Choices, Procrastination, Overbooking

Today, I made a choice to work on yearbook for PTA. I made a choice at the beginning of the year to be the Yearbook co-chair, and no matter how much I may regret that choice I committed myself and therefore must do it! The thing is, I usually like doing creative tasks, like design the yearbook. But now, I feel like it’s one more thing I added to my list when I should have made my focus this year writing and running.

I started out this year gung ho about writing. And as other humans may know, sometimes that insatiability at the beginning wanes with time.

For instance, when you meet a new person and fall in love, all you can think about is that person. 24/7 you are thinking about them, fantasizing about them, and wanting to talk to them over and over again about everything under the sun. You literally cannot get enough. You think the feeling will last forever, and suddenly without warning you’ve been married for fifteen years, and that person you used to feel so giddy about is scratching his butt on the couch and peeing all over your guest bathroom floors. Honeymoon over.

The same thing happens when we take on a new endeavor like writing. When I first started focusing on my writing, all I wanted to do was write. I loved the feeling of writing. I loved the rush it gave me when someone praised my work. But then, I hit a roadblock, and wham! I stopped writing.  Why? Because writing is hard, and a writer has to make a conscious effort to choose to write, even on the days when that writer feels like the writing sucks. Even on the days, when the writer writes 1,000 words and promptly hits delete. Even on the days, when she feels like no one is buying her work. Writing is hard and full of roadblocks and rejection. So how can we stop the roadblocks from holding us back in what we want to achieve in life? How can we go forward with our writing when we feel overwhelmed?

  • First, stop choosing everything else over writing. Stop blaming procrastination. Procrastinating is a choice.  Once you realize this, it’s easier to think consciously about moving on from that procrastination and choosing to write especially on the days it’s hard. People have praised me for having written two books saying, “I can’t believe you do that, have three kids, and a day-job,” but the truth is when there’s something you want to do and love to do then nothing can stop you from doing it. So don’t let yourself stop you from doing it simply because it’s hard.
  • Don’t take on more than you can chew. I need to listen to this advice. I think in our world, we’re expected to do so much. Be a working parent, go to all the school functions, volunteer, make food. But don’t. Seriously learn how to say no. I didn’t say no enough this year and probably overextended myself. Don’t add things to your life if you don’t have the time to commit to them.
  • Prioritize: If you’re striving to be a writer, get published, or finish a novel then make writing your priority. Get up early and write. Stay up until midnight to write. Just write so words can get on paper and you are achieving your goals. Make choices that are conducive with this lifestyle, instead of making choices that will sabotage your end-game.
  • Give Yourself Grace: Being someone who has dealt with depression for most of my adult life, this one is very important. Everyone needs weeks and sometimes even months to regroup. Sometimes I do this by watching hours of Netflix. Then I won’t watch TV for months, and I’ll refocus on my writing or my reading (which by the way helps you be a better writer).
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help: I think we humans tend to think we live in a box and that our experience is individual from everyone else. The truth is, we’re part of a larger society. We have other people we can depend on when we need it. My husband is a huge supporter of me. He makes my life easy at home, often doing laundry, cooking, and generally picking up the slack. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have his help (live in a pit). And the thing is, I know I can always talk to him when I’m feeling down, or when I’ve been procrastinating for months, or when I think nobody will ever read my book again. The truth is, being a writer is hard and can be discouraging, so having someone who can talk you out of the deep pit of despair is awesome. Having people who say, “You need to write,” is inspiring and it helps motivate me to do what I want again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because true friends want you to succeed.

This post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to my audience on what I need to do to stop letting life get in the way of achieving my dreams.

What do you think is your biggest hindrance to your goals?

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Funk and Whine

I’m in a writing funk again. I know it’s not a horrible funk, because I’m still writing. I’ve been writing mostly flash fiction and not focusing on my current novel-in-progress. I think I’ve pinpointed when these funks happen, during times of transition. My baby did just start Kindergarten after all.

Anyone who has had a small child knows how hard transition can be. Your kid is happily playing with Thomas the Train at Barnes and Noble and you say, “Okay Tommy, it’s time to go,” and he turns from a peaceful angel into a squalling monster. Transitions are inevitable throughout life, but even so they throw an emotional monkey wrench into our plans.

So, yeah, it should be no surprise to me that transition times wreak havoc on my creativity. Yet every time I delve into a funk I feel wholly unsettled. Like my skin is itching and no amount of scratching will fix the problem. The solution is easy: Just write, right? But it seems every time I power up Scrivener I stare at the words and Anna Kate, though she speaks to me throughout the day and begs me to finish her story refuses to show me the way the story should flow. And then I sigh, power down the computer and feel like the world is ending because I can’t write. I’m pretty sure every author has felt this way at some point or other. Maybe that’s why so many of them are driven to drink, that, and alcohol is pretty damn good!

Lately, instead of writing I’ve been reading a lot more but I haven’t finished any of the books I’ve started either. I’m struggling through Cold Sassy Tree, a Southern fiction book I loved when I was a kid. I’m loving Bird by Bird, but it’s slow going because I have so darn much on my plate. Instead of focusing on what I feel I can’t do this week, I’m going to take up all my pent up energy and use it on the treadmill, at Zumba, and maybe even attempt an Insanity class. Maybe working out my body will give me the motivation to tackle my project again and get some much-needed editing done on Little Birdhouses.

How do you dig yourself out of a funk? In life? In writing?


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