This was a very good, important idea.
I am going to need to think about this regarding Weekly Words. Obviously I really appreciate what Weekly Words has been doing for me, and I’d like to keep that up. But it’s clear to me that word-count alone is not what I need – or even want – to be focusing on right now. At least not for 10k words a week.
Part of that is because one of the conclusions I have come to over these two detox days is that I have a lot more than one kind of writing to do in order for my process to really work for me, and a lot of it is just being silly and having fun with my ideas. The other night, because it was about 4am and I wasn’t asleep because why would I be, I started coming up with stupid place names for the world in one of my projects, and iterated on the names for a good quarter of an hour just to make myself laugh. Now that seems kind of like “yeah, so what”, but I realised that not only did I do something that I enjoyed, but it also got me more invested in the project. And then I realised: this silly improvisational self-amusement is my natural mode; this is how I invest myself in my projects, the way I naturally express my enthusiasm, just throwing ideas around and workshopping them on the spot. And it’s something I’ve discouraged myself from doing, distracted myself from doing, for a very long time. I have internalised a lot of “writing advice” sort of logic regarding writing over the years, and I’m fairly sure I’ve made a lot of it up through a combination of only half paying attention to the actual advice I’ve been exposed to, and my own ingrained self-sabotaging habits that turn everything into an ever-escalating shame marathon. For all that I’ve written about having to make writing work for you and not pushing yourself to do things that just don’t work, it seems I have not been taking my own advice. I don’t let myself do things that I know work for me when I have some reason, however, flimsy, to think it’s “stupid” or “irrelevant”. It actually makes me pretty angry, seeing just how pointlessly pedantic I have gotten about my writing process over time, and how many opportunities I’ve missed because of these awful habits.
Yesterday, I identified the biggest issue for me – besides distraction, which these two days have been good for countering as well – which was self-sabotage through shifting my own goalposts and making it impossible for me to meet my own standards, because they keep changing. Inconsistency. Today, I identified one of my biggest strengths: letting myself do things my way. And that means taking time to give myself the opportunity to do that, which is what these past two days have done for me. In fact, I got pretty much everything I wanted out of these past two days: I revisited some old projects, identified what I liked about them, what got me to work on them or what held me back from doing so, found that I was actually still quite interested in some of them even after not working on them for so long, and got back in touch with what was going on with me and what I feel most drawn to. A chance to check in with myself. I now know I need to do that far more often.
And all of this thanks to pen and paper. Never will I be without it again. So sayeth the Ubermensch!