Writing Journal 6.1.2022: Disaster… weeklong slump… but I think I might pull it out and I’m not that far off pace so I need to get over myself

[PHOTO NOTE: This was the first thing that popped up when I typed “Disaster Area” in the image search.]

No whining, no crying, no complaining. I sensed there was going to be a slump the minute I looked at my numbers from last year and realized that the end of the school year usually means that mentally I need a break and I usually take a break by sitting in front of a laptop and doing nothing.

But, this year I was aware of it. I knew ahead of time that this was coming, and I decided that I needed to get ahead of it or try to manage it. I also had that goal I’ve been talking about – 200,000 words this year, and meeting my minimum daily goals (500 words a day or 30 minutes of planning/revisions in a day). Now, let’s see how far I am from those goals as May wraps up.

First, here are last week’s totals, which are easily the worst I’ve had this year. The fact that I have only had one week in three figures rather than several is at least good news, because the following numbers aren’t:

Writing statistics for the week ending 5.28.2022:
+580 words written.
Days writing: 2 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 3 of 7 for 105 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 3 of 7 days.

Now, here are May’s overall numbers:

Writing statistics for May 2022:
Words: 12,563
Revise/Plan: 255 minutes
Daily Writing Goals Met: 54%

Again, this was the worst month statistically for me this year, although the second half of the month was when I really collapsed.

Anyway, where does this leave me regarding my goals I mentioned above?

As of June 1, 2022, I am counting 91,179 words to my total so far. I have met my daily writing goals a total of 76 percent of the time. Assuming that I want to be on pace to get to 200,000 words this year, I am still more than 8,000 words ahead of my pace and also ahead of the 70 percent mark.

So… I’m not panicking. I have the feeling that the fact that I have been monitoring the numbers on a monthly basis more closely than I did last year makes me more comfortable than I was last year when I was just guessing.

I have the whole month of June off. It’s going to be a long month, too. I’m getting more confident that this will only be a lost week rather than a lost month.

I’ll leave you with that. Going to get back to some of those things I wanted to write.

Why It’s Tough For Me to Write Anything of Value on Sundays During the School Year: A somewhat thought-out analysis

If you took a look at my writing journals – not the ones I post here on the blog, but the actual Microsoft Word Docs where I keep my notes on what I wrote every day of the year – you would notice something of a pattern.

Actually, you might notice several of them, but we’re not going to worry about all of them now. What you would notice is that there are quite a few… empty spaces on Sundays.

Oh, I might do a short blog, or maybe a few revisions or planning, but not heavy writing. And that’s all about what Sunday is like.

Since I’m not interested at the moment with writing something “important” or “buzzworthy,” I guess I might talk about this for a bit.

Weekend thinking and weekday thinking are prevalent things in America, where some people can’t seem to find work/life balance. Some people my age might think Loverboy’s song “Working for the Weekend” is the perfect song to express this type of yearning for the end-of-week break. (They’re wrong; the best weekend song is “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” by Richard and Linda Thompson.)

For teaching, it is a different situation. Those who don’t know what it is like, you might think, “Well, they only work some 180 days out of the year and get something around two whole months off? Sounds like an easy deal?” And I admit, the summer vacations are a good thing.$

Anyway, the point is that full-time teaching is a more intense experience that most jobs. You have to have a plan to educate a group of children for a given time and to make it meaningful during that time. You actually have to relate to those kids, even on days when, in some cases, they are dealing with massive amounts of mental and emotional trauma. (If they are lucky, the source of that trauma is not their own homes.)

All of this tends to take a lot of emotional and likely physical stamina over a nine-month period. It’s not a surprise that many of my colleagues wind up more susceptible to illness during the school year with the stress they are under. These past couple of years have added COVID, distance learning and hybrid learning to that level. I have to say that I have been fortunate that I am teaching in a relatively good environment and my health, while it could be better, is holding up.

Let me explain a typical Sunday for me, writing-wise and personal-wise.

First, some background. I would say that my weekend would extend, mentally, for approximately 36 hours over a typical two-day weekend. That 36 hours spans from when I leave school on Friday afternoon and runs until I wake up on Sunday. Because on Sunday, you’re going to be getting yourself ready for the week to come. Sometimes that involves grading, or perhaps planning for the week ahead. Maybe you’re trying to get some last minute paperwork done. Or, you could be distracting yourself from all of that coming up%.

Morning – wake up, try to have breakfast and relax. Some people will watch the NFL all day or maybe the NBA – my sport winds up being soccer. Since I’m watching the European leagues (and their season extends throughout the entire school year), I find myself getting up a bit early to catch the live games. Sometimes Formula 1 will have a race, and I’ll take a couple hours to watch that.

Later in the morning – I’ll try to get some housework done@ – cleaning floors, laundry, vacuuming, maybe a little yardwork. Or not. Maybe the late game in the Premier League?

Afternoon – if I am doing any schoolwork, it will be that time. For my sanity, I have restricted any work to this time. So, either I’m doing a little bit of work or I’m trying to distract myself from doing work or thinking about work. That’s because by 6 a.m. the next day, I’m already getting ready to shower, change and get ready for work#. That’s not too much time when you think of it.

Evening – Dinner is done, Laura and I relax for the night. We both have gotten obsessed with the cartoon TV series Bob’s Burgers, so we tend to try and catch the new episodes playing on Sundays. (Yes, we are preparing to watch the movie when it comes out later this month. It looks like a lot of fun.

About 9 p.m., maybe an hour before I go to bed – Wait a minute, I have to write something before I go to sleep?

So, now you know. But I did write something today, so that’s a success. I’ll take them any way that I can get them.

$ – In the spirit of full disclosure, however, many of my colleagues are actually taking on second or third jobs during that time to help with their bills. The more unlucky teachers have to do that during the active school year.

% – Where do I fall into this spectrum? I usually try to be as efficient with my time away from school as possible. Everything else on that subject I’ll keep off the record.

@ – Full disclosure – if it were not for my loving wife who is a much more dynamic go-getter and Type A personality, our house would not look as nice as it does.

# – Protip – always make sure you have the coffeepot set, your lunch packed, and your clothes picked out and ready to go before you go to bed the previous evening. Trust me, it saves a lot of hurrying and stress in the morning.