After noticing what commitments you make to your writing (as recommended in last week’s post), the other significant questions are: Did you do what you said you’d do? And how do you feel about what you did?
I encourage students in my Writing Habit class to stick to the facts when checking in about what they said they were going to do and what they actually did. No long stories, no excuses, and most especially, no judgments or evaluations of what they did. Even though developing discernment about our work is vital, judgment never helps writers. “Just the facts, ma’am” I remind them.
After they review the facts, I ask students how they feel about what they committed to and what they did. Many of them respond by telling me what they think. “I feel I did a pretty good job,” or “I feel I can do better.”
While I do care what they think, I’m more interested in how they feel. So I give them a nudge to examine what emotions they felt during the week and what emotion they feel in the moment. You might think that how you feel about your writing is moving away from the facts that I so strongly encourage students to pay attention to. But emotions are valuable information.
When you realize “I feel satisfied and content” or “I feel proud of what I did” or “I’m happy about what’s happening in my writing and my writing life,” just noticing those emotions is a reward and celebration. Paying attention to those feelings makes it much more likely you’ll repeat the experience.
On the other hand, when you realize “I feel disappointed that I let resistance get in the way” or “I’m frustrated that I can’t find more time for my writing” or “I’m sad and embarrassed I’m not doing what I say I’m going to do,” you give yourself the information you need to make a change. Paying attention to uncomfortable emotions (instead of numbing your awareness with excess food or a glass of wine or overindulging in TV, Facebook, work and other mind-deadening substances or activities) gives you the motivation to take action. Emotions motivate action.
Whether your emotions are positive, negative or neutral, noticing how you feel and why gives you the information you need to move (or keep moving) in the right direction and to take action that will make you feel good (or maintain feeling good) about yourself and your writing.
That’s why one of the columns on my Product Time Progress Report that I complete every day is “How I feel about today’s writing.” Today, I can write “Relieved and a little smug that I got a blog post drafted and ready to go.”
What do you want to record about how you feel about your writing today?