Here I am, week 11 of my Deep Work experiment. And have you noticed it’s been a little quiet here lately?
Sometimes, when things don’t go exactly to plan, I have a tendency to interpret that as failure. Anything less than complete perfection, I can interpret as failure.
As with most things in life, this has both negative and positive aspects. On the plus side: I hold myself to high standards, and I am capable of being my own accountability mechanism. There’s no-one who could be a better drill-sergeant for me than myself.
On the negative side: When I consider myself as having failed, there can be an urge to give up. I’ve already failed… what’s the point of going on? This has been a pattern in many areas of my life – trying to learn how to play an instrument; not getting into a PhD program; trying to lose weight or get fit; and, of course, writing.
Sometimes I have been right to give up. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t. I’m trying to hold onto this simple motto for me and my writing these days:
It’s about progress, not perfection.
Simple, but it might be the hardest thing in the world for a perfectionist like me.
So the last few weeks have been a little dicey in terms of working on my project, and in implementing the skills I pulled from the Deep Work. I’ve been backsliding in certain ways, I’ve been exhausted, things got hard, excuses piled up, and the more I felt like I was failing, the more I didn’t want to write.
I was feeling very in this failure over the weekend: telling myself that this was just like all the other times. You’re never going to finish this book. You’re a terrible writer. Just give up, no-one cares about what you write anyway.
The seductive thoughts planted by my inner gremlin.
But then I remembered, progress, not perfection. So, I’m back. Here, being honest, being accountable, and looking back over what I have achieved in the last three weeks.
- I have just under 35,000 words total written – that’s almost halfway!
- In the past 3 weeks I’ve written over 7,000 words. No, it’s not as fast as I was writing in the first flush of this work, but it’s also significant progress. I didn’t stop writing.
- I’ve been gently dipping my toes into research, pulling inspiration and ideas.
- I’ve read some really good books – this is a way I fuel myself as a writer too, and important to acknowledge.
- I’ve been busy at work. Sometimes I think I forget that this is a valid reason for feeling a bit tapped out for my own writing. I love my job – but it does use my creativity, my resources, my time. It’s ok to admit that sometimes it’s hard to find the energy for both writing and work, and sometimes work has to win in that equation.
- I’ve been trying to take care of myself. I’ve been learning to meditate. I’ve taken some much needed naps. I’ve been taking care of my physical health – working out, and taking long walks. This too is part of the creative process – allowing myself to be looked after and able to do this work.
For the next little while, I want to refocus on the basics of the Deep Work Experiment. Get back into the swing of the tools that made so much sense to me at the start of this journey. And most of all, to keep going.