Last week, I set the intention of writing 3500 words a day while also living my normal life and completing all my other responsibilities. I ended up writing 25,493 words in one week while also going to the gym, two grocery store runs, multiple child activities including library story time, a hike, two soccer practices and a game, attending a wedding shower of a dear friend, cooking every meal at home, completing all weekly household chores, helping with homework and solo-parenting a good chunk of the time.
There were a few reasons that I wanted to do this:
1) 3500 words is enough to be really uncomfortable for me. Sitting down during my youngest kid’s nap time and writing 1000 words was pretty doable for me and because of that, I was getting complacent and honestly, a little bit bored with it. I wasn’t driven. I wasn’t trying.
2) I really, really wanted to go on a writer’s retreat. I kept day dreaming about the possibility of holing up in a cozy cabin and writing and writing as much as I could without interruption or listening to my kids play Roblox in the other room. I was feeling like I couldn’t write unless I was alone and that wasn’t conducive to living my life.
3) I haven’t felt like a “self” in a while. Being a stay-at-home parent means that all of my day revolves around other people. People that I love dearly, of course, but when I’m supplying most of their daily needs (eating, sleeping, bathing, butt wiping, homework help, cleaning up, etc), it’s incredibly easy to lose myself in the shuffle.
This is what I learned when I pushed myself this week:
1) Do not skip a day.
Tuesday was a busy day because I had to shuffle my two kids between multiple activities and do a grocery run. I only wrote 606 words that day. In an effort to not fall behind any more than I already had, on Wednesday, I wrote 6734 words to catch up. That’s a lot of words and the next day, my brain was mush. I pushed through but anything over 5000 words in a day and I’m gonna need to lay down for a nap.
2) Accountability and a Healthy Sense of Competition.
I belong to a Facebook group where we push and encourage each other to write every day so I was logging my word count every day in a personal spreadsheet and at the end of the week, I got to share my total word count. I wanted something to be impressive.
Also, I commented a lot on my other online writing groups everyday on what I wanted to accomplish and where I was. I blew up my own Twitter feed with updates. It might have been annoying to others, but it was the one thing that really kept me going. It’s amazing how quickly my competitive spirit kicks in if I alert other people of what I’m trying to accomplish.
3) I am capable of hard stuff.
I always felt like it would be unfair to take time and energy away from my kids to spend time on something that really only fed my own spirit. Just like my kids are having screen time while I write this post. THE GUILT! THE GUILT IS SO STRONG! But, my kids were totally fine. Every one still got to school on time, and to bed on time and ate food every day and were cleaned and showered. Somehow, the world kept on spinning while I also accomplished something that I am proud of.
4) That being said, I would definitely accomplish more if I lived on an island.
If this is what I can do while life is also happening all around me, I know that I could accomplish so much more while holed up in a room with snacks and good natural lighting. I love my family but little kids have a lot of little needs and wants and it’s really difficult to get into the flow while also being begged for some cheese or breaking up another fight about Legos.
5) Break it up.
The day went a lot more smoothly when I broke up the daily goal into smaller chunks. When I got 1000 words done early in the day and only needed 2500 later during nap time or after kiddo bed time, it was a lot easier. When I was staring down the mountain of the entire 3500 amount at 9 o’clock at night, it made me want to curl up in a ball and go right to sleep.
I did it! Sometimes it was like I was pulling the words out of the sticky mud on my mind, but sometimes they flew from my brain straight through my fingers and onto the page. Either day, I got them down.
From here on out, I think I need a more manageable daily goal, but not something that will make be feel too comfortable. For the next week, I’m going to shoot for 2000 words per day and adjust from there.