One year ago today, inspired by Dean Wesley Smith, I started to write every morning. I wanted to start a streak and see how long I could keep it going.
One year ago, my husband was being hospitalized off and on, struggling with CMV after having a heart transplant. I was still his caregiver for 5 more months. I wrote every day.
In December/January, I started really having trouble breathing, so I went in for sinus surgery in February. The recovery time was six to eight weeks. I wrote every day.
During my recovery from sinus surgery, I discovered that I had breast cancer. Stage 2A, Grade 3. Two procedures and two more surgeries followed. Then 20 radiation treatments and all of the fatigue that goes with it. I wrote every day. Even on the days I had surgery or other procedures. I got up at around 2AM (I couldn’t sleep those nights anyways) and wrote before I had to go into the hospital for my 5AM check-ins. I wrote every morning before I went in for radiation, because the drive home after being blasted with radiation did me in for the day, so I had to get my writing done early.
I am still recovering from the breast cancer surgeries and radiation. The fatigue is finally fading. I am still writing every day.
And I went through all of this while struggling with a chronic illness (Meniere’s Disease).
The power of the streak is phenomenal. Every day, I was obsessed with making sure I got some writing done. Even if it was just 15 minutes worth. A meager 250 words was all I asked of myself while I was sick, recovering, and fatigued. And I hit it, every day. Sometimes I wrote more, sometimes not.
I do have to say that without reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Writing with Chronic Illness: Improve Outlook and Productivity I would never even have tried to maintain my streak this year. I would’ve thrown in the towel and said, “I’ll just wait until all of this is over with and I feel better.” If you have a chronic illness (or any sort of issue you feel is holding you back), I HIGHLY recommend this book. I have it in paperback and on my Kindle, and I have read it at least a half a dozen times.
Somehow, with this book, and by the grace of God, and with the encouragement of my husband, my parents, my mentor, and a few close friends, I managed to keep the streak alive instead of ever considering throwing in the towel.
I WANT this. I WANT to be a professional writer. This is what I want to do with my life. And if I keep putting it off until I feel better, or until there are no life rolls happening, it will never happen.
Over the last two and a half years, my brother (who lived with us) got really sick, was hospitalized, and then died suddenly. My husband had heart failure, received an artificial heart, and then that was followed by a heart transplant. Literally, as soon as he didn’t need me as a caregiver anymore, I had to have sinus surgery and that was followed by breast cancer. There were no breaks between these events. They overlapped, as one was finishing, the next started. No time for recovery. No time for normal to set back in.
I have written tremendously more in the last two and a half years than I have written in the previous five years before that. Because right as all of this started, I decided that the answer to the question, “if not now, when?” was probably never.
With my husband’s and my current health situations, there will never be a break. We will always be dealing with a new normal that is not normal at all. (And I’m not even touching on the world events that are swirling in chaos all around us every day at this moment.) Our lives will always be not normal.
So I press on. I am going to celebrate this milestone of one whole year of writing every day. But it will be a short celebration. Because I have to get back to my writing. It is what I have focused on through all of this mess. It has been what has gotten me through the days that have felt like a nightmare. My refuge. My daily focus. My happy-place. My dream.
For those of you who want to write, or play music, or whatever it is you want to do, DO IT EVERY DAY. Focus on setting your own streak. Even if it is just a few minutes a day. Those minutes will eventually add up to actual progress.
Life will always be throwing curve balls. If nothing else, 2020 has taught everyone that. So don’t wait anymore. Start that streak. Because there is never a calm that won’t be followed by a storm. Use the power of your streak to ride it through.