Monday, January 25, 2016

Go easy on yourself

I’ve become convinced that, in writing and in life, there are two rules. One is to hold yourself to a high standard. The second is the opposite: Every now and then, go easy on yourself.

This blog is a good example of those principles in action. I set a goal this year to have a regular blog, one that covers issues related to writing and creativity, and I enjoy the project so much that it has become a daily blog. But yesterday, I worked from the time I woke to the time I went back to sleep (late). I had a packet of job application materials due, and some pressing tasks in an online class I teach, and a few other looming deadlines that could no longer be put off.

As a result, I forgot to write a blog post.

The great benefit of a blog on writing is mostly personal. While I’d like to encourage conversation and build community and help other writers—all very high-minded aims—my very favorite part of blogging is the insight I get into my own beliefs and values when it comes to writing and editing. Even as I’m consciously writing for an audience, I’m speaking to myself and clarifying my views. This has been a surprisingly contemplative activity, one that has helped me to find my center.

It’s only January, so it’s early to have broken a quasi-resolution (although the original goal was just a regular blog, and not a daily one). I was genuinely enjoying the energy of an everyday product (reminiscent of my newspaper days), and of course the readership grows through predictable publication. Pushing myself to do something important for my own writing was a great decision.

I missed a day for important reasons. I actually need a full-time job, and I spent almost the whole day yesterday updating my vita and choosing and polishing support materials (including some blog entries, as it happens). Taking time out to fashion a blog post would have been a distraction from rather urgent work, and really, if I’m going to take a break, I should probably think first of my family.

That’s where Rule 2 comes into play. There’s only one of me, and although that math seems easy, I’ve spent most of my first forty-seven years miscounting. There is one me, one finite life, and I do what I can to make things happen for myself and my community and the people I love.

I’ve decided that’s sufficient.

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