A reminder to myself that forming good habits is always harder than I hope it will be

I broke the chain. I didn’t write yesterday.

I thought I might have some energy to pound out 411 words when I got to my mom’s place — perhaps not in blogging, but in something countable at least. A short bit of crappy fiction, a poem about my day, or a blog post for Monday morning that I could edit when I woke up. Maybe I’d even reach 750 words!

This did not happen. Yesterday was a day full of travel and it was a pretty shitty day on top of that. My car was too full for me to nap in the back seat on the ferry rides, as I usually do, so I was awake the full trip. By the time I reached my mom’s house, I’d been up for 13 hours. My brain was fried. I was ready to sleep right then but I forced myself to stay up, because I knew if I went to bed too early I’d wake up at 2am and be unable to get back to sleep.

Something similar had already happened on Sunday, even though I’d gone to bed late. I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t seem to get back into slumber, to wake up when my alarm was set (6:30). I sighed and got out of bed and started to finish doing the laundry. I thought, briefly to myself, that maybe I should sit down and write my 411 words right then. I decided against it, thinking laundry and packing the car were higher priorities.

The thing is, I was only half right. Packing the car was a higher priority if I wanted to make a morning ferry, but I had 2 extra hours during which I mainly folded and hung up clothes. That wasn’t a priority — I didn’t get the house as clean as I was planning, so a little bit of extra mess in the form of clean clothes sitting on the couch wouldn’t really matter, in the long run. I could have stopped at sorting and then sat down to do my words.

I let my brain get the better of me in convincing me I didn’t need to do my daily words just then, and I ended up with a wordless day.

I suppose I could have sat down when I got to mom’s place and pounded out 750 words of nonsense on 750words.com, getting my count in and not breaking the streak, the chain. But that’s not the point of writing every day.

The point is to write something of substance. If the point were to just get the streak badges on 750words, or to pad my yearly wordcount, then I could just copy past several paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum and call it a day.

The point is to form a daily writing habit. 750words.com, Don’t Break the Chain, Get Your Words Out, Inking It Out, the spreadsheets those communities provide — these are tools to keep me on track. They are not the habit itself. The habit comes from me; the discipline comes from my own head — the part that’s not trying to constantly sabotage anything good in my life.

I let the saboteur win yesterday, and I regret it. I’m not repeating that mistake. Let January 5th, 2014, be the only day this year where I do not sit down to write something.

Every day, in every way…

I feel as if I’m simultaneously taking on too much and not enough at the same time. It’s an odd sensation.

On the one hand, I’ve been incredibly productive since the year began. On the other, I’ve noticed my tendency to get distracted is in full swing. Often I need to hit a point that’s just below overwhelm to actually accomplish things; if I have too little to do, I procrastinate, and if I have too much, I escape from the stress by doing anything except what I’m supposed to.

I cleared up some necessary things in the first few days of the year, striking them off my to-do list. Right now I’m looking at trying to finish cleaning my house so I can go visit my mom in Powell River. Yes, it needs to be spotless before I leave. Is it? Not remotely.

I worked as hard as I could yesterday doing this, as well as several other necessary things. (For example, writing every day — while a pleasure for me — is a necessary item. I view it as something I may not skip out on. Thus, I sat down to start a story and maybe write 750 words yesterday, and ended up penning just over 3,000. This morning I finished the story with another 1,144. It’s fantastic that I’m going so far over my word count goal, putting me far ahead of my current YTD goal for both Get Your Words Out and Inking It Out, but I need to reel it in a bit — if I expend too much of my momentum in one day, I often think to myself I can skip the next day. The point is to build up a steady habit of writing, not continue in the cycle of boom and bust.)

I think I’m just way too tired, physically, today. When I woke up this morning I could barely make it to the kitchen to get the coffee I so obviously needed. And my body did that thing it likes to do, again, where I went to bed at 10 pm so it woke me up at 3am for no particular reason. Luckily I was able to fall asleep again, but I slept in — instead of waking up at 5:30, I woke up at 6:45.

So I’m working on cleaning as fast as I can, but trying not to overtax myself. I’m having a big breakfast and moving as my back allows. I still have hopes of leaving by noon, which will put me at my mom’s place sometime in the early evening, depending on the ferry.

Here’s to continuing productivity, even if I would have rather stayed in bed a bit longer. Every day in every way, I chip away at my undisciplined self, reaching the productive adult I know lies somewhere within. Deep, deep within.