Considering I didn’t even muster the weekly checkup posts past week 3, it should come as no surprise that I’ve failed, at least in the traditional sense, to give up “not writing” for Lent. When you get right down to it, I wrote probably half the days, maybe less, and the closer it got to Easter, the less I wrote. I just didn’t make it the priority I should have, and while I can point fingers and fussy toddlers and gestating babies, I made the choices I made and they didn’t include writing as often as I’d expected.
BUT! I’m still putting this experiment in the “win” column. As I mentioned when I started this, the true reason I participate in Lent is to change bad habits. I’ve done that. I haven’t found a 30-minute niche in my daily schedule to write, sadly, but let’s face it, I can’t stick to a schedule as it is with all the chaos happening these days. I wrote more in those 40-ish days, in a variety of places for a variety of audiences, than I have in quite a while. This bad habit may not have been “fixed” but I certainly put a considerable dent in it.
Most importantly, I pulled my fiction writing motivation out of the muck, which was the goal within the goal. I started off strong, elaborating on a dream, but once I got through “the moment” that was motivating me to write, I didn’t feel like continuing on to the next part of those characters’ story. This left me floundering a bit, but that didn’t last long. Old ideas crept back into my brain and forced me to pay attention. The simple act of thinking back on those stunted stories was enough to keep me going. I spent lots of my not-writing time thinking about what I’d write if I had the time. Insomnia is good for that. All that re-awakening lead to some new thoughts on old works that I briefly entertained (mentally if not always on paper), but it kept me fed.
My really-real goal for Lent was to kick-start my fiction-writing brain so that when it was over, I could pick up where I left off on my “Epic Idea” way back last August. I’ve been afraid of starting the actual writing process for this idea because I know it’s “The One” and I don’t want to start it until I’m really ready. I even pushed it aside for last year’s NaNoWriMo because I felt I needed to practice with a similar type of storytelling. Until the world is fleshed out and the history is fleshed out, I don’t feel like I can safely start telling the story. I wanted to get closer to being able to start it, and since I’d decided that notes and outlines didn’t count for Lent, I’d set everything aside for some sort of Easter-related celebration. I needed to earn them.
I’ll never know. Just before Lent was over, without checking any of my notes, simply with the strands of story that still lingered in my head, it began to surface amid all the other stories bouncing about in my brain. A new beginning and a new way to introduces a few key characters emerged. I didn’t wait until Lent was over to get the new ideas down, and over the past few weeks, I’ve felt my mind glue itself to this story. It’s still not where I want to it to be to start writing, but the characters are starting to take real shape and are helping shape their world and history (like they do). Specific scenes have started writing themselves and I’ve been taking notes on the actual story as much as the history.
It’s a great place to be, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s Mission Accomplished for Lent 2010.
I experienced a bonus, too. About half-way through Lent I realized that not only had my writing motivation stagnated, but so had my reading. I had such literary plans for the first part of this year, and they fell ridiculously flat. For some reason I’ve got a mental block the most recent murmur book club title and I couldn’t even begin it. I still haven’t read past the first paragraph. I don’t know what that’s about (my reluctance, not the book), but I plan on reading it this week and including that in my (now out of date) review.
I’m going to need some help staying motivated through the coming months, and nothing motivates me like crossing something off a list. To that end, I’ve been using a web application called TeuxDeux to keep track of miscellaneous tasks and chores. During Lent, I used it to keep track of all my missed writing days (although I moved seriously out of date days to the “Someday” tab so that they wouldn’t be so depressing). Once I clear out my past-due writing days, I’m going to keep that up. I’ve also added weekly reading goals. On Sunday I add 3 of each for the week and tag them with the month/week in the title so I don’t just have a list of “read” “read” “read”. I’ll cross them off as they’re accomplished. When the week is over, any that I “missed” will be moved to “Someday” to be picked up on particularly accomplish-ful weeks.
Because I’ll have those. Right?