Gather and Crash

259. That's the number of words I've written in the last two hours. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but that's where I am today. I'm fighting a bad head cold (again!) and the kids are both home from school for the holiday. My brain feels foggy, my attention divided, and I keep beating myself up for only having 259 words. I want to learn discipline and perseverance in the craft of writing, but I'm starting to think discipline and routine might not be for me, at least not in the way that they are for others.

My guilt and shame tell me that 259 words isn't enough, I haven't reached my thousand word goal. I stare at the screen unable to think what more to write and they scream at me that I'm not enough, that this effort isn't enough.

This inner critic screams two lies at me:

"You have to finish!"

"You can't finish! Just give up!"

I'm stepping back and recognizing that those aren't my only options. I didn't feel like writing, I could have used illness as an excuse and not written at all. Instead I sat down and wrote what I had. Now that I haven't written enough, I could continue to sit here and allow my inner critic to torture me into finishing, or I could say I didn't reach my goal at all so I won't post anything. Instead, I'm choosing to celebrate the fact that I was able to get 259 words in today, post those 259 words, step away from the torture and go take care of my tired and sick body.

Perhaps what I need more than discipline or perseverance is balance. And the ability to celebrate my accomplishments however small they feel. 

If you want to know more about this writing project, click here.

Here's what I have for November 11th:

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I opened the shower door and pulled the nob hard away from the wall. It sputtered and let forth a spray of cold water. I trembled in the cool air, as I waited for the water to warm. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I realized I was counting and took a deep breath. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, I thought the words with each breath. My mind needed the repetition, the predictability.

I noticed the steam gathering on the glass, stuck my hand into the water to check the temperature, and deemed it warm enough. My feet touched the cold floor of the shower and new shivers ran up my spine. I dipped one shoulder in the hot fluid, then the other, then buried my face in the stream. Gasping for breath I turned around and brushed the water from my face with my hands. The heavy pressure of the shower beat down on my head and neck with it's own unique rhythm and force. The water was hot, but I still felt cold.

I watched the drops pool and collect on my arm. They stuck to my skin, waiting, quivering in stillness, until another drop would come along. The two would combine, mesh together, and both would fall from my arm and onto the hard shower floor, crashing into a puddle at my feet. I followed them to the floor, sinking down slowly. Standing felt like too much effort.

Sitting on the floor of the shower I continued to watch the droplets gather on my arm and then fall. Gather and fall. Gather and crash.

(The picture that inspired this piece)

writingBethany Stedman