And breathe…

It’s time to knock off some of the pressure, I think.

Lately I’ve been finding it very hard to relax…hard to sleep, hard to concentrate on things.  Things that I find fun are too tied up in anticipation, too tied up in what they might be taking time away from.  Obviously, none of this is healthy.

Last night I received some sage advice: “You’re doing great with your writing.  But I hate your wordcounts.  Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?”

And it’s true.  It’s entirely true.  If I look back to when I was writing ALL the time (let’s go with university and right after), did I ever have wordcount quotas?  No.  I sometimes did a wordcount for interest’s sake if I felt like I had had a particularly productive day but I never had a quota around it.  And why should I have?  I had no idea how long the finished product was going to be. I just wrote for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Writing has always been one of my favourite things to do, one of the best ways for me to relax.  But over the past little while it hasn’t felt that way at all.  The process has become a “chug out as much as possible in every single spare second”.  And even on days when I have extraordinarily high word counts (yesterday: goal of 2000, wrote over 5000) it’s not enough because the book isn’t done.  And apparently there is some voice in the back of my mind that if this doesn’t get 100% done by the time baby 2 arrives, it will never get done.

And maybe that’s where this pressure is coming from.  When Kid 1 was born, I wrote while he was an infant…but once he started napping less and needing my attention more, I very much fell away from it.  Now that Kid 1 is older, I’m not always going to be able to sit down at my computer while Baby 2 is napping.  And maybe, in the back of my mind, I feel like if I don’t finish this now, I just won’t.

But at what price?  Writing has become more of a pressure/stress thing for me these days than a pleasure.  And that, to me, is even worse than the thought of never getting this manuscript done.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try (TRY) to eliminate some of the pressure.  No more wordcount quotas.  Or, if there are some, they will be very low.  Instead I am simply going to ‘write’ every day.  I’d rather spin off a brilliant short vignette of 500 words than kill myself trying to dredge up 3000 on a day when I’m not feeling into it.  I don’t know how successful I’ll be: today I tried that method and was still all proud of myself for blowing the original wordcount away.

But I clearly do need to re-centre.  And I need to put writing back into the middle of that as something I turn to for relaxation – not something that has become a huge stress-factor in my life that I need to find some relief from.

PS – One of my favourite websites, Zen Habits has in-depth discussions about how living without goals can be a path towards happiness and meaning.  After last night’s conversation, I went and re-read some of the posts on it…it seems so hard to imagine living that way but also doable and well worth it.  We’ll see how this goes.