Friday, March 7, 2014

sacrifice the icky.

I always feel inspired during the season of Lent.  While forty days and forty nights doesn't sound like a long time in the grand scheme of things, (tell that to the guy who gave up beer), positive change can happen and bad habits broken, all as a result of small, six-week sacrifices that are made to help us feel more connected to God.


A girl I know on Facebook posted Wednesday that she has elected to give up things that make her feel "icky," like, "candy, soda and Facebook."  While I was intrigued that Facebook was among the things that make her feel "icky" - I mean, what are her friends posting anyway? - I like the sentiment of removing the noise, or the icky, so that we might focus on things that matter.

I also like the idea that at the end of each day, my friend will know if she has succeeded in sacrificing her icky by simply asking herself if she ate candy, if she drank soda, and if she checked Facebook.  If she can answer, "no," then she will have succeeded. 
If you've spent any time on this blog whatsoever, you know getting rid of the icky has been my struggle for years.  I've made repeated vows in this space to stay more present, be more balanced, choose more love.  But unlike my friend, there is no measure of success with these promises, and seemingly no way to be held accountable.

I wanted to choose love.  And sometimes, I did.  And other times, I was a bitch.

I wanted to stay more present, so I went to yoga.  I cleared my mind, centered myself and focused only on my breath . . .and then my thoughts would shift to my grocery list or the next vacation I wanted to go on.

The intention is very much there, but my execution needs some serious work.

At the start of the year, I promised myself, and anyone reading, that this would be the year that I would finish the book I've been longing to write since the blog began in 2009.  "I'll write," I said, "Everyday for an hour." I have definitely written more, but not everyday.  Now it's March, and I'm afraid I have to tell you that I'm still nowhere near close to my goal of writing a book. 

I mean, I have the material - much of it lives here on this blog.  Some of it exists in emails I've written to myself and in notebooks lying around my house.  I'm certainly not struggling for ideas - every time I turn off my light to go to sleep, or am taking a shower, or am out running, great, hilarious anecdotes come to me and inspire me that this will happen.  "I can do it!  I can be a published author!  

Yet when I sit in front of my computer, with all of my notes and emails scattered around me, all distractions turned off and/or tucked away, all of those good ideas seem nowhere to be found.  Instead, all I can hear are loud, doubtful voices inside my head saying, "This will never happen," "Who are you kidding?," and the worst, "Nobody cares about what you have to say!"

This kind of self-doubt makes me feel unmotivated and anxious - it makes me feel icky.

Why not, like my friend is doing with soda and candy, just give up the self-doubt?  For Lent?  Forty days and forty nights of thinking positively about myself and my abilities.

Is that even possible?


Apparently these feelings mean that I'm in good company - one quick Google search of "self-doubt" and "writing" yields pages upon pages of results from those who experience (suffer?) the same.

Writer and documentary producer Robert Hughes once said, "The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize."  Well if that's true, then I might be the best damn writer there is.  

Most of these sites offer suggestions on how to break through the self-doubt.  Among my favorites:

Fake it till you make it and keep writing.  Find a way to ignore the voices that tell me I can't and just keep writing.  That seems almost as elusive as "choosing love," but I'm going to try it anyhow.

Set easy goals. I thought I did this when I said I'd write for an hour each day - but with no accountability to anyone, it's an easy promise to break.   I've been sticking to a once-a-week blogging schedule, and I'm going to try to up that to two.  I cannot believe that I used to blog everyday and now twice a week seems like a challenge.  What happened?!

Call on your cheerleaders/biggest fans/accountability partners. The reason this blog happened is because of you and if the book happens it will be because of you also.  Just like I hope you'd remind me of my giving up chocolate for Lent if I went in for a Hershey bar, I'd like to think I can count on you for encouragement and accountability when it comes to writing.  I'm boldly asking for your help, your reminders, your sharing of this blog with your friends if you think it'll help.

How do you deal with self-doubt in writing and in life?  What icky are you sacrificing for Lent this year?

Will you help me?