Why I’m happy that I failed at my July “writing every day” project

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I have always been one of those people that is much better at ideas than the actual follow through.

You can probably ask any one of my friends about this. I can spend a morning coming up with 36 ideas to write about (as I recently did in a pitch to one of my regular publications) but when it comes to putting a solid pen-to-paper, I’m not quite as good.

Jokingly, I blame it on being an Aries. I’ve always read that we’re just like that: get really enthusiastic and passionate about a project… For about 2 days. And then we’re on to the next great thing, and have forgotten all about that last task we were just SO REALLY VERY excited about.

That’s always been me. And although I don’t actually believe in astrology, it’s still fun to think about it. But I know that it’s not good or healthy for me to be this kind of person. Instead, the more I grow and learn about myself in these last 30 years of life, the more I realize that it’s something I should work on. More importantly, though, I need to partner with people who can help me see things through.

So when it came to my July “Writing Every Day” Project, I was afraid that the same thing would happen. Again. And I was RIGHT!

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in order to track my progress and here is what I came away with at the end of the month:

Days of Writing: 13 out of 31

Average Per Day: 907 words

Total Word Count: 11,796

To be honest, I am actually kind of proud of the work that I did.

Okay, so 13 days isn’t exactly great. But that’s almost 2 weeks of writing! And beyond that, averaging almost 1000 words per day when I was only writing for an hour every day is mighty impressive in my opinion. Although I was just shy of 12,000 words, I am still proud.

After 13 days of writing… Well, things got a bit hectic. I had to spend long days at work to prepare for a week-long vacation and just didn’t have the mental energy to do any personal writing. Then I was on vacation, and then I had to catch up on work. A lot of excuses, I know, but for a minute I truly thought I would be able to do all of this *and* continue with my daily writing. I honestly did!

After that didn’t work, though, my plan was to write for two hours every day to make up for the time I didn’t have before. But then things kept being busy and, eventually, I gave it up.

To be honest, giving up on “writing every day” was REALLY difficult. I was starting to do what I always do – putting a ton of pressure on myself to do THE BEST JOB EVER and stressing myself out.

I joke about how nobody puts as much pressure on me as I myself do, but it’s honestly not really a joke. And, after a particularly stressful couple of days, I had a long talk with Adam and he encouraged me to chill the F out.

So I decided to quit early on my July “Writing Every Day” Project and, to be honest, I feel pretty darn good about it. The truth is that taking care of my mental health is at the top of my list this year. I need to learn to treat myself better, and being my own worst boss is simply NOT an option. I’ve been there and done that, and I still have trouble relaxing about my self-imposed work schedule.

But for now, for today, I am proud of the work I did writing every day for 13 days. Yes, it wasn’t 31 days. Yes, I gave up early. Yes, maybe this makes me the worst writer on the planet (or not)…

The point is, I still DID IT. I wrote consistently and I even had a pretty awesome average daily word count.

I’m proud of myself for that. And I am proud of myself for admitting that sometimes quitting early is the right thing to do. The lifelong overachiever in me is still having some serious trouble with that, but the girl trying to grow and be better is pretty happy with the results.

Plus, now that I know that I *can* do it, I’m planning to continue writing more. Sure, I won’t be doing it daily but I *will* be doing it regularly. And that’s what really matters in the end… With the caveat that I’m continuing to put less pressure on myself.

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When overthinking gets in the way of my writing

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s really, really easy for me to overthink my writing. In fact, I basically do it EVER. DAMN. DAY.

Here’s what typically happens in my brain:

I want to write! Okay… but what to write about? Let’s see… Well, I have a story due, so I’ll work on that. Okay, done with that, now I should write a blog update about Map Your 30 Project. Or, um, maybe I should go for a Healthy Latin Food story since I’ve been thinking a LOT about food lately. But then I kind of feel like writing about my memoir. Or maybe I should read a memoir. Or maybe I should research the memoir? Oh WAIT! But now I want to write about doing Whole30… but then I just did all that research on high protein smoothies, so maybe I should write about that? OH MAN! I just got a *great* blog idea. Maybe I should start a new blog? Oh geez, do I really have time for a new blog…

And this goes on for about an hour. Or sometimes all day.

Over, and over, and over again. I have one very big issue with my writer’s block. And it’s not so much that I don’t have any inspiration to write but that I simply have TOO MANY IDEAS to write about.

This has always been my problem, actually.

I overthink absolutely EVERYTHING. And I don’t just mean my writing. I overthink my relationship, I overthink moving, I overthink social plans, I overthink conversations, I just… overthink.

It’s the main symptom of my anxiety, I think. (Look, there I go AGAIN! Hahahahahahah… or not.)

The worst part of it lately, though, is that I am letting my overthinking absolutely cripple my writing. I have SUCH a strong desire to just sit down and write. Just get my words out there, even if nobody reads them.

But then I sit down… and I start to think. And my brain jumps from one idea to the next to the next to the next and, before I know it, it’s time to move on and do something else (like sort that pile of clean laundry on the couch… Stop taunting me, pile!).

And I make myself believe it’s OKAY. Really, seriously, Irina, it’s FINE. You’ll write tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day!

But as my mami said in Spanish often when I was little, it ends up being “the tomorrow that never comes”.

Because that’s what is happening with my writing lately. I put it off, I let myself overthink it, and I never simply sit my pretty ass down to a computer and JUST START WRITING.

Which is horrible!

I’m smarter than that. Really, I promise that I am. Every fellow creative person I talk to (and even my wonderful boyfriend, who’s an engineer but has a few creative bones in his body thanks to a love of music and playing the drums) tells me every time the subject come sup: JUST. START. WRITING!

I’m sure I’ve driven a good chunk of my writer friends crazy with my constant zigzagging between ideas.

Oooooh what about this?! Or THAT?! Should I work on that book? Or this one? Or maybe this other blog idea I had that one time… 

Trust me, it’s EXHAUSTING. It exhausts and frustrates even me. Like, constantly. All the time. But I decided to finally do something about it. I think…

I’m going to take the month of July to write EVERY DAMN DAY.

That’s right. I am going to sit down at my computer every single day during the month of July 2016 and write something on this here writer’s portfolio site/blog/whatever you want to call this place.

I’m not saying it’s going to be good. In fact, it’ll probably be just like this–some ramblings and musings about who-knows-what with no real substance or anything.

But then again, maybe something will come of it. That’s my hope, anyway. With so many ideas always crowding my mind and essentially giving me serious writer’s FOMO, I need to let go and, as Nike famously put it, just DO it.

I know there’s also some fear of success/failure issues that go along with this. After all, it’s MUCH easier to pretend that everything’s fine when I don’t have a full manuscript staring me in the face, asking me why I haven’t yet sold it to an agent (or, worse, what to do ONCE I HAVE). As long as the book I want to write is never done or the blog that I believe in never receives 100% of my attention, it’s going to be totally okay. Right?

Instead, I happily allow myself to sit in an Overthinking Cloud of Doom and never actually go for one thing or the other. Hell, I never even go for BOTH things at the same time–but with the determination and commitment that I truly want to give of myself.

I just don’t do it. I think and think and think and never write and write and write.

So this is important. I need to stop getting in my own freaking way and just WRITE. I mean, look, I’m here doing it, aren’t I?

Here’s to the month of July and accomplishing one sort-of-kind-of-maybe-I-think goal: WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

… Wish me luck, y’all.

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I’m about to turn 30…

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In the past few months, and I couldn’t tell you if this is coincidence or some weird algorithm or simply because I am more aware of it, my Facebook feed has been full of “hey you’re turning 30!” articles.

And it’s true. I am turning 30. In exactly a month, to be precise.

To be honest, I am not yet sure how I feel about the whole thing. At times I feel like the it is kind of silly. All of the pressure that we face, as women and as human beings in general, to have checked off certain life milestones by this age. A great career, a nice home, a semblance of independence and some vague definition of being a real adult now that our twenties are behind us.

Oh yeah, and can’t forget the whole life partner thing.

Whether married, engaged or simply paired off with the person that you’re thinking you probably *will* marry, the pressure to “Have It All” seems to really start at this age when we have graduated from those years of growing and finding ourselves to these years of settling into our lives.

But what if you’re not actually quite settled or ready to be settled yet? Is the pressure to have it all figured out by 30 real, or is it something that’s just in our heads?

Irina25thBdayAs I read through what seems like the 27th list of things I should have done/read/watched/experienced/learned by the time I hit the big 3-0 next month, I’m left wondering: isn’t there more to figure out after this? After all, life doesn’t begin at 30 and it definitely doesn’t end there either.

So that’s where I find myself now, thinking that turning 30 is both a really big deal and absolutely no big deal at all.

Sure, I have some things figured out, like that really awesome career that I love. But some things are still in the To Be Determined folder, like that life partner-type figure that’s looming somewhere on the horizon. Maybe.

In the end, though, I know I still have some work to do on myself. I don’t really think that work will ever end, because what’s the point of life if you just stop improving yourself? But since I’m turning 30 and all the hoopla that supposedly comes with it, I am taking this year to especially focus on some of the things that are important to me.

I’m calling it the Map Your 30s blog. It’s basically a vehicle for me to focus on the things that are important to me and the parts of my life that I want to work on, strengthen or improve in some way. That means my career, relationships, finances, home environment, health and confidence/spirituality.

I doubt it’ll only last a year. That’s quite a big undertaking that I am planning to tackle. But the truth is that it’s really not about a year-long project or because I’m turning 30 and all of a sudden some sort of alarm is going off in my head (it’s not), but simply because I want to do it. And I want to do it now.

Being 30 (and maybe having learned a thing or two in the last decade) is just a perk.

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