When I Need To Quit

So, I have recently started reading Allison Vesterfelt (www.allisonvesterfelt.com), and she has quickly become my new favorite blogger.  She writes so many things that make me look inside myself with a different perspective and learn to see who I am in a different way (this is also the main reason I love reading blogs!).

Recently, she’s been hosting a “Packing Light Challenge” that is designed to help you get rid of some of your baggage and lessen the things that are holding you back.  She’s encouraged people to blog about the challenge if they like, but I didn’t really feel compelled to until today. Perhaps I feel more driven to share this step of the process with you because my response to it really surprised me.

I am a little behind on the challenge, so this is actually yesterday’s task (Day 7 if you’re checking in from Allison’s blog).  And the task is this: (1) Write out a list of what you need to accomplish your dream and (2) Spend a little while (an hour, a day, a week) without something you think you need.

I quickly wrote down my list of things I need to reach my novel goals, including time to finish the manuscript, a literary agent and/or a publisher, and to be able to believe in myself, for real.  Which are all things I currently do not have.  I also need my laptop, my flash drive, and my imagination, which thankfully are all things I DO have.

Then I focused on the second part, trying to think of something I felt that I needed to try and live without.  Something that I used or did every day.  Something that would make a real impact on me.

Dude… I should have just stuck with Diet Coke when I first thought of it and not delved any deeper into this subject.  But the truth is, while I joke about a Diet Coke addiction, I don’t really need it, and I don’t even drink it every day (although my husband might tell you differently, I really don’t).

Now I’ve figured this challenge out, but I’m not sure I really like it.  I started by trying to think about what I felt I “needed” or even just something I did every day (that wasn’t a basic human function, like showering) and I came up with it.  Oh, I’m going to be so mad about this.  I can already tell.

I need to read fiction.  And I’m going to give it up for a week.  (Even writing that hurts.)

I crave it, desperately.  It’s where I go to relax, where I go to soothe myself, how I escape – from my life, my stresses, my laundry.  It’s even sometimes how I avoid things that I perhaps should not be avoiding.  It can be an abyss.  Sometimes I get lost there.  It also helps me with my own writing; I believe firmly that a writer needs to be a reader first.  You have to know what works and what doesn’t, and how a story flows, and how will you learn those things without reading them?  A book is my friend on so many levels, it’s hard to count.  I absolutely love stories.  So what would it be like to go a whole week with no fiction books?  Oh… so hard.

It seems sort of counter-intuitive to cut out something I love, and something that actually does good for me.  But, let’s be real: is not reading for a week going to make me a worse writer?  No.  One week of anything is not going to make my writing fall apart.

This is even something I’ve thought about doing before.  For one thing, it would open up a lot of free time in my day – I wouldn’t be able to use it to relax me, or to distract me from something else I’d rather not be doing – and then end up getting lost in it for the rest of the day, as seems to happen so often.  And, I admit, I’ve wondered what ideas might come out of my own mind if I didn’t have books and, thus, was forced to live in a lot more silence in my own brain.  It might be interesting.  And as my reward, I can go out to Barnes and Noble and buy a really good book to start on the 9th, when my seven days will be up.

Either way, I think that over the next seven days, the point about what you really can live without is definitely going to be made in my brain.

Is there a patch for this?  I may need care packages sent…  Or some sort of RA (Readers Anonymous) Group?  And Allison, if you check in: I will be reading Packing Light soon.  But not until October 9th.


Have you ever given up something you thought you needed?  How did it feel?  Did you learn anything from the experience?

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