Since the start of November means the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), I feel the need to make my Writing – and my writing support – To-Do list public: for accountability and to show the whole picture.
I have come to understand that I can’t just say I will write every day on a certain project or subject or in a certain genre; the crucial part is setting my life up to prioritize and value writing and to integrate it into everything else I have to do to be healthy.
With my chronic health issues and tendency toward depression, I have to make everything make sense. Barreling through without proper nourishment or hydration, drinking coffee, and staying up late are not options for me. Sustainability is the name of the game.
First: When to write. To ensure that I can make the time when I won’t be distracted, and to make sure I’m well rested, the whole plan for early morning writing starts the night before. I need to get to bed by 9:30 having turned off the screen by 8:45 and having done some yoga and a short meditation. That means I have to get the kids to bed earlier so that I still have time to deal with email, clean the kitchen, and possibly talk to my husband. I’m hoping the earlier darkness will make earlier bedtimes possible.
Since I’ve gotten back into morning exercise, I’ve felt a lot better, so I am not going to ditch that. Exercise is key for my mental and physical health. Walks and more yoga during the day are good to add, but it’s best to get both writing and exercise done when there are no emails coming in and no food to prepare. When the wifi isn’t even on.
On a weekend, like today, I will write first because I can get on the elliptical or the yoga mat after the kids wake up, either letting my husband make breakfast, or just pushing our eating time a little later.
On weekdays, though, when breakfast needs to be ready (and made by me) by 7:10 a.m., I’m going to exercise first. Otherwise just know I will start writing and never stop in order to exercise. If Daylight Savings Time wreaks havoc and the kids start getting up earlier than 6:40, I’ll shift the order!
Second: What to write. While I would love to shut out the world for 40 minutes every morning to work on my novel, I’ve decided that the best approach for long-term success is simply to start this month by committing to a daily morning writing habit and trying to clear out some of the brain clutter.
I will always have stories to write and reflection to do; it’s not like I’m ever going to be “done” with regular life and find the perfect moment to immerse myself in the novel. However, I am darn sure that adding a focus on the novel when there are all these other things nagging at me to get done would not be a recipe for success. To every thing a season, even if it doesn’t fit with a hashtag.
Sure, I loved it when I wrote a poem every day in November 2012, and I enjoyed starting out with daily blogging and work on my novel in November 2013 before my kids and I got sick and had to stop.
The name of the game for me this November is: to create the space for deeper creativity. To take care of many of the things that have been weighing on me for weeks or months. To put stuff out of my head and into the world. To get done some of the personal writing that I know will lighten my heart and create space for more beauty and for me to really welcome and embrace work on the novel.
What has been holding me back is an ever-growing list of things I want to address – from updates about my health, to stuff about my kids and parenting, to pieces for my site that have been kicking around way too long. I’m creating this list publicly as a form of accountability and also to lay bare the fact that writing is not about crafting one good essay in isolation. It is about writing. And writing. And writing.
I tend to have to do lots of writing (duh!) in order to see what is necessary and focus in. If I never do the long, the messy, I’m not going to get to the good. It’s just not going to happen. And while journaling for myself talking with others helps with mental clarity, it helps me a lot to write something I know might be seen by someone else. Even if it’s not polished or perfect, it needs to be findable, by me and by others. One of the purposes of writing a blog is to log what is going on. Being able to link back – literally and in my own head – is incredibly helpful.
Personal Writing To Do – on writing, on health, on personal growth
- This piece (gotta check it off!)
- Short overview of recent health improvements
- Longer piece about health discoveries including methylation issues, metabolism issues, Epstein-Barr virus, therapy
- Piece specifically about mental health, including insights from books Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal by Donna Jackson Nakazawa & Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza+ interview with Nakazawa
- Overview of health in 2013, 2014, 2015
- On setting boundaries in volunteerism, on setting goals with “career,” on conceiving of “identity” at 42
- On having aging parents and re-tracing childhood
- On going to therapy: working with The Wounded Child, Adapted Adult and Functional Adult paradigm
- On meditating and getting healing work
- On reading Harry Potter
Personal Writing To Do – on parenting
- What it sounds like in our home now
- What it smells like in our home now
- What it tastes like in our home now
- What it looks like in our home now
- Meeting children’s needs, and parents’ needs
- On reading Harry Potter with my son
Writing To Do for Mindful Healthy Life
- ALF Orthodontic Appliance with Bronson Family Dentistry
- Butekyo Breathing
- Campbell Elementary Outdoor Classroom
- Tips for Off-Kilter Kids
- Why it Matters What Our Childhood Was Like and the Way We Learned to Think (more on Childhood Disrupted and Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself)
- Local Schools and Clean Air Initiatives/Buses
- What I Learned About Parenting from Dr. Rene Hackney
- Waldorf Events – recap of PCWS Fall Festival and preview of WWS Fall Bazaar
- Tips for the Transition to Menopause (recap of Kelly Valceanu talk to Holistic Moms Network and intro to Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Western Science by Claudia Welch)
- Profile of local mom Jennifer Robins of Predominantly Paleo
- Profile of local mom Karen Brody of BOLD Tranquility
Pieces about a Product/Business/Service
- Haven on the Lake
- Cindy Santa Ana’s Unprocessed Living: 3 Easy Steps to Transition Into Healthy Eating – Q&A with author and also review of book and Cindy’s Unlock Better Health presentation at the Take Back Your Health Conference
- Paleo Passion Pops
- Dr. Rene Hackney’s 8 Weeks to Positive Discipline book
Writing To Do for other outlets
- Review of Encore Stage & Studio’s Hansel & Gretel (Nov. 6)
- Recap of National Kids Yoga Conference (Nov. 13-15)
- Piece about Arlington Public Schools Garden Meetups
- Review of Hannah, Delivered novel about midwifery and homebirth
- Living with Food Sensitivities & Parenting – on raising kids with healthy ideas about food
- Arlington School Greening Initiatives and School Health Advisory Board activities
- Teaching kids about race – in my past as a teacher, now a parent of white kids in a diverse community
I will also have lots of
- articles to curate/edit/format written by others, for Mindful Healthy Life. I have a group of seven contributors who are just getting started. There are also folks writing guest posts that are in the works at various levels. I will try to refrain from asking for new ones through the month of November!
- giveaways to run on Mindful Healthy Life and super lots of business follow-up from the Natural Products Expo East and other local events including a promo giveaway of CDs to Kira Willey and Bari Koral and books by Gail Silver in advance of the National Kids Yoga Conference.
Partway through writing this, I searched my own site for “novel” and found this list of priorities and intentions that I set at the end of 2014. It’s so helpful to see that list, and it makes me even gladder to be approaching this month with a grunt work/cobweb-clearing mentality.
Fingers crossed I will come out the other side without a lot of sticky strands clinging to me and instead ready to go through another door!
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