September Writing Challenge, Post 11: Oops.

So, I spaced out on my post for the September writing challenge yesterday. I had a relatively juicy topic in mind that was going to take more than 5 minutes – which was outside the parameters of the challenge, but I’ve been playing pretty loose with that – I was running late in the morning, figured I’d get it done in the evening, then I got home and had a bunch of high-priority stuff to do, and then there may have been some cocktails in there somewhere, then I went to bed.

It occurs to me today: There was no guideline built into the challenge for what to do if I missed a day. Have I blown it? Do I skip a day? Do I write an extra post to make up lost ground? Are the Writing Challenge Police going to kick in my door? All of these things are possibilities.

Well, it’s my challenge, so my rule for a single missed day shall be: I’ll get right back to it (because why not?), I’ll do an extra post to make up (you’re reading it), and I’ll examine what happened (again, you’re reading it). What follows may only be interesting to those currently obsessing about habit formation.

[Commence omphaloskepsis]

First, the up side: This has been the first time in ages that I’ve written anything but Facebook status updates or the most mundane of work-related emails for 10 days in a row. So, yay.

I’ve highlighted the value of keeping the challenge parameters tractably small. If the thing hadn’t been large enough that I chose to procrastinate, I wouldn’t have missed the day. This affects my thinking about what I’m going to attempt for a challenge next month.

It’s difficult for me to get discretionary stuff done in the evenings. After work, I still have personal and household responsibilities, and on top of that I’m trying to make progress on multiple side projects. Also, cocktails.

Related: I tend to commit near or slightly above my ability to execute. That’s something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can recall. I would like to a) find a way to make some of the important things habitual so that they take less attention and willpower to do consistently, and b) teach myself to set projects aside for later, without feeling like I’m losing or abandoning something.

It might help to have a plan about what to do when I do miss a day (because it’ll happen again). This is a tidbit I picked up from that book by Charles Duhigg that you see around all the time: People in surgical recovery (I believe the specific surgery was a joint replacement) did much better when they had put some thought into what they’d do when they hit problems in their recovery. The therapy to recover from that kind of surgery can be long, painful, and complex; most of my projects are not so physically painful, but I’d still probably benefit from planning for something besides the happy path.

Okay – off to the showers, and then I’ll come back and choose a topic for another (probably shorter) post.

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