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Why Third Time is the Charm

NaNoWriMo Winn

I’ve tried it twice, and they say third times the charm, so maybe this year is my year. I’m going to do it. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. I confirmed my account. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. People have done. I can do it too. At least I thought I could, hence the third try.

The first time I tried I prepared a bit. I had heard about it, just as it completed the year before, so I had a whole year to consider work of literary genius I’d produce the coming November. As it turned out, not much. I got 2302 words in. My first sentence wasn’t that bad either:

“According to the law of averages Shoshana should have been married with 3.5 kids, living in Lakewood, her husband starting to burn out in Yeshiva and considering work – or chinuch, which isn’t as dirty a word as work. “

But then unlike the character I was working on one of my 3.5 kids, number 2 actually, and the unique fatigue that cannot be fought of the first trimester won. And there went my masterpiece.

Does a second attempt count if I just thought about it? Colicky babies won that round. And this year…what will stop me this year? I’m sure it’ll be valid, super important, and meaningful, but stopping me nonetheless.

There are always things stopping me from achieving. Valid, super important, and meaningful, check, check, and check, husband, kids, home, family, they come before a lot of things. As they should, and I love them, and chose them. But I do want to learn to play guitar, and I took out 3 books from the library. I watched endless tutorial on YouTube, and went to specialty store to learn to make Jewelry, but little fingers with big mouths stopped me from pursuing either.

And then came Coursera, the free online college course site. I signed up for a class on Modern Poetry last year. I barely made though the first poem, “The Poison Tree” by William Blake, when my sister got engaged, and what with the l’chaim and vort, I missed the first assignment deadline, and didn’t bother signing in again. A year later they sent me a website that said basically, “Hey, you didn’t complete the course last year, do you want to try again?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, the course syllabus has seemed a bit dull last year, but in the e-mail were links to recommended courses, Intro to Songwriting, and Intro to Social Psychology. Both of them were 6 weeks long, one started beginning August, the other 3 weeks later. I signed up for both.

Second time around bore no fruit. I did one week’s coursework and then came bein hazmanim and vacation, and kids and husband around all day. No time, and no work done. I was disappointed, again, but my excuses were so valid, family comes first, right? And I was able to enjoy my road trip to Florida and make endless barbeques without worrying about deadlines.

Two weeks later another e-mail arrived in my inbox, reminding me of the upcoming social psychology course. I always loved psychology, was fascinated by it. I really really really wanted to complete this course, not just for the star on my chart that I completed something, but I wanted the knowledge.

Third times the charm worked, well, like a charm this time. The course was intriguing, stimulating, enthralling, and I didn’t miss a minute. I completed all the assignments, participated on the discussion boards, and bored everyone with everything I learned. And it was then that I discovered that I had plenty of time to pursue my interest, and my family and responsibilities were not in my way of me fulfilling my potential – I was. I wasn’t so busy and burdened with life, I was just straight up lazy.

My kids are in bed by 7, husband home by 7:30, supper cleaned up, by 8:30. Ok, there are some papers to mark, some prepping to be done, some laundry to fold, quality time to be spent, but really, I averaged going to sleep around 12 o’clock, what was I doing in that time? Playing a lot of Candy Crush, that’s what.  And flipping through Drudge Report, with news that has me wondering how this world still stands, I breathe. That’s what I always called it, breathing.

“I need time to breathe.” I always say. Time to do nothing, unwind, chill, if you will. I never really breathed; it would just put me to sleep. Write something! I’d yell at myself sometimes. Wash and set your shaitel, the voice would yell other times! Call someone! Stop being so antisocial, is another cry. And I’d always counter with my need to breathe, my need to do nothing. Everyone needs downtime I’d tell it patiently.

But then there are those times that I listened to that big voice in my head, where I exert the effort. And it’s always exhilarating. I feel so great, and accomplished, and happy. Come the next night though and I’m back to Candy Crush. After completing my social psychology course, I know now that it’s not my need of air that keeps me from doing, rather my lazy tendencies and rationalization.

So it’s NaNoWriMo again. And I want to do it. Just it being the third time isn’t going to make it happen this time. But my self-awareness which comes from trying three times.

 

(I wrote this post November 3rd, not sure why I didn’t post it then, maybe I was too nervous if I didn’t complete it, how mortified as well as disappointed I’d be. Anyway, I finished it. All 50, 000 words. No excuses, even if my grandfather passed away in November and there was the levaya and shiva and the emotional drain which would have been a very acceptable excuse. I just proved it to myself even more, the only thing in the way of my achieving is myself.)

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Slice of Life, Writing

 

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Depressing Discoveries

I’ll write when I have time, is what I and every aspiring, but lazy writer says. I have ideas, I wrote 5 books – in my head, but pen to paper, never happens.

I’m different, I said. I REALLY don’t have time. No excuses. There is no time. Teaching, prepping, marking papers, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing and plain old mommying (just as I sat down to write this my son came with a Dr. Suess book “Mommy, read a ducky feet!”), make up my entire day, there is no time for jotting down a few epiphanies.

Then my sister got engaged, and is now married (Mazal Tov RL!!!) and I wanted to give her a special gift. Nothing you can buy in the store (Can’t afford that anyway), but something from the heart, practical, and hand- made for her – a cookbook, with a monthly menu, and tips for the kitchen (When you have no time – use the stovetop. No patience – the oven).

I remembered when I first got married how overwhelming the whole kitchen experience was. Forget about the actual cooking, where I had zero to little experience, what I found most frustrating and anxiety provoking was deciding what to make in the first place. Once I knew what I was making, everything was much easier and focused. My sister has about the same cooking experience as me, and I figured she’d probably fall prey to the same mental torture as me, hence the menu.

Of course, since I have no time, this cookbook seemed to be more like a pipedream than an actuality. But I really wanted to do it, just like I really want to write. The wedding got closer and closer, and one morning I woke up and the Shabbos Kallah was a less than week away. And it was the end of the term, insane marking, essays, quizzes, rubrics, averages – big pain, little time.

I really wanted to do it though, so I did. I just did. I sat down, and did it. I even went to Amazing Savings to buy a nice loose-leaf (awesome store!), and then the Dollar Tree for sheet protectors (AS didn’t have). It was done in a night and day. That was it. Probably took about 6 hours total. I don’t know where I found the time. Everything I usually do in that time was accomplished too.

It’s motivating to realize that if I want to do something, it will get done. Very depressing though to realize I maybe don’t want to write as much I think I do.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Food, Musings, Slice of Life

 

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NaNoWriMo Woes

I don’t know why I thought I could do it. I couldn’t even manage to blog once a week for a year, and there I was signing up NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, write a 50,000 word novel during the duration of November, about 1,700 words daily). It just seemed like a good idea to just get it all out. Have that push, that makes you actually do something.

So I wrote a basic outline of chapters, and that’s it. Figured the rest would come. No character planning, development of conflict on a deeper level, or solid sequence of events. Just making it all up as I’d go along, I’m pretty good at winging things.

The first day went well, and I wrote over 1,800 words. The second day, I only remembered at 11:30 that my word count was looking a bit low for the day, and so I wrote about 550. Then I got stuck, because I realized, I hated the very distant and detached narrator I had chosen to voice my story. And I stopped.

Then, tonight I reread what I wrote, it’s not so bad. Maybe I should continue, but I have a lot to make up. Then again one thing I really enjoyed about the writing so far, was just doing it, no second guessing. On NaNoWriMo website, they stress that it’s not about writing the next Anna Karenina, it’s about stopping your inner critic, that says you just wrote a load of _____, and just finish it. The revision and editing come later. And I found reminding myself of that purpose really helped me move forward – in those two days of course.

What to do now? Say wait till next year. Try to catch up and inevitably fail because, well, I have a lot more to do than make sure I sit down every day and write 1,700 words. Or say “Tooyoungtoteach, it was a wonderful go, but this is not your thing.”

(On the site they recommend the participants to tell everyone they know that they plan on making a go for it, as a source of motivation not to embarrass yourself when people start asking how it’s going…I think I’m a bit too late for that though.)

 

 

 

 
12 Comments

Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Humor, Writing

 

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