While writing the novel, I learned that I was able to take the zillions of ideas and swirling thoughts inside my own head and condense/collapse them into a story. Even more amazing, I was able to do that in a specific, demanding time frame. This is huge for me (and probably for others who participated). The number of stories/scenes/scenarios rolling around inside my head are probably countless, but I've learned they are useless up there in my skull. The real trick is to get it down on paper/computer where you can actually do something with it if you choose.
And I was able to do all of this noveling while standing on the plateau of my own despair getting the crap kicked of myself by my own persistent brokenhearted feelings. Sure, it was time to move on, and has been for quite some time, but that didn't stop me from continually torturing myself in this way.
I learned that even in my darkest, most self-indulgent times I could move forward in other ways even if I was still on that plateau. And, because everything else is moving forward, I have no choice but to follow by climbing down from that plateau to cheerier possibilities. The key for me is Time, Structure and Balance.
- Time - I've started scheduling my activities into specific time slots. This came directly out of learning to figure out when I was going to work on my novel in such a way as to meet that 11/30/06 deadline. While this seems confining, especially since I like some degree of spontaneity, I find it liberating because it allows me to focus on what I'm doing in the moment. One of my problems is I don't have a good sense for how long it takes me to do things in my personal life. I tend to over-schedule or not schedule at all. Scheduling in this manner really helps me.
- Structure - I started setting goals and mapping out the steps to accomplish them (also the result of writing a novel in a month). I've done this many times in the past, but never made it past the planning stages. Slipping goal-related tasks into time slots along with everything else seems like a natural next step.
- Balance - I need Balance like a fish (or turtle) needs water. I'm learning that internal vs. external, active vs. passive, open vs. closed, etc. is crucial to my feelings of contentment. If I start spending too much time doing something/not doing something then it's time to focus on the other side of things.