As many of you know, I’ve been exploring small habits one at a time throughout the year. In October, I committed to attempting my version of the Write31days challenge: I decided I’d try to post as many days of the month as possible.
Here are some things I learned…
I can make time.
Writing has always, always been a thing that I’ve done “in the cracks.” I sit and type when I have a chunk of time and something in my head to say. Last month I learned that, with very few exceptions, I can make it happen.
The more I write, the more there is to write.
Starting out, I figured I’d be able to find a good week’s worth of posts to write. I had a few that I’d started in my “drafts” folder that I could flesh out, and a few others kind of bubbling in the back of my head. I really had no idea what would happen once those were used up.
I’ve known for the last several years that the more frequently I thank God for little gifts He’s given, the more gifts I am able to see. Shawn Achor explains in his TED talk how practicing gratitude rewires our brains to look for gifts (and improves happiness.) I think writing is similar. The more I wrote, the more I was looking for the lessons and grace in whatever I saw, so I had more thoughts in my brain that could become a couple hundred words. Sitting and waiting for inspiration (my normal practice) isn’t necessary.
The more I write, the better I feel.
This hardly counts as a thing I learned. I know writing makes me come alive. And alive, while sometimes terrifying, is a good way to feel. In October, I was sitting in some tragedy. I believe that, though I didn’t realize what kind of month I was going to have, the decision to write a lot more than normal was providential. It kept my heart looking up and looking around for gifts and for grace, and kept me processing a lot of the Big Feelings I was having.
The more I write, the crappier my housekeeping is.
…and there’s the big catch. I can find words and motivation to write most days. I can even manage to steal a couple hours to do it quite frequently. (My average blog post runs probably 90 minutes to two hours from sitting down to sharing it with you all.) But I can’t do all that every day and keep my home in the kind of order that feels best to me and stay fully engaged with my kids. (Most of those posts happened while the little two napped and the bigger two had screen time. I’m philosophically ok with this amount of screen time on occasion, but they get awfully squirrelly if I utilize the electronic babysitter too long or too frequently.) My laundry piled up, either to wash or to fold and put away. Dishes stayed undone. None of this sounds like a big deal. And really it isn’t unless you appreciate the kind of mental energy drain caused for me by that constant disorder.
Sometimes the benefit outweighs the cost.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
I want to find a rhythm that allows me to write more frequently than once a week (or 2-3 times a month, as the case may be) while still maintaining basic order. I have no idea what that rhythm might be. For now, I’m going to shoot for two to three posts per week, not because there’s any magic to that frequency so much as that it’s something to try and seems like a reasonable starting point in the quest for balance.
The month is a quarter over already. (Can you believe this? I think it’s a trick of the later months of the year. Christmas is pretty much tomorrow, and I’m likely unprepared for it.) Since it’s already passing and I’m just now considering habits, I’m going to go with one that I already kind of accidentally kept.
My hope for November (and it’s a little nebulous) is to show up as authentically as possible in my relationships.
I’m pretty sure that’s its own post (or possibly series) so I’ll save the stories for next time. (Please come back! I’m kind of excited about it.)