I recently took a short weekend trip to visit my significant other. This trip involved two flights, which — as you know if you’ve flown recently — involves a lot of sitting and waiting.
I very much wanted to enjoy a stress-free, work-free Valentine’s Day weekend (wouldn’t you?). But the thought of not writing anything — with some pretty major writing goals hanging over my head — bothered me.
So I made myself a promise: Write at the airport. Write on the plane. That’s a decent amount of time without having to disrupt your mini vacation. You got this.
Yeah, I totally had it. Until I didn’t.
I’m a pretty nervous traveler, especially when making a trip alone. So instead of writing while waiting at my gate on the way there, I sat, anxiously scrolling through Twitter, checking the time every five minutes.
That’s fine, I decided. As long as I wrote while in the air.
Takeoff went smoothly, as the vast majority of them do. And as soon as we were up way too many thousand feet in the air, I grabbed my bag, pulled out my writing materials —
And proceeded to fall into a dead, non-interrupted sleep for the next two and a half hours.
Don’t worry — I enjoyed my weekend and only thought about writing (or the lack thereof) a few times. This was not a writing trip, and I didn’t feel guilty for leaving my fiction in my backpack.
But that return trip, I was going to knock out some serious wordage. I just knew it.
Oh wait, I’m still a nervous flyer. So I guess I’ll spend the next two hours sitting at my gate not writing, again. BUT THE PLANE!
WILL TAKE OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAIN STORM!
ALMOST THREE HOURS OF TERRIFYING TURBULENCE!
In summary: She did not write a single word that weekend. But did get back home without crying. Progress.
There are moments we’d give anything to keep our own productivity promises to ourselves, only to realize we’ve set the bar a little too high (again).
Just because we fall short of our own expectations does not mean we’ll repeat the same mistakes next time.
My advice? Plan ahead as much as you can. But don’t make yourself miserable with guilt if you for whatever reason can’t follow through with those plans. Life. Happens.
As writers, all we can do every day of the year is our best. We can try to plan ahead and make words happen. But if that seemingly simple task becomes difficult, or we can’t do it, we can’t just lie down and give up. We have to figure out a way to work around it. To create despite it.
No, I didn’t get any writing done like I planned. Was I a little disappointed in myself? Of course. But now I’m prepared for next time. Now I know that planning to write on a trip like this probably isn’t the best way to go about it. I might need to plan on doing more writing before leaving, or make up for lost time after.
I know that something different needs to happen, all because I “failed.” Failure really is an excellent teacher. Pay attention to its lessons. Do better next time.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.