Remember how I joined the Quest2015 challenge in December? Yeah, everyone else who dug in enjoyed it so much we’ve continued the journey together into the year. So now we’re living the quest. Today’s prompt has enough meat to it, it deserves a full blog post.
“How will you respond to challenges differently this year? No risk, no challenge, no quest. It’s that simple. What one to three challenges and messiness could you inevitably face this quarter while executing your one project? Define those challenges. Write about them. Then ask yourself, How can you respond to them differently than you did last year? Write, draw, doodle, paint, flow chart, or compose your way into imagining how you can respond to challenges differently in order to execute your one project.”
What one to three challenges and messiness could you inevitably face this quarter while executing your one project?
I think it’s cute that the Questers are talking about one project. I’ve got about five. I’ve got the one that has a deadline, the one that lights my brain on fire, and the one that women call and text me about at odd hours. I’ve got the one that’s asking me to photograph things and draw, and the one that urges me to keep the sewing machine unpacked. Oh, and then there’s my full-time job….
In terms of challenges that I know I’ll face, the easiest one to name is Time Management – but this beast is no stranger to me. I always have too much to do. I’ve got more work than one person can reasonably manage, more projects than there are hours in a day. Each moment is a conscious decision about what is the best use of my time. Sometimes, that’s laying in the dark bedroom, staring at the ceiling fan in the half-light from the kitchen. Sometimes it’s having coffee with friends. Usually, it’s knuckling down and finishing one scene. Starting one outline. I excel at this. No one doubts my ability to prioritize. How am I responding differently to this challenge? I don’t know yet. Let me keep chewing on the question.
The other challenge that I can already see on the path ahead is Staying Focused. I’m deeply grateful for this post from a fellow quester, Susan. The Chrome app momentum is a gentle nudge back to task, especially when I am opening new tabs in a moment of boredom or out of blind habit. I already set out to be more deliberate about my social media time, and this helps remind me that I’ve got other stuff to do beyond get caught up with the internet. This simple app is how I’m responding differently to my focusing challenge.
The final challenge I know I’ll face is one of my always-demons. Guilt. Shame. This demon says things like “You’re not spending enough time with your friends/family/cats.” This one says “Your house is a mess! How can you write in this wreck?” This is the one that says “This is crap. You’re not smart/good/interesting enough to do this work.” Personally, my favorite way to get rid of this demon is to imagine it huge and ugly, cock my imaginary shotgun like Sarah Connor, and blow it’s nasty head off. Maybe that’s just me….
How will I respond differently?
Look. I write a lot of dystopias. My inner world is a desolate wasteland where characters struggle to survive. In terms of inner strength, I’m pretty badass. Challenges schmallenges. Bring. It. On.
My usual approach to challenges is Baby Steps. I look up the mountain and I know I want to see the view. I whoof out a deep breath, I grunt and I start walking. It doesn’t matter how slowly I go or how long it takes. I will get there eventually. I don’t think this approach is necessarily the wrong one. It has gotten me through novels word by word and scene by scene. It has gotten me through debt payoffs and it’s gotten me up mountains.
But do you see what all of these descriptions of how I face challenges are? Joyless.
When real babies take real steps, there is celebration. People laugh and clap and shout and take videos and photos and brag about it on Facebook. Stumbling forward steps in babies is celebrated and encouraged. Babies learn to balance and stand on their own two feet, and proud parents reward them with smiles.
How will I face challenges differently? I’ll create more milestones, and I’ll celebrate them. I’ll tackle my baby steps with joy and wonder, instead of with my head down making sure my feet don’t stumble on the path. Maybe stumbling’s not so bad. Maybe that’s part of the excitement of learning.