Process, Sleep, and Progress

Photo: I’m utterly fascinated by human ingenuity. I’ve been watching this building go up at MIT for years now. I think buildings are beautiful and the process of building absolutely fascinating. Even driving through the Big Dig (for all the headaches it caused everyone before I got here), I get a thrill out of thinking what we’re capable of. I took this photo not even realizing it’s perfect for today’s post.


It took two meditation apps and a little bit of white noise, but I got the best sleep on Monday night. Bone deep, put the soul to sleep, ain’t movin’, ain’t dreamin’, know nothin’ kind of sleep. I slept so hard, I left this place and went somewhere else. The body hurt and I had a slight headache when I came back to this place. A few stretches and a cup of coffee helped. The work of it all, and that sleep was work, broke down the wall that was building. Writer’s block was averted. I’m able to think again.

Writer’s Block deserves a postmortem after you’ve left it. You’ve got to make sure you don’t go down the same path again. Like knitting, when you’ve made a mistake and you’ve got to rip back until you fix it, writer’s block is often a result of when you knitted instead of purled, messing up the entirety of the pattern. This isn’t always the case, though: sometimes writer’s block is simply about the vibe. That’s what this was: I let a little too much reach a little too far into the sacred spaces of where I think and how I am. Not because I took something too personally or there was a sharp word said, but because I gave a little too much of myself away and didn’t take in enough for replenishment. Sometimes, for the sake of achieving the goal, I leave the doors a little too wide open.

Maybe that doesn’t make any sense. If it doesn’t, I apologize. Basically, I’m doing too much and I couldn’t do any more on Monday. If I had, I would have lost it. Sleep was the only medicine. I took it and I feel better.

And now I’m back to work: the Profile for church has got to get done. I’ve got a looming, large deadline coming in the new few weeks. I’m working with a team and navigating an audience to produce it. That means I have to be patient and communicative, forever thoughtful throughout the process.  I am also teaching a class that guides students through NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m prepping a story along with them. That means I have to teach, I have to produce work, and I’ve got to think about the whys and hows of my story, letting my students into my process and explaining myself. In 2 weeks (yikes!), I’m going to be producing fiction and then inviting feedback from an instructor and fellow writers. I am feeling increasingly anxious about this. Lord, I hope this is a good idea.

Until now, writing has been a fairly solo activity for me. There is always a feedback loop, sure, but the process part has always been my own, for me to tweak (or not) as I see fit. Including others, welcoming them in while making space for their evaluation and participation, is new. It’s like hosting house guests for an extended period: you’ve gotta clean up the place, arrange the furniture to be accommodating, be on your best behavior, do the work of hostessing.

It’s, frankly, exhausting. I’m an introvert, as you’ll recall.

Sleep, good sleep, letting-go sleep, putting-the-furniture-back sleep… that was good. This is an important lesson for me as I go through these next few weeks. Sleep is my friend. The reset is important.

But, so is the thinking. I’m grateful for skills I’m learning. I wrote a few weeks ago about the stretching and growing I’m doing in order to complete this task and do this work for my church. I have no regrets. I’m getting a lot out of it. Indeed, by learning to be more thoughtful about my process, I’ll become a better writer. Hopefully, I’ll be a braver and more confident writer. Perhaps I’ll reach out more and be unafraid of collaboration. Somehow, I might learn strategies that will make this less draining. We’ll see.

In the meantime, there is work to do. I have a handout to produce for my students tomorrow. At least I’ve got my readings copied! Copy from my team members is coming in for the Profile. I haven’t started on my class yet, but I have some ideas on how I’d like to make the most out of my time. There is knitting (so much knitting) and quilting (so much quilting) and embroidery (haven’t even started the embroidery) to be done. Burnout is dangerous and not an option. So… resetting the pace, resetting the expectations. It’s a marathon. Gotta breathe, gotta pace, gotta adapt… I can do this.

You can, too.

It’s Wednesday. So much is going on. You’re still here. There is still work to do. Let’s finish up this week strong.

And if any of ya’ll win the lottery, I hope you’ll remember your favorite blogger! 😉

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.


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