The Good Patrons of 750 Words

A Note of Inspiration from Andy Hunt

2 cups

Anyone else suffered a streak-breaking backlash?
Ok, so this is my first writing in a week after breaking a 75 day streak, and I’d like to reflect on it, partly to share my experience and reaction and partly to see how other people cope with this.

I’ve been wanting to write stuff for about 7 years since my last book and nothing really happened on it because there was always something else more important to do. Then I came across 750 words and – like many of the people on this site – life changed. 75 days later I’d completed two month-challenges and built up a 75-day streak.

The break
Work (A full-time job) got busier and busier and I got tireder and tireder. Trying to spend time with a rapidly growing-up family, and various other concerts and musical commitments meant I was really burning the candle at both ends. I’d signed up to the June challenge and on the 3rd day life became so mad that I think my body rebelled. My other commitment to train to run an anti-cancer 10K had just broken down as a knee injury meant I could not walk let alone run. After tea I just fell asleep and just about slept through the night. In one shot I’d broken my streak and my June challenge, and my other challenge to get fit and run to raise money.

The consequences
I was a bit surprised at my reaction. It actually put me off writing for a week (until right now). I was amazed at how defensive I felt. I started deleting the daily email reminders, which for me had taken on a sinister tone “Looks like you’ve fallen out of the running”. Tut tut. I wanted to tell someone that they had no right to judge me. “Wall of shame! Is spending time with your kids and fulfulling your work commitments and making community music something to be shameful about?” I asked.
I think I needed some sulk time.
I’ve taken a week, and – now this is shameful – I’ve really enjoyed NOT writing.

The reflection
Looking back I think I had begun to rely too much on the potential negative consequences of breaking the challenge and the streak. “Oh no, what if I don’t write today? I’ll lose that streak” and so I found myself writing under pressure, begrudgingly, out of fear of negative outcomes, rather than focussing on the joy of writing and seeing my next book slowly emerge from its chysalis.

Clearly there is a motivating power in these things, but I wanted to reflect that – at least for me – it’s put me off writing for a while. I think I’m back as of today, but I’m going to be a bit easier on myself. Yes I want to create regular space for writing, but I want to enjoy that writing and not be bound to a negative contract that I’ve made with myself.

My leg still hurts and I still can’t run, but I have taken to walking through the countryside each day and being thankful that I can’t walk. The world doesn’t care that I’ve broken a streak or won’t be running in this particular race. So I think I’ve just been feeling the sulk of letting myself down; or maybe taking on too much in the first place.

How about Others?
I would love to hear how other people have coped. Are you straight back in for another streak? Can you ‘let it go’ that there’s a couple of broken commitments? What do you do when life just takes over and you can’t find the time or the energy to write? Is there anything wrong with the ‘stick’ approach of broken commitments, and are there any other ‘carrots’ that people use instead as positive motivators?

If you’ve read this far, I’m amazed. This is more of a therapy session than something that others must read. But thanks for reading.

Andy Hunt, York, UK

Testimonial Note from Andy Hunt on Sun, Jun 09
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