no idea how long it would last or where it would take me. If I had fallen pregnant on the day I started, I would be due this week! I am literally in week 40 and feeling the cramping pains of something that desperately wants to be born. But is it ready to come out?
Nine months of dedication
In reviewing all of the blogs I’ve written so far, I have found some stupid spelling mistakes, grim grammatical errors and sub-standard sentences that all serve to remind me that my writing is indeed a work in progress. While some aspects of my writing might be a cause of some embarrassment, I am in a forgiving mood as I acknowledge that perfection is not something that I would ever dream of striving for and each one of my blogs was a proper labour of love. Instead, I strive to learn and improve with time and effort. My journey began with my account of how it felt to lose my friend, the wine witch and has taken me on a bit of a ride through the peaks and troughs of the mental health landscape. In the first trimester of the journey, I would start the research process on a Saturday, write most of the content on Sunday so that by Monday, the day of publication, all that was left to do was find a photo and update my website. By the time I was well into the second trimester, I had become so accustomed to the process of research and writing that I was able to get both done on a Sunday. And yes, you’ve guessed it, in the third trimester I found myself efficiently using my time and managing all aspects of my blog on a Monday. For the past three months, I have woken up on a Monday morning with a belly full of blog that needs researching, writing, editing, organising and publishing. It has given my Mondays a real sense of purpose, other than my usual job of being a wife and mother and all that those roles entail.
On account of accountability
While I am pleased with myself for being a woman of my word and delivering a blog every week as I said I would, there is a part of me that feels I have failed in some aspects of my writing. One of the goals of my blog was to keep me active and accountable as a writer. Let’s face it, one is not a writer if one doesn’t write. It has been really helpful to receive feedback from you, my lovely readers, and to feel encouraged by you. It’s as though I made myself accountable to you. But the person I need to be most accountable to is myself, and this is where I have failed. When I stopped drinking exactly 14 months ago today, I made a pledge that I would finish my book. I expected great things to happen to me in exchange for the courage and strength it took for me to address the life-long habit that was deeply ingrained in my way of life. Back in March, I wrote about taking a Leap of Faith and how doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. Yet I didn’t take my own advice. Instead. I found it easier to focus on my kids and their needs than to get my head down to write on other days apart from Mondays. In my defence, the library was closed due to COVID-19 and with a house full of teenagers and a working-from-home husband, I found it next to impossible to concentrate. But I bet you many a brilliant novel has been written under equally challenging conditions. I just keep finding excuses to avoid putting in the hard work that is required to finish this book of mine.
Wins to celebrate
But all is not lost. Some of the things I listed in Leap of Faith as important when it comes to fulfilling our dreams were ‘incremental wins’ and ‘celebrating achievements’. I am glad I reviewed my previous blogs now because that blog in particular has reminded me of two important ways in which we can feel more motivated to continue with the pursuit of our goals. I am going to count my 40 published blogs as incremental wins and I am going to celebrate them for they have taught me so much, both in terms of the research and writing processes. What incremental wins have you had recently that you can celebrate?
Working to a deadline
What is glaringly obvious, though, from the whole experience of weekly blogging is the need for me to have a deadline to work to. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that unless I have to do something, I will avoid doing it. There are things such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing, etc. that have to be done in order to create a harmonious homelife for my family, but sitting at my desk, tapping away at my keyboard, calling on my creative side to guide me, is never a priority. But surely the only way we can achieve anything is by making that thing a priority?
Where there’s a plan, there’s a way
The best will in the world is not going to get that book finished. And no amount of positive thinking or creative visualisation alone will bring about the publication of my book. What I need is a plan of action that will bring about change to my current modus operandi. So, in order to draw up this plan I need to know the what, the who and the how.
What do I want to achieve and why?
Who do I need support from to make it happen?
How will I achieve this?
Once I have answered these key questions, have a plan and a timeline in place, I can then get to work on aligning my behaviour and actions with what I know to be my true desire. I think it’s important to understand why we want something. Our ‘why’ can change and therefore the significance of the goal too. There are no ‘have to’s’ in life apart from dying…. only those that we tell ourselves. I know that there was a time when I fantasised about seeing my name on the cover of a book and now, upon reflection, I realise it was because of the search for external recognition of my worth. There has been a magical process of inner transformation taking place since the day I decided to be the best version of myself 14 months ago. I know my own worth now. My reason for wanting to write this book has changed. It is now more closely linked to my passion for social justice and my desire to tell a story that has the potential to make the world a better place. I have to believe that and integrate it into my goal in order to give it the wings it needs to fly.
I will leave you this week with a quote from the amazing artist, Pablo Picasso who, even with all his talent, worked to a plan to create his masterpieces:
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
Wish me luck as I plan for the birth of my very own masterpiece on or around the due date that I will realistically set for myself. Watch this space! Thanks for getting as far as here with me today.