Halfway point check in for this experiment. This post is a little longer. Might want to grab a cuppa

Firstly, now that I’m 4 weeks in, I wanted to re-assess myself with the DASS – a screening tool that asks you about symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and Stress in the last 7 days. It’s not a complete diagnostic assessment tool, yes administering it to yourself is imperfect, and yes there’s some bias in that I’m obviously hoping the scores will go down (or at least, not increase). But without looking at my old scores, I printed off a new test and quickly went through it. Know that the day I completed it was the first day of my period and I was definitely more teary, lethargic and irritable in the last 7 days just because of that.

Updated DASS scores

Depression: mild

Anxiety: normal

Stress: Moderate

Specifically, my depression score has gone down 4 points, anxiety score has reduced by 1 point, and my stress score (which is still higher than I’d like) went down 8 points.

By pausing social media I’ve had more time to engage in activities I actually enjoy (behavioural activation is a huge component of shifting depression). I just don’t feel as distracted or that I need to be checking something.

I’ve had WAY more time for writing and creative activities. So much so that I’ve actually started writing another book. It’s all feeling a bit inception-like because I’m writing the book about the thing I’m talking to you about now – motherhood, mental health and social media.

As I’ve been reflecting, blogging and talking non-stop to anyone who will listen about this new endeavour I’ve found that I just have so much to say that’s flowing out of me. So much research I want to dive into that goes well beyond the character limits of a social media post, a weekly email or even a blog.  I like long-form writing. I’m good at it, and I’ve been itching for a project.

Books have a life of their own. They really do. They have a way of jumping up and insisting that they be written even if you had other plans. The book I just started writing yesterday was not planned. It was not part of my whiteboard mind map for 2021.

Parents of the Pandemic is still being written, don’t worry, it’s just that I’m a bit overwhelmed with it at the moment. I have over 1200 hours of video interview footage I’m reviewing and transcribing, and a couple of interviews I’m still chasing to satisfy my feeling of it all being ‘ready’.  It’s a difficult project, requiring deep work and chunks of time where I have to force myself to stop obsessing about it and just let it marinade.

Parents of the pandemic is not a book I can hop into bed with my laptop at night and just write straight out of my head. It’s like a research project where I have to keep reviewing and coding data before I can analyze it. There are definitely parts with my own reflections, but it’s very much a collective project of 10-12 other voices.

Just as I told myself “I’ll write this book on motherhood and social media later” and “definitely no more taking courses for a while” serendipity happened. I’d just finished up a marketing course with Leonie Dawson. Every time I’d log on, I’d see one of her other courses ’40 days to a finished book’. 

Now I’ve already published a book, why the fuck would I take a book writing course you ask?

Every time someone asks me how “the book” (More Than a Healthy Baby) is going they look surprised when I say I don’t know. But that’s the truth. I’ve yet to see my first royalty payment. It’s coming, and my publisher has ball-park figures but we don’t really know until all the payments from all the book sellers are collated. I don’t think I’m a bestseller…yet.

I’ve loved learning with Leonie so much that it was a no-brainer to sign up to another one of her courses before the price doubled. I had it in my head I’d save it for research later. Maybe I can learn something new about the process of book writing and publishing. I hadn’t planned on actually coming up with a book to write yet.

But the best way to learn is by doing. Being a participant not a spectator, so there I was five minutes into skimming the course and the next thing I know I’ve written a daily word goal and have a book idea. I wrote 1111 words in the first day – while the kids played.

For me, being a lifelong learner means you never settle for staying in ego – thinking you know everything already.

I’ve never really been drawn to the idea of daily word targets or accountability goals (I’m a Rebel tendency type, after all). But if you want something you’ve never had then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done – so I’m giving it a crack. There is a VERY good chance that a multimillionaire who is bestseller knows what she’s doing.

Pay women to transfer knowledge from their head to yours

Each time I’ve paid a Mum who has actually published a book to mentor me about writing and publishing it’s always been so valuable. Paying $99USD to learn directly from someone who is a bestseller, has earned over 11 million dollars and only works 10 hours a week? No brainer. If you want to sign up you can join me here. I also get an affiliate fee if you use my code which is a bonus because affiliate marketing where we pay other women we know instead of paying money to Zuckerberg for advertising is something I think we need more of

What am I writing in this 40 day book course?

So I decided that 40 days isn’t enough time to get Parents of the Pandemic written. It’s just not. But there’s no rules to say I can’t write two books at once!

In some ways, a 40 day challenge is perfect because:

I’m pretty burned out and don’t have a lot of energy anyway but I want to write. My soul keeps asking me to write. I think I can manage 40 days

It’s school holidays. I’m not working my usual office hours, so I only have a short time each day (like an hour max if I push it)

I’m writing these blogs and emails on my book topic anyway, so I already have material I can add to

It’s been yonks since I had a deadline, but I know I’ll keep it because I was the girl who’d hand in an assignment on the day it was due rather than ever ask for an extension

It’s only 40 days. If I get a published book out of it cool. If it never sees the light of day then it will certainly not be the first time. When I was writing my PhD I actually wrote a couple of novels in my down time (I know, I’m weird, but I obviously do love writing). I’ve never shown those novels to anyone. Not sure if I ever will!

The time saved on social media is time I could be writing a book

I really want to test this idea. Also, 4 weeks in has me really sitting in the idea of “Fuck what everyone else is doing”. This is my one short precious life. I want to do what I want to do.

While putting the bins out last night I had a moment of utter cheesy insight. I don’t want to be the person who looks up and down the street to see what bin everyone else has out and second guess myself.

I’ve also got no interest in being the first one with the bin out. You don’t get extra points for handing in your assignment early. Garbage rotting in the sun for hours with the ravens trying to pull the contents out is unnecessary

I also hate rushing last minute. I’m not a last minute Larry. I don’t thrive on last minute pressure to run outside with a sodden nappy in one hand, holding my boobs down with the other while the garbo’s speed up in the truck. Nope.

Nope. I’d rather just check my garbage app, know I’ve got the right bins out without cross checking what the neighbors are doing and just put my bin out in my own timing.  

Poetic, isn’t it?

P.S., if you’re writing a book or even kinda sorta maybe thinking of it, let me know! I’d love a writing buddy 😊

P.P.S., as a follow up to one of my older posts about making homework of listening to records – I found some records! I started with Portishead (self-titled, from 1997). It even has deliberate record-scratching in it (as in the sound effect is added, not an actual scratch on the vinyl) which was kind of mind blowing.