Taking two months out of Big Year obsessiveness, it’s vital for me to prop and ask: am I okay or is change needed when I reboot in June? The last four days’ posts have assessed, for my benefit, each of my four Big Years, and I’m pleased to leave Australia’s shores with a smile on my face. 2018 has not unfolded quite as hoped, and I’ve battled myself and the world, but I’ve done myself proud.
So . . . a break and then leap back in, Andres!
Big daily goals – early rising, no morning Facebook, good planning, a thousand words slapped down – have produced dismal statistics, even allowing for some compulsory downtime. With a success rate of around 75% on my “process” goals and with the full 1,000 words/day fully achieved only a third of the time, how could I possibly count this as a “tick so far”? Well, it’s my life and I’ll accord a trembly tick to my 2018 so far. Why? Because I’m pouring blood, sweat, and tears into drafting the albatross book and the big year gives me the structure to do so.
Fear permeates the page, the pen, the eye, the mind.
If fear were absent, we’d be as good as dead.
Let me say it again: FaceBook is an invader massacring concentration. Let me say it again: FaceBook hoovers up concentration and atomises it. Let me say once more: concentration sees FaceBook walk through the door and bleats, “I surrender.”
Be precise, Andres. I love FaceBook, a magical aspect of my life. I don’t begrudge a minute on FaceBook EXCEPT when I’m trying to work.
So . . . the draconian rule of my Big Year that says “No FaceBook before noon” remains hard to enforce but invaluable. Today I’m obeying that rule and guess what? Success and fun!
In a few days, the work halts. Vacation time it will be. Down the pen, don the boots, eh? In the meantime, let’s race hard, let’s be proud of oneself on the final day.
If I could spend all my days wordsmithing – selecting the best words and putting them in optimal order – that’s what I would do. It’s surprising how infrequent this craft work is. Oh, I know drafting is all about the words, but mostly I find myself conjuring up sentences whose sole function is to express plot or idea or fact. Some care is taken with the words, of course, but not in way I mean when I say “wordsmithing.” Wordsmithing is a delicious sinking into hours of moulding old phrases and consulting dictionaries and thesauri for perfect effect.
Today I’m happy to cross out the word “embroiled.”
Working hard entices you into a spiral in which your underlying mood dips, day by day, until one day you realize you’re only plodding on because of stubbornness. This descent seems barely noticeable. And then you’re there. Where you are isn’t pretty. At that point you need a circuit breaker: a word of encouragement from a friend, a bracing bike ride, or a bottle of wine.
In the space of one day, sometimes only an hour, perhaps even just over a single minute, you’re transformed. You run to your desk.
They were meant to feed off each other. The Freshness Big Year – reduced exercise but still daily, regular sleep patterns, less alcohol, a couple of minor dietary improvements – was intended to produce steady energy that feeds into my 1,000 Big Year, which is all about finishing a book: rise early, no Facebook during each dedicated-to-work morning, draft a thousand words, do daily planning/monitoring.
It hasn’t worked out as planned, at least not yet. Sleep has been disrupted. Exercising has been weirdly tough. Some days have required plotting or analysis, not drafting, and I’ve jumped briefly to publication plans for a different book. Frankly, my days are often a mess.
But let’s look at the positives. One way or another, nearly every day includes the equivalent of a full, uninterrupted-by-FB morning work. I’m exercising nearly daily and my end-year targets might still be achievable. I’m enjoying less wine. I’m more or less organized, day by day. The spirit of each of these Big Years is well and truly alive. I adore them both.
I cannot believe this, must not, otherwise I’d retire. Seth Godin, after blogging thoughts and ideas daily for eighteen years, suddenly says: “And yet, here I am, sixteen Aprils in a row on this blog so far, and now, finally, zilch. Empty.” Will he bounce back tomorrow? For my sake, I hope so.