A couple of months ago now, I wrote seven blog posts in seven days along with a slew of bloggy friends.
That week was a CRAZY week.
I had so much going on. I had people in town, extra mouths to feed, a baptism party to plan. Jacob was working twelve hours a day including Saturdays and Sundays. It was nuts, but I still somehow managed to pull it off. How? I'm sitting down today to reflect on that question. How did I write seven posts in such a full week, when I can't pull off more than a measly 1.5 in slimmer ones.
I loved writing so much that week. It was a challenge that I reveled in. I looked forward to clicking the publish button. I would draft posts in my head while doing brainless tasks like folding laundry instead of thinking about things like my teeth. I used to think that posting regularly would water down my content because I’m not that creative. But then I realized that - ahem - this is a blog, and I don't know the precise definition of a blog, but I would vote that it contain something about "the occasional watery content."
So why did it work that week? I've mulled it over and these are my non-brilliant answers:
It worked because I decided it was going to work.
I treated my blog like a priority. Not even a big priority, just a priority. I remembered to set my alarm to get up early and write. I finished blogposts in the dark hours after everyone had gone to bed. I didn’t love all those moments, but I loved the activity of posting everyday. Of setting a goal and sticking to it.
It worked because I could do it in increments.
One excellent thing about writing is that you can stop it - when a child interrupts you, you can close your laptop and walk away. Now, walking away is is never ideal, but the ability to do it is a perk. Have you ever tried something like sewing during naptime before your infant sleeps for a reliable amount of time? It just doesn’t work. Every time I consider gearing up for some naptime needling, I imagine myself knee deep in a project when the baby cries, and while nursing her back down, the toddler wakes up and pins and needles and scissors and funfunfunfunfunfun. So while I love myself a good sewing sesh, it ain’t happening until the littlest familial is a more reliable sleeper.
So my glorious afternoon napping time has to be filled with something that can be interrupted. Writing fits the bill.
Embrace your interrupted time, mom.
It worked because I got a little help.
One other thing that was unique about my seven posts in seven days: Jacob made a priority of my blogging efforts.
I felt silly asking him to do this: "Honey, I know that you work all the time and I barely get dinner made at night, but I wanted to take on a project that will make approximately $0.34 in Amazon affiliate links, and I need you to step up your kid-watching game so I can."
But you know what? He said of course and then solicited my resident-brother to help too. Jacob helped because he likes it that I write. He likes that I keep a family blog. He wanted me to succeed. Can you believe husbands?
It worked because the creative fire fueled itself.
Jen’s got me thinking all about this because of her Family First Creative E-book. So much insight in that little sucker. I gobbled it up. Or perhaps it was more of an inhale. I inhaled it up. And then I exhaled a happier human. It’s great. Get yourself one before the time runs out (i.e. in the next two hours.)
Anyhow, in her ebook, Jen writes about how writing gives her energy. So I've been organizing my daily activities on a spectrum with soul-sucking on one end and life-giving on the other. Blogging energizes me. I tend to be a better mother and wife on days when I post on the blog.
This fact has me noticing Jacob's life-giving habits too. Take these two examples:
Scene 1: The other day Jacob worked one small job in the morning and then took my car into the mechanic in the afternoon. He was stuck at the mechanic for over three hours watching an ain't-my-baby reality show and came home afterwards miserable and utterly exhausted. It made no sense: he’d just gone and sat in a chair without anyone drooling on him or pulling his hair for three full hours, which is more of a vacation than I’ve had since October, and yet he seemed zapped of all lifeblood.
Scene 2: On a different day Jacob left for work early in the morning, worked hard till the afternoon, came home, turned around and built a fence in the corner of the yard where he planned to put the beehives and worked worked worked until dark. Did I love that he was busy drilling his fence together while I juggled babies and made dinner? No, sirree. Did I feel generally entitled to much more husbandly help than I was getting? You betcha. But that man waltzed into dinner and was so alive. I tried to put on my exhausted-and-it’s-all-your-fault face, but he was so happy it was contagious. He loves hard work. He really likes his job. He really likes hammering things. He really likes his bees. He looked at me with eyes full of gratitude and smiled right through all my frustration and said: “Can I give you a back rub tonight?"
All this to say - pursuing hobbies that we love is important, not only to encourage a life outside of our primary identities as parents/spouses/railroad workers/etc but also because it blesses the people around us to see us thriving.
It worked because I told people I was going to do it.
Say it with me: Public Shame.
That’s the kind of motivation I need.
To blog more I will have to make a commitment to it, and it has to be a public one because my secret commitments never work.
You get what you measure, they say they say, so today on April 28th - because April 28ths are as good a day as any - I commit to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the rest of 2014. Eeek. If I fail I will scribble a luscious scarlet A for Almost onto the nearest piece of scratch paper, tape it to my shirt, and Hester Prynne a picture of myself wearing it right here for all to see.
Stakes = high.
If you want to level up your blogging and need a similar kick in the kiester, I encourage you to shout it from the blogtops and, in favorite words of the world’s newest saint, be not afraid.
And in the queue for Wednesday: toddler fashion.