Happy Friday. Week six of #onemillionwords has been completed!
Today marks the end of the 6th week of #onemillionwords 2021 and it’s been interesting. Last week, I set a goal for myself; write 5k words every day to start catching up and outline three short stories for Lucifiel’s short story collection. Well, none of that happened. At all. My best day of writing was this past Wednesday, wrote 4,020 words which I was happy about but it still missed the goal I needed. That’s okay. We’re still early in the calendar year which means I still have 46 weeks to play catch up and at some point, as long as I don’t give up, I’ll be caught up.
Does this mean for next week my goal will be 6k or higher? Probably not because raising the number is a great way to trigger my flight or freeze response. Most ADHD brains do this. They either freeze up, scroll social media for hours while trying to get themselves to actually do The Thing or flight. Flight is when either our brains completely purge the information because it’s too stressful or we use something else we deem as just as important for a distraction. I’m usually the former because since the beginning of quarantine my executive disfunction has been at the worst it’s been in years. I’ve given full permission for my husband to take my phone if he sees me start to get stuck in a social media spiral.
I’m lucky enough to have a writing buddy in my husband for some of the time but he works full time, Monday through Friday. At least three of those days are out of the house. So, what am I to do when he’s not around? It’s been a trial to find out what works for me and what doesn’t. At first, we tried making an hour-by-hour schedule for myself the night before. That has about a 40% chance of working. Most of the time, if I don’t have accountability then I just sort of ignore the calendar notifications. I feel super guilty and then spiral into endlessly scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos. Accountability is a huge thing with my ADHD. I was always the one in college to organize study/workgroups because to me, that’s a great sort of accountability. Especially, if everyone agrees to give hourly or half-hour check-ins. It’s hard to be the only one in the group to be like ‘I wrote three words,’ while everyone else has a laundry list of things they accomplished in that time. Also, I’m competitive as hell. I will pick a person to one up and use that as motivation.
I had a friend in college who told me they did the same and usually picked me because we were the two English majors. From then on we were each other’s biggest work rivals and it worked extremely well for us but they’re now off living in Alaska of all places, originally from New Jersey, and raising three kids. That means I’m now accepting applications for a new ‘work rival’ and I’m only half kidding. We were each aware that ‘winning’ meant nothing more than bragging rights for the next five or so minutes as best. Or the occasional bet on who buys the other pizza from the local pizzeria which was honestly, not even that good but I went to college in a very small town so options were limited. Still, tangible prizes are great motivators.
Before COVID, I used to go to coffee shops and try to work there. It was a 50/50 since if the coffee shop was busy I could get easily distracted. If it was extremely busy though, I was able to power through all my work. Funny how the ADHD brain works. Little stimulation and we latch onto it. An overload of stimulation we block it out. Also, I kind of had to reason with myself if it was that busy I needed a damn good reason to be taking up a seat if I wasn’t working. Since more coffee shops weren’t that big this gave me a great kick in the pants.
I’ve had to find ways around that, ways that work well while quarantining. Let me start by saying nothing works 100% of the time. One of the best ways I could find, since I live in New England and the great outdoors is off-limits for another three to four months, was to switch rooms in my apartment. Unfortunately, I live in a four (minus the bathroom) room apartment. Two bedrooms and an open concept living room and kitchen area. This trick works if I don’t overdo it. There are only so many times I can room hop without it losing its appeal, especially when one is almost completely bound to the apartment 24/7.
My husband and I are house-hunting at the moment and you can bet that the first thing I think of when touring a house now is how I can manage being locked inside all day. Is there enough room for me to move around? To change my scenery? Is there usual outdoor space when there isn’t snow? Right now we’ve got almost 2 feet so unless I went out to the middle of our parking lot, that answer right now is a resounding no.
Basically, what I’m getting at is that trying to maintain constant productivity is hard in a pandemic. I say this but all the creative-minded people out there are just nodding and wondering why it took me so long to figure out. It didn’t but now that I have actual goals, it’s become more noticeable. It also becomes extremely noticeable when during a weekly update, I don’t have all that much to update my readers on for each project. They’ve all had a little bit of progress made in them but just a little.
I’ve gone on a bit on ways I try to achieve the best levels of productivity but I want to hear from my readers. What is everyone doing to keep themselves going? Whether that be to write, to draw, or anything else that is creative. Comment below and tell us! I’ll even try a few out and report back.