Turning dreams into reality is a long term project

2016 is the year I face my creative fears. I call it my Fear Year. Every month I publish a report, looking back on the month, sharing my thoughts, fears and lessons learned. If you want context, you can read more and find the earlier reports here

Fears faced: Letting my creative dreams take time. Starting to work on my novel again. Drawing my inner voices.

Struggles: Battling stress and overwhelm.

Lessons learned: Things will take time and that's okay. I want my dreams to come true, but I'm in this for the long run. Rushing will only make the journey stressed. Let's enjoy the ride in patience instead.

April 1

Everything feels like crap right now. Why does it feel like crap? Everything is going well, isn't? So why do I feel like this? 

It doesn't matter that I've gotten praise, this is something internal. It's like I've run out of energy to believe in myself fiercely.

Embracing the mess

Facing fears has different steps. I'd gotten beyond the start now. The big scary leap was over. The slow, dreadful, everyday doubts were here. Being brave every day, in the small moments. In the big picture of life.

I got overwhelmed with it all. My blogging was getting real and serious, and I realized I still had such a long way to walk. I got freaking stressed. I wanted everything to happen at once, but I had no time. I saw all the things I could do better, all the things I needed to be doing. The fear of never reaching my dreams started to tick, I made lists and plans and things piled up before me. It all felt like a big giant mess I was trying to fight my way through and I was only barely keeping my nose above it.

I forced myself to just stop. I could work like a crazy person or I could acknowledge I was being crazy. Forcing myself to slow down and chill the fuck down helped. I told myself it doesn't have to happen overnight, and it won't. I have to give it time. I reminded myself of what I'd learned from the month before - this should all be a fun and happy experience. It won't be if I'm so stressed out. I have to let it take the time it'll take. I can't let the mess freak me it out, I have to embrace it because it's not going anywhere. Just like fear.

April 5

I really need to find a way to work on my novel. That's the core of my Fear Year, isn't it? The fear keeping me from finishing it was what made me decide to do this whole thing in the first place. 

I need to push through that fear. What has helped me before? 

Joining Camp NaNoWriMo

When trying to figure out how to start working on my novel again, I logged into Camp NaNoWriMo - the wonderful writing challenge that I'd already done a couple of times - and realized there was a camp running in April. Immediately I decided to join, it was perfect! 

In November, which is the original event that the camps are based on, the goal is to write 50 000 words in a month. That's roughly the length of a short novel, and about 2/3 of the length of my novel. Since I had done NaNoWriMo before, I knew that writing that amount wasn't likely this month. I was starting late, I was working full time and building up a blog in my spare time. Instead, I went for half that amount, 25 000 words. It was a stretch but that usually worked to get me moving. I thought I just needed to push through.

The first weekend, it went well. I successfully broke my dry spell and wrote 4000 words. This could work, I thought.

April 16

Dear Patience. 

Why do I keep treating you so badly? I say I should do better, but I don't. I'm still so rushed, so stressed. It needs to end now. It's time to bring back stillness.

Choosing patience

I had decided to do a follow up blog post to Dear Doubt, the post I'd loved writing so much. Due to the month starting so stressed, I decided to write my second letter to Patience. 

As soon as I sat down to write, I realized it was a letter of apology. I described how I'd treated it, let Doubt and Stress beat it down and almost die. I asked for forgiveness and promised that I would choose it, nurture it back to health. I'm not the kind of writer who cries when I write, but this time I did. The words just screamed back at me. Dear Patience. Please forgive me. It hurt to realize that I, who considered myself to be a long term gal, was hurting myself, letting stress do what it wanted with me. 

Writing that letter, I understood what power writing to myself had. In the following days something shifted within me. I thought I'd made up with the stress when I decided to embrace the mess, but I hadn't learned my lesson. Giving myself that goal of writing 25 000 words was proof that I was still rushing things. 

I really really want to finish my novel. If I had the choice, I would rent a cabin in the woods for a month and only work on it. But that's not what my life looks like at the moment. Writing a novel takes time and revising it, rewriting and making it better, is a slow process. It has to be a slow process. The first draft can be rushed through to just get everything down, but at the stage of my novel, my writing needs to be at the level it can be, when I give it time

April 21

It's all growing, in a wonderful way. My visual creativity is growing, the Teacup Owls are growing, and now I've found a wonderful little supportive group of like-minded people. My view of my blog and the other projects are growing, changing slightly.

Slowly, things seems like they are starting to take shape. 

I'm just getting started

After understanding how big of an effect writing to my patience had on myself, I decided to keep on with this little project. I named it Dear Self and started to draw my internal voices, like I'd thought of doing right when I wrote the first letter. 

I had been invited to what they call a "mastermind", essentially a group of people doing something similar supporting each other, and it was quickly becoming a safe space for me. Having a group to chat with, talking about the dreams, struggles and strategies, calmed me. It felt like I'd found a home for all those feelings I'd had building this blog. Finally, I could relax a little and once again just enjoy the ride.

The pull towards visual creativity that had been making itself know ever since I started my Fear Year was as strong as ever. Finally, I was really giving in to it and drawing, playing with acrylics and trying out watercolor. My Instagram was becoming more and more of a home for what I almost dared to call art.

April 30

I could be angry at myself for not reaching the 25 000 word goal I set up earlier this month, but I won't. I wrote 5700. It's not a lot, but it's enough for now. There are other things pulling my attention and right now, I have to let that be fine. 

I need to find a way to make my creative life sustainable, including my novel writing. Build a life instead of bursts of action.

I'm in this for the long run

In the beginning of the month, I'd felt completely overwhelmed by everything I needed to do. I wanted everything to happen at once. Now, after a few weeks of reminding myself to choose patience, it was better. I knew I had many little steps ahead of me, but it was okay. I would take them one by one.

Because that's the thing. I'm not just here for a silly year long project. My novel doesn't have to be done just because my Fear Year ends. I don't have to have accomplished X and Y. Because I'm in this for the long run. 

Yeah, I want my dreams to happen. But dreams don't turn into reality over night, it's a long term project. I've started somewhere, and I'm on my own right track. That's what matters.

Actually, this is more than a project. This is life.