Have It Your Way
Really, you can do that
I hope you had…a break…this holiday season. I did very little (but cook and clean and parent) but it was very nice! We got a stand mixer and I made whipped cream FOUR TIMES in a week! It was glorious.
Now, it’s time to get back to work. Generally, I am happy to get back to work because I am lucky enough to have just about complete control over my job and enjoy doing it. I know that’s rare and I greatly appreciate it. I am usually one for making new years resolutions, too. I! Love! A! Plan! I love a scheme and an outline and a new notebook and tracking things and always have high hopes for this time of year. Then…I just don’t do it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That’s more normal than actually following through with these things, I’ve come to realize.
I have also come to realize that someone else’s plan is probably not going to work for me, at least where I am now. I am beyond a new plan making a difference in my life. I just need to do the things I already know work with what I have going on. And it was yoga that made me realize this over the break.
This is not a Do More Exercise And Be Virtuous post. Fuck weight loss goals in January. New Year, Same You. I have, however, been feeling very tight and creaky, and I know I feel better when I do a little yoga, so I was like Kate, get on the mat. You’ll feel better. So I did. But what I didn’t do is sign up for Adrienne’s 30 day whatever challenge. I didn’t even log on to my very, very, very beloved Brooklyn yoga teacher’s classes. I really didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do. I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. So I just did it. I did the yoga I knew how to do and the poses that felt good and it worked. I got what I wanted and needed out of it. And I am more excited to do that again than I am by doing whatever plan thing someone else has set up for me.
The reason this worked, though, is because I have been doing yoga off and on since the late nineties. I know what my body can do and I know how to do it. I’m no expert but I certainly fill fifteen or thirty minutes with poses and feel good about it. I could not have done this ten years ago. And I couldn’t do it with pilates or barre or weight lifting or any other kind of movement because I do not know those moves. I used Couch 2 5k in the past and it worked great. A plan that worked! But that was because I had no idea how to set up a running regimen. This is obvious, of course. If you know how to do something, then you can do it. But many of us believe, especially this time of year, that a new plan will save us, and it won’t. You are better off doing what you know how to do.
This applies to your writing life, too. You should also be able to recognize when you don’t know how to do something. Never had a regular (note I didn’t say daily) writing practice? Then start with someone else’s plan and see how it works for you! You can’t know if morning pages will work for you if you’ve never tried the Artist’s Way. You can’t know if you’re a word-count-goal person or a set-time-a-day person or a pomodoro person if you don’t try these things. It takes time and effort, trial and error, but going through these things is part of learning about yourself as a writer. You don’t have to try everything, but you do have to give some things a shot to see what works. When you’ve found that thing, stop. Just do that. Even if everyone else is doing That New Thing.
Knowing how you work and trying things until you find it is the only effective plan to create a writing practice that works for you. You don’t have to do anyone else’s plan after you’ve figured out how you work. Recognizing where you are on that path will point you in the right direction—not an app or software or 30 day challenge. Get on the mat. Get at the keyboard. Try things and make your own plan when you’re ready.
Happy writing, friends. I hoping this year will be better than the last.
Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a good mask. Yell at the government for not doing more.