So I did it: I hit my 50,000-word goal for the month. I’m actually a little shocked that I managed to do this. I’m not exactly known for following through on my plans in a timely manner. Hell, I’m not even big on following through on my plans! For reference, here is a short list of the things I said I was going to do in the last few years, and still have not finished:
- I was going to get a part-time job for a two or three years maybe and pay down a bunch of my debt. I was going to stop spending, and just work constantly to pay off my credit cards, and then look at graduate school. I’ve been at my job four years now, and am in slightly more debt than before (damn interest!). I am no closer to paying off my debt than I was four years ago.
- When I moved into this house, I had a three-year plan. I was going to save up for $3,000 to pay the first and last months rent on an apartment, and then buy some furniture. While I’m proud to say that I’ve saved up more than that amount of money, it’s been more than four years since I moved in here. And I’m no closer to moving out of here than I was back then.
- The whole “save for an apartment” idea started to turn to crap when one crappy management company started buying up as much property in this city as they could. So the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I started talking about buying a house. I decided to start saving up the downpayment, using what I had already saved for an apartment. More than 8 months later, and we’re no closer to buying a home in this area than we were back then. Yes, I saved up some of the money we need, but it just never seems like enough.
- I was going to wait a year or two after graduation to apply to grad school. I figured that would give me time to gather up some of the research I needed to give my application an edge over the others. More than four years later, still haven’t even started it.
- I have some milk crates I made into shelves in the corner of the bedroom, and they seem to collect junk. I’ve been putting “clean off crate shelves” on my to-do list for months. Think they’re clean yet?
I just seem to let things go for too long. When I do follow through with something, it’s usually in a last minute panic. I put things off and put things off, and wait until they snowball into this massive task that is so intimidating it’s scary to even think about starting it. I think that living such an unstructured life, with nothing but my job giving me any sort of schedule or deadlines to follow, just makes me lazy.
You see, in university, I thrived on the chaos. One year I had four classes a semester, was a researcher for a Criminology professor, and a teaching assistant for a Sociology professor. On top of that, I was on the Board of Directors for an organization on campus and was the chair of their Events Planning and Fundraising committee. I also volunteered in the Academic Advising office, work with the Welcome Week team to run events the start of each semester, gave tours to prospective students and their parents, worked in public speaking a recruitment for the club that ran Welcome Week and did my usual charity work with my friends through their fraternity. I had two dry erase calendars on my wall: a one month calendar and a four-month calendar. I colour co-ordinated my schedule, using different colours for charity work and class work and for each job. I could somehow manage to make it to class 7 times a week, write two 2,500 word research papers, gather 350 website links for a professor’s research, monitor 100+ threads in an online discussion board for the class I was assisting, and still manage to make it to a charity kegger on Friday night. I was on fire back then.
The closer I got to graduation, the harder it got to keep on top of things. It was like I knew that this chaos was going to end soon and that there was nothing to replace it. Without the pressure, and the deadlines, and other people depending on me to get things done on time, there just seemed like nothing could motivate me. Then, just days after writing my very last exam for my first degree, I had the allergic reaction that resulted in 94 days of hives. I seriously couldn’t do anything when that happened. It was the middle of summer, and sweating made the hives worse. Moving made the hives worse. Basically, I sat on the couch and ate fast food, because being around the hot stove made the hives worse. I packed on 60lbs that summer and did absolutely nothing.
Ever since then, I haven’t been able to get back into the swing of things. The odd time I do have some sort of deadline to get things done, I rock that out like nothing else. But for the most part, I don’t do much these days. The pile of books I’ve been meaning to read is growing, and I just never take the time to read them. I haven’t done a massive clean-out of the bedroom in almost three years now, even though I mean to every spring and fall. I’ve started writing projects and just tossed them aside after a few weeks if they even last that long. I even went out and bought yarn and knitting needles, and can’t seem to find the motivation to sit around and attempt to knit. My usual schedule has become: wake up, make coffee, read random shit online. Shower, put on make-up, watch reruns of something I’ve seen 97 times already. Read random shit online, text AAB, get ready for work. Walk to work, work my usual closing shift, catch a ride home with a co-worker. Come home, pour a glass or two of wine, eat dinner, read Buzzfeed, go to bed. I don’t do anything!
This month kind of changed things. I was pushed to write every day. The NaNoWriMo website has a word count tracker on your stats page. Every single day I would write on here, and then go log how many words I wrote. I caught myself making lists of topics to work on later. I put reminders in my phone, shoved bits of paper with ideas scribbled on them in my phone case, and started carrying a very small notebook in my sweater pocket at work. I even started working on the piece I have decided will close out the month, which I started jotting down in a notebook almost 8 months ago! I’ve made notes, and research, and looked into more things to help with my writing. I was actually driven this month to accomplish something.
And you know what? I feel good. I’ve been happier this month. AAB has seen a change in me too I think. When I don’t work a closing shift, as soon as I get home we catch up with each other and then he tells me to go relax and work on my writing while he cooks. Doing NaNoWriMo not only let me get back into writing for myself, but it gave AAB the chance to discover that he is a fantastic cook.
So what’s next? It’s only November for a few more days, and then NaNoWriMo is over. A big part of me is worried that I’ll become lost again. Another part of me has a plan though. I’m trying to make a little word tracker of my own to use until next year. I mean, I love making spreadsheets. I’m sure I can work on up for each month to track myself. I still have a bunch of topics leftover that I didn’t use this month. And my big piece-du-resistance for the end of the month is the sort of thing I can continue, maybe make it a seasonal piece.
I don’t think I’ll be as motivated as I was this month, writing every single day almost. But I’m going to push myself to hit a goal every month again. I’m going to give myself something to work towards, keep jotting down those topics and planning posts out in my head. And you know what? This seems like something I just may be able to stick with for once.