Duty of Joy

Self-sabotage is an ugly habit of mine. In the past year, I’ve set myself up to write my book and simultaneously set myself to fail at it. I set myself times and places, and require of me a word count. I would express that as, for instance, “I have to write 1,000 words daily.”

When life overwhelmed me and I was exhausted, I stalled out. Restarting, I lowered the bar. “I have to write 500 words daily.”

And stalled out after a while.

Later: “I have to sit down and write for an hour.”


Sometimes this would happen while I was updating LJ frequently and long-windedly. W, as they say, TF?

This weekend I realized one of the things they all had in common. They all begin, “I have to…”.

I have to fix the truck.
I have to cook tonight.
I have to take care of X.
I have to clean Y.
I have to have my prostate examined by a sturdy-fingered bricklayer.
I have to get that hemmeroid lanced.

I wonder why I haven’t been enjoying myself. No, not really. I’ve lumped my JoyChoice in with all the “gottas” of my life, of which there are many. This weekend, I tried out a new one:

“I have to sit down and write, and enjoy it.”

Hm. Something wrong there….

How about this. “I get to, three days at least each week, sit down to write on something creative — the book by choice, but a short story or some such is fine — and the only goal in doing so is, when I am done, I feel that I have exerted good effort and, ideally, wrote something that I am pleased to have written.”

It’s a bit long, but it isn’t a “gotta”, it’s a “I get to”. It is a very low expectation, which permits exceeding it, eventually regularly. IT IS NOT QUANTIFIABLE. I will be the only person who can say I succeeded or failed.

Do I want the book done? Oh, yes. Quickly? Yes’m. Published? Yup.

But, I discovered a few weeks ago, those aren’t what I want most. What I want most is to have written, and to be pleased that I did.

Right thinking –> Right action –> Right being –> Right thinking

Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry