Tag Archives: struggle

The everyday struggle… especially toward the end

Today was a struggle for me.

I woke up this morning and wrote down my To Do list for the day as I always do. Each day, the list includes one essential item: Write. Most of the time, that item comes so naturally that I’m not even sure that I need to include it. Still, I love checking things off of the list, so I add it in for that little extra bit of pleasure when I can say that I accomplished it as part of my daily goals. Unfortunately, today was not like most days. I felt an impending urge to do anything but write all morning and into the early afternoon. Luckily, it was a light day in terms of other commitments so I gave myself some room to slack off. I’ll sit down and write later. I’ll get to it eventually. I found myself all kinds of things to read and procrastinate with.

The power of the To Do list is such for me, that several hours later, I did get to it. At almost five in the afternoon, I finally sat down and put in my minimum word requirement for the day. Initially, the process was slow and miserable, but as I got more into the scene that I was working on, the words started to come more easily. Eventually I got through it and I am even closer to finishing the first complete draft of this book than I was on Friday.

Now that I’ve gotten through it, I find myself reflecting on why resistance was so much more powerful today than it was the last time I sat down to write on Thursday. I’m reminded of a saying one of my friends uses: “It takes three weeks to build a habit, but only three days to break it.” I took the day off of writing on Friday to be at the Baltimore Book Festival. Instead of my normal two days off of writing for the weekend, I had three days away from it, although Friday was an intense and exhausting day. That extra day took away some of my momentum – I found it harder to trace where my scene was heading and I spent some time trying to retrace the plans that I had made for the scenes remaining until the end of my book. While the extra day off was justified in terms of how busy the festival was, I paid the price for it today. I would gladly pay the price again, but next time I take an extra day off, I plan to remember this experience. Expecting the increased resistance would have made me feel more in control of the emotions that I was feeling and would have helped me to tackle it appropriately. Knowledge about the enemy that I am facing would have shifted the power dynamic in my favor.

The other side of the issue that I ran into is feeling the need to celebrate before I get to the end.

I’ve experienced this sentiment before. When I was a teenage competing on the ice skating rink, I was always a great competitor. Moves that I could perform only inconsistently would come together on the day of the competition. I could go out on the rink and skate a flawless program, landing all of my jumps and completing all of my spins with speed and precision. Until the last one. At the end of a program, my coach and I would always insert a move that I could do consistently. My legs would be tired and I would be trying to catch my breath so it seemed like the best plan. Use an easier move at the end to finish the program with flare. But this tactic never worked well for me. I would accomplish all of the hardest elements in my program and then falter on the last spin – the layback, easily my strongest element on a normal day. This would happen because I would be so close to the finish that I could see it there ahead of me. Because I was almost there, I imagined myself to already be there and I would make a stupid error in my setup that would result in mediocre or failed execution of that last move.

Years later, I find myself back there, in the home stretch. My next novel is almost finished. I’ve been running the 10K and the finish line is less than half a kilometer away. I want to relax, I want to celebrate. I know that the worst is behind me, but yet the finish line seems to elude me. I’m so close that I want to stop and revel, but I’m not there yet.

I am of course trying to learn from a mistake that I made over and over again in competition. I won’t allow myself to celebrate until I can actually write the words “THE END” on the last page of my manuscript. Even with the reminder, I can still feel that impulse. I will probably keep feeling it at the end of each writing project I work on. Today I fought against the urge and won, but the rest of the home stretch remains in front of me. All I can do is to keep up my habit, one day at a time, until I get to the finish line. It’s close and getting closer, but I’m not there yet.

Please tell me your thoughts. Have you experienced anything similar when you are close to the end of a project? Or when you are trying to build up or maintain a regular practice (be it of writing, reading, exercise, painting, or anything else)?

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

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The miracle of human resilience

Once again it’s time for my weekly Monday posting and I find my thoughts dwelling deeply on what I saw this afternoon. I spent the day walking around Frankfurt after a few hours of working on my sequel to AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION in the morning. Tomorrow I head back home to DC and so today was the last day of my writing vacation – a couple of weeks that I spent in Europe for bits of work and bits of pleasure, along with focusing on my writing more than anything else and seeking out inspiration from the places I’ve been visiting. Over this trip, I visited Paris, London, Hamburg, a small town in East Germany called Plauen, and finally Frankfurt on my way back home.

My week in Germany has included lots of aimless wandering and exploring of the different cities I’ve been in. During this time, I have noticed again and again the contrast of the old church that I can recognize from visiting other places in Europe next to a building that is most certainly “new” but built in an older style. I knew the reason for this, but the reality still amazed (and amazes) me. During World War II so many of Germany’s prettiest spots were destroyed by air raids, and yet the facades now stand again, resilient and strong. Below are two aerial shots of the area around the Frankfurt Cathedral which was completely destroyed. The only reason that the church remained standing is that it was used as a landmark for allied forces’ pilots to ensure their position was accurate. According to a friend that I met today at dinner, this is the reason that most of the large churches in Germany were able to withstand the war.

Frankfurt ruins-p1  Frankfurt ruins 2

The current view is much more pleasant, with the entire old city rebuilt around the Cathedral. I’ve attached a black and white photo below so that you can really see the difference between the two shots.

Frankfurt now

Being able to feel the extent of the reconstruction in person gives me a new appreciation for the power of human resilience. My experience today also reminded me of a quote from the first Captain America movie: “…the first country that the Nazis invaded was their own.” I may be a nerd for quoting Captain America, but this quote resonated for me every time I looked at a reconstructed building during my time in Germany.  Such is the power of human resilience. If so many cities could be reconstructed from rubble, and this country could rejuvenate itself so well, then perhaps there is a lesson for all of us to draw as individuals? I’m sure that at different points in our lives, we have lost faith in our ability to move past and recover from difficult times. But here, in a place that had lost so much but has managed to rebuild in spite of the scars, there is evidence for all of us. A year ago I was struggling with my writing process. Over a few weeks I had barely written a word of a new book which I’ve now completed (currently in editing stages). I was frustrated and sad and I’m sure that I took it out on my loved ones. When I look back now I know that I have come so far. The most important part of that was realizing that I needed to write in order to be happy, and the rest was more procedural – what kind of discipline I should set for myself and how best to enforce it. So far, I have succeeded although I will continue to refine my process over the rest of my life. Getting to this point was something of a struggle, but that does not even come close to the type of recovery that is possible – the type of recovery that I could see in every German city that I visited this week. No matter the challenge, it lies within our power to recover. We do not need to forget the past to move forward; rather we can remember it and honor it, but recover nonetheless.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

Check out my first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION, available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS