Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Lessons of 2012 - Pt 2

Photo courtesy of Jade on
Last time, I shared what I've been up to over the course of about the last year as far as writing and editing. So what has all this writing, editing and tracking madness taught me, you may wonder. Well, here it is in a nutshell:

1 - I'm capable of far more than I ever dreamed possible. I've spent years selling myself short, doubting myself and my abilities. The Lord has used the last year to show me He's gifted me far above what I ever imagined. But, I have to choose to utilize those gifts. He won't make me do it. But you know what? I'm much happier, content and at peace when I go with His flow instead of my own.

2 - Stretching is a good thing, regardless of the outcome. Being stretched isn't all that comfortable, particularly when we aren't sure about the outcome. Will we succeed? Or will we fail? If you're anything like me, going into something without knowing you can have victory over it can be a very scary thing. But if we don't try, and risk failure in the process, we go nowhere. If we stretch and fail, did we make progress? I bet we did, and we probably learned some stuff in the process. So stretch for that goal even if it feels just out of reach.

3 - I need to be kinder to myself. I tend to set way more reasonable goals for others than I do for myself. In fact, the goals I've often set for myself weren't just unreasonable, they were often unattainable. Funny contradiction to what I wrote above, isn't it? Not really. At least, those of you who are perfectionists probably recognize the dichotomy of ideas there. (See my posting about Flylady and writing if you're curious about more on this.) It's okay to set a goal and give myself permission to not meet it. If I don't make my writing or editing goal for any given month, the world won't end.

Come to think of it, if the world does end because I don't make my goal, YAY!!! I'd certainly trade this life for eternity with the Lord. Wouldn't you?

4 - I put this last, but it's hardly the least important. In fact, it's a doozy.

I work best if I work WITH my body and brain instead of against it. Not exactly a startling revelation, I know. But maybe not as obvious as you would expect. Sure, I have to make sure I get up and move around when I write a lot, or my back and shoulders get REALLY unhappy about too many hours in front of the computer. And I have to make sure I don't get so involved with my writing that I forget to eat, go the bathroom, get things to drink, etc. You know. All those mundane things life requires. But I'm talking about more than that.

With all the writing I've done in the last year as a result of ACFW's Novel Track, NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I've noticed definite patterns and trends to the way I work. Not just to writing or editing, but when I do best with both. I have struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka S.A.D.) for a good portion of my life. (Contrary to popular belief, yes, you can struggle with this even in sunny Arizona, depending on the severity of the case. I don't even want to think about living with it in less sunny climates. It's bad enough as it is in Arizona, thank you very much.) As a result, I've spent many years dreading the onset of winter with the shorter days of sunlight. As I tell people, "Winter and I are not friends."

But I think this winter will be different because the last year has taught me something valuable. I do my best, and most productive, writing during the winter months. Who knew!?!? I've realized with all the tracking I've done this past year that my creativity flows much stronger and clearer during the winter. Summer? Bah! Oh, I can write during the summer, as proved by two successful Camp NaNo adventures. But it's not the same. In winter, the ideas flow fast, easy and feel like a flood at times like opening a faucet fully. In summer, it more resembles pulling teeth. With a spoon and no anesthesia. June, I struggled. July, I took a break (sort of anyway). August, I struggled.

Here's the interesting thing. Only writing is a struggle in summer. Editing is no problem. The opposite is true in winter. Editing in winter feels like trudging through half-frozen mud.

Which brings me back around to the S.A.D.

S.A.D. affects brain function and the brain's use of neurotransmitters and such. It's not there just in winter, as is commonly believed. It's there all year-round, affecting different parts of the brain at different times of the year. My brain shifts gears with changes in the seasons. When it does so, things that are easy part of the year became hard in another part. So writing in winter? Easy. Writing in summer? Hard. Editing in winter? Hard. Editing in summer? Easy. I'm not saying it doesn't require work when something is "easy". Anyone who has ever written knows even when the ideas really flow, it's work. But it's nowhere near as difficult to get it done when they're flowing as it is when you have to drag them out the rooms of your mind kicking and screaming.

This is what the last year has taught me, above and beyond everything else. My brain is hard-wired a certain way. And I need to learn to go with the flow, work WITH the cycles of my body instead of against it. God created me this way. Though at times I'm baffled by this and wonder what He was thinking, He knows best. I just have to accept it and learn to roll with it.

So what have I learned this year? To recognize the gifted woman God has made me to be and appreciate His wisdom in making me the way He has, even if it doesn't make much sense to me at times. To be more patient with myself when I'm unable to make goals or meet my own expectations (particularly if they're unreasonable), but to keep setting goals and stretching for them, even if the outcome isn't what I hoped for.

But more than all of that, for the first time in my life, I'm looking forward to winter. I can hardly wait to see what this coming winter holds as far as writing.

Another photo courtesy of Jade on

So what about you? What have you learned about yourself this past year?

No comments:

Post a Comment