New Year, Old Habits

Image by Crystal Hurd
Image by Crystal Hurd

By Crystal Hurd

The winter winds are blowing outside, making a few old leaves tumble over themselves. Remnants of an expired year. Watch as they slowly exit, like refuse being swept by Nature’s broom, out of your vision. There is something beautiful and cathartic about it. The old year scurrying away as the new year gallantly enters.

And with it, all of those promises for change.

It could be for weight loss. Or to read the Bible through. Or to clean up some mess in your house or your life.

For me, it was to write more. I know writers say that all of the time, but I have a list of projects ahead of me. And deadlines. And personal projects that I really, really want to focus on this year.

I signed up for Jeff Goins 500-word Challenge and thought that this would jump-start my writing goals. Really, 500 words isn’t all that difficult, right? That’s barely a page of typed prose. I can handle that.

And then, I started back to work. I teach high school English and Creative Writing. We operate on a five-period day where I teach for four and do lunch duty during the fifth. It’s a blessing if I have time to visit the restroom most days. I have around 25 minutes for lunch, which I inhale before teaching for another three hours.

So I arrived home exhausted this week. One day, I fell asleep at around 6 P.M. A couple of those days, I had some errands to complete and collapsed when I got home. Before work, I run on the treadmill (Oh, losing weight was also one of my resolutions…) so writing in the morning usually isn’t manageable.

All of a sudden, those 500 words are looking like Mount Everest.

Here I am ten days in, and I’ve written around a day’s worth of text. I am supremely disappointed in myself yet I am the only one to blame. Instead of heading into my office and closing the door, I lay semi-conscious in bed. I know I should take initiative and fire up my laptop, but Big Bang Theory is on. The sheets are nice and warm and I don’t want to move. My brain is waving a white flag and I mutter to myself, “That is all for today.”

If I stay in this mode, I will ultimately fail at all of the writing goals I have established for the year. Writing is hard work. There are times when, like a weary soldier returning from the front lines, you must trudge through and do the work. No matter how tired you are. No matter how long the lines were at the grocery store. No matter what small family crisis you had to untangle that day. Go in, shut the door, and get it done.

I realize that there will always be housework and maintenance. There will always be papers to grade and recommendation letters to write. On and on and on. The hamster wheel continues uninterrupted as long as I choose to stay and run.

But one day, I am going to retire (which at the rate of my student loans, will probably be around age 90) and some obscure relative will place me in a retirement home. My property, the one I struggled so hard to maintain, will be sold to strangers. As evening closes on my life, I will stare at the wall and watch the nurses circle my bedside. Seasons change outside of my window, while I, immobile, am tethered to machines.

And I will ask myself the difficult questions: what have I done with my life? Yes, I deeply loved and was loved. I taught some wonderful students. But what did I create? If I truly felt called to write, did I accomplish this or, like the Biblical story, did I bury the talents and neglect it? Right now, in this moment, I have power to shape the outcome. I love to write. I love to create. But I am my own biggest stumbling block. I cannot seem to fan the fog from my face some days. I surrender prematurely. I give up before I even sit down at my desk.

And I cannot continue like that!

So, readers of All Nine, I am asking for help. I am asking all of you to keep me accountable in my journey this year. I have a BIG personal project that I want to send out to some prospective publishers in the spring, but I’ve barely written a word of it. I have several projects that are “in utero” but are not finished. I need a swift kick in my bum on an almost daily basis. Will you please deliver that swift kick?

Tweet me @Doctorhurd.

Thanks in advance!


Dr. Crystal Hurd is a writer, reader, public school educator, and adjunct professor.  She is happily married with three beautiful Terriers (adopted from local shelters).  She is a certified book nerd who loves to read and research works involving faith, literature, art, and leadership.  You can visit her webpage , friend her on Facebook, (Crystal Sullivan Hurd) and follow her on Twitter:  @DoctorHurd and @hurdofficial.


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