Making Peace with Structure & Discipline (or, Rather, Without)
Almost a month after posting my new blogging manifesto, I still struggle to write about personal topics. Each time I feel I should preface the post with 24-point red font that reads:
But today is just one day in a long list of days where I do not have all of the answers. Or even a lot of the answers. I’m just doing the best I can. And lately, that has involved doing as little as possible.
Pregnancy has shifted my inner rhythms. Or maybe it’s has just given me permission to reexamine those rhythms. I’ve never felt, for example, that my my working style aligns with societal expectations. I’m flighty. I tend to become obsessed with a project for a month or two, then burn myself out and turn to something completely different.
One month it might be a book proposal. The next, genealogy. Or knitting. Or reading the complete works of John Steinbeck.
This makes me a pretty well-rounded person. It also makes it nearly impossible to complete long-term projects, or stick to something as formal and rigid as a blogging schedule. If I don’t have a set deadline or a client to please, I’m kind of a flake.
I’ve tried to conform. For almost a year, I got up at 5 a.m., worked out for an hour, drove 40 minutes to work, spent an hour writing, then worked really hard the rest of the day so it didn’t look like I was slacking off.
Morning sickness and exhaustion put an end to that routine. But looking back on it, I realize that it never gave me any pleasure. The rigid schedule and the flurry of constant doing left me in a fog. My mind raced with all the stuff left to do and all the things I wanted to do but didn’t have the time.
Lately I’ve taken to following whims, bouncing from task to task as moods dictate. It makes me feel guilty, like I’m getting away with something. But it also makes me happy. I love working amidst the energy and enthusiasm that arrives unbidden at random moments.
I know this style is not conducive to long-term accomplishments. I know that the writers I admire recommend creating some sort of structure that involves sitting down at the same time and the same place, every day, and doing the work regardless of whims. I know that one day, I will find a happy medium that balances this structure with flexibility. One that balances routine with kindness and patience.
But right now, I am just letting things be easy.
It feels scary. That’s how I know it’s working.