Mental Block

Working from home is strange. I plan out my days from 9–5 with four blocks of work, and breaks in-between. This is Week 6 since I quit my job, although two weeks were spent moving house; so this is Week 4 with my personal schedule put in place. 4 WEEKS. I’ve had every day to myself, except for the occasional freelance work, family commitment, and miniature break. Every day! Every night! And what have I done?

Until today, I didn’t feel like I was achieving anything. I was frustrated; even with all of that free time, I wanted and needed more. The days were too short. Why do I have to sleep? Why do I have to eat? Or have bathroom breaks? Even with all that free time, there were so many things I wasn’t getting done. Like finishing any of my unread books, or updating my website, or hanging pictures on our bare walls, or thinking about Christmas cards and gifts, or answering emails, or catching up on Twitter/Tumblr/etc.

I haven’t been sitting around being a lazy bum, though. These past four weeks, I’ve been writing for NaNoWriMo almost every day, and now I’m over 30,000 words. My story isn’t quite there, but once I get to 50,000 words (at the end of November) I’ll have so much story to play with — to tweak, rewrite, edit, shape — that maybe I can make something of it. I’ve been writing morning pages almost every day, too. I’ve made a new/old house pretty nice. I’ve done some freelance work. I’ve researched a business idea. I’ve attended talks and classes. I’ve managed Girls Club. And as of today, I’ve assigned blocks of time in my schedule to finish books, and I finished one today, which was very satisfying. (I’ve also set time for Christmas cards and writing emails. Reserving blocks seems to be the way to go.)

Despite those accomplishments, I felt useless and empty-handed, like an artist with no finished paintings. And that’s because I put “Updating my website” — one of my most concrete plans — on my Planner over 6 months ago, and I’ve made zero progress. I like sticking to my daily schedule and my longterm planner, and I usually do, so when I procrastinate or don’t do something, it really becomes a thorn.

Sure, I planned my website. I planned the heck out of it. But I had a mental block on actually starting it. At first, I had to think about what I wanted it to be like. Then I had to research other websites. Then I had to sketch it. Then I had to decide which platform to use. Then a WordPress competitor — Ghost — launched a campaign on Kickstarter, and I backed the campaign, and delayed setting up WordPress, in case Ghost turned out to be amazing. Then Ghost was funded, but it would be a few months before it was live. Then I was unhappy in my job. Then I was moving to a new house. Then I quit my job. Then I was travelling overseas. Then I was moving to a new house, again. And then, home alone, with all the free time in the world, I was kicking myself: For 6 months, you’ve wanted to make a new website! Nothing is stopping you, except yourself! What’s wrong with you?!

But something clicked today. In my morning pages, I used pen and paper to detail my thoughts and gently investigate what I wanted on my website, and I stumbled onto the idea that I had been planning something that I should do (but it would feel like a chore), rather than something that I wanted to do. Which is pertinent. Last week I was talking to my brother about should do VS. want to do and it’s been a lifelong recurring theme.

All these expectations. Why do I need to write an exquisite, literary story, instead of pulp fiction? Why do I need to plan an exquisite, perfect website, instead of…? As soon as that clicked, my mental block was gone.

And here we are.

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