With this post, I have now successfully completed NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for 2010 by posting at least once every day for the month of November! (And because I started the daily posting in late October, this is actually my 38th consecutive posting day.) As sporadic as my posting has tended to be in the past, this is a significant accomplishment for me, and I’m feeling quite proud of myself for having the discipline to stick with it. In the process of doing this, I’ve reminded myself of my love of writing, had the chance to explore a bit of what my voice might truly sound like, and have processed some of the emotional and psychological junk I’ve been experiencing by getting the words out on the screen. I’m so glad I stepped up to the challenge!
The question now, however, is what I should do now that the enforced daily posting of NaBloPoMo is over.
Do I keep posting daily? The perfectionist in me really likes this idea because it gives me something to measure to determine whether I am doing this perfectly. As a friend noted, this is dangerous territory for me because it gives me just one more avenue for beating myself up and one more “should” hanging over my head. Oddly enough, although there have been nights when I really just didn’t feel like producing a blog post, I’ve always enjoyed the task once I made myself sit down and do it. And it’s never once felt onerous.
Should I move to a regular, but less than daily habit of posting? For example, I could post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. This allows a little more latitude than the daily posting, but it still encounters some of the potential problems listed above. I would still be measuring myself against a standard (with the possibility of self-abuse for not measuring up) and it still has the potential of “should” built into it. The downside with this approach is that it becomes less than a daily habit of writing. There’s something about the daily habit that makes writing a part of the fabric of my life in a way that an every other day habit does not. In addition, it pushes me (gently) to routinely explore my baggage along this journey by motivating me to write on the good days as well as the bad ones.
Should I move to unscheduled posting and just post when I feel like it? Obviously, this approach frees me from the inner perfectionist entirely. There is nothing to measure and no standard for which I might fall short. The downside is that I know myself well enough to know that I am fundamentally lazy. If I don’t have a commitment to a habit, I am likely to find other ways to spend my time that are less productive. The discipline of a commitment to a regular writing habit of some kind is that it ensures that I keep exercising that muscle to stay in shape.
The other option, of course, is to stop blogging altogether. There are days I am tempted by this very thing. It feels so fruitless sometimes when I am discouraged. I am attempting to bare the depths of my soul, but who is interested in reading or engaging in such irrelevant dribble (for them)? Why bother? I think this option I can safely eliminate. I have to remind myself that I blog because it is good for ME. I don’t blog for anyone else, as much as I want it to be read. I blog for me.
So I guess the question really comes down to: Is self-discipline around blogging a good thing or a bad thing for me? Obviously, some self-discipline is a very good thing. I brush my teeth every day because of self-discipline even though I really hate to brush my teeth. I know it’s good for me in the long run, though, so I do it. And that’s a good thing. I make myself get up and go to work every day even though I don’t want to (and I rather frequently cry all the way there). This is another form of necessary self-discipline if I wish to have a paycheck. So self-discipline in and of itself is not a bad thing.
Is it a good thing in this case? Is it bubbling up from an internal desire to encourage personal growth and development? Or is it something I am imposing upon myself to please someone else in some way? As I’ve sat with this decision this evening, my gut says that committing to a continued daily practice feels more like self-care than self-punishment. It feels like a container to protect this habit in which I have found such nourishment from getting trampled by the constant cares, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life. It feels like a sacred practice that, while involving an element of requirement, is ultimately a vehicle of freedom. The following quote expresses my sentiments well.
“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” — Anne Morriss
It removes my head as the barrier to my life. By committing to a daily blogging practice, I don’t have to decide each day whether today feels like a good day or a bad day for blogging. I don’t have to decide whether I have anything “worthwhile” to say today. It doesn’t matter. I’ve committed to writing. Every day. No matter how I feel. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of the fabric of my life.
I’ll need to watch myself to ensure that I keep this as a healthy practice of self-care since I know that’s always a risk for me. If it begins to slide into the realm of becoming a tool to beat myself up to enforce a rigid perfectionism on myself, I will need to re-evaluate things. For now, though, I’m not in that place.
So I guess that decides it. I’m past the 21 days that it is supposed to take to create a new habit. This habit is now a part of me, and I am choosing to commit to continue it. And that feels right. I am a writer. I write, that’s what I do. Yes, this feels right.