Fine Line Between Writing and Life

My husband and I have recently had a series of discussions about where we are in our lives right now and how it’s different than what we had planned years ago. Like a great many people, we aren’t exactly where we wanted to be at this stage in our lives. Not a big surprise. However, those discussions and the children going back to school today – wheeeeeeee! – combined to hit me over the head.

They made me feel the need to reevaluate my writing and my writing life. ‘Cause something still isn’t quite workin’.

My writing goal for this year was simple: finish the first draft of my novel. Well. Guess it’s not looking too promising at the moment. Particularly with birthdays and holidays coming fast and furious toward the end of the year. I have to ask myself why a year isn’t going to be enough. I come up with the usual: I’m just getting started, still learning the process and seeing what works for me, I have all these other family obligations I’m responsible for, etc., etc. It all seemed valid before, but not so much now. Looking back, I see quite a bit of wasted time.

Like a lot of writers, I’m a really good procrastinator. Little things that don’t necessarily need to be done, somehow have to be done NOW or I won’t be able to settle down and write. Then, it’s amazing how antsy I get sitting. I’ll write for a while and then my legs feel crampy or crawly (Restless Legs Syndrome runs in my family, but I never noticed it in myself until now, which makes me think it’s just in my head.) and I need to get up and move around. While I’m moving around, I see dishes and laundry that need to be done or, and this is one that kills me, bills to be paid – my least favorite thing to do in the world!

Would I really rather do something I detest than write? The thing into which I’ve put time, energy, money, imagination, and dreams these last few years? Hello! That’s obviously NOT what I intended to do.

So, where do I go from here? Good question.

Organization springs to mind. I used to be the most organized person I knew and lost it somewhere. Probably took off with my sanity for a whirlwind trip around the Mediterranean. I need to reel that baby back in! 

At the very least, I need to reschedule. Over the years, I’ve rearranged my daily schedule depending on the priorities at the time. Once again, it’s needed.

I see I still have not put writing near the top of that priority list. Funny, I thought I had. But I know I can do better. Definite writing time needs to be set aside. I’ve typically used early mornings for that. But it’s not enough. My most productive time is still in the morning, but I always felt I needed to add in exercise and running errands and bill paying, etc. to that same time, because later on in the day, I don’t feel like doing any of those things. Well, I need to stop whining too.

I need to get serious about interruptions during my writing time. My family has been supportive of my writing. Up to a point, though. No matter that I tell them to leave me alone when I’m writing, I always get interrupted. I need to be firmer about that. But also schedule my writing smartly. I need to be available to my family at certain key times of the day.

I have to stop feeling guilty. Oh, that’s a big one. Stop feeling guilty that I’m not spending 2-3 hours cooking dinner the way I used to. Stop feeling guilty for not being there for every little thing for my family. Stop feeling guilty for not working a “regular” job.

I’m learning to look at things from a different perspective. I’m looking for quicker-to-prepare foods that aren’t full of additives and preservatives.  (Rachael Ray has completely changed my way of thinking about this.)  I need to stop my automatic reaction to drop everything when someone needs me. So many years of doing this when the girls were little has conditioned me like Pavlov’s dog. However, the girls need it explained (again) that not everything is an emergency, no matter what they think. They also need to learn to think ahead to what they may want to get permission to do while Mom’s busy. That bit about a regular job is a more complex topic and I need to think more about it.

So, things are once again changing. Hmmmm – no heart palpitations and hyperventilating this time. I guess I’m on the right path.

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7 comments on “Fine Line Between Writing and Life

  1. Texanne says:

    Oh, boy, have you hit a nerve! I’ll be watching to see what you figure out about this. And bring ideas to the forums, too! *Lots* of folks have the same concerns.

    PS: All the best–and I believe you can still finish that novel by the end of the year!

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  2. Oh Rachael Ray! She really inspired me when I was looking to streamline mealtimes without sacrificing quality food and she taught me how to invent my own 30-minute meals, which has really helped since we went vegetarian two years ago.

    And I feel ya, big time, on this dilemma. I’ve struggled the past six months or so and I believe I stumbled on why this past Sunday when I realized my family doesn’t really support my writing goals (excluding my awesome daughter who is truly my biggest supporter). That hurt but it also set a fire under my ass because I don’t need their support or approval – just my own passion and persistence – and I’m more determined than ever not to lose sight of my goals despite outside opposition. [I realized I was letting their attitudes affect mine — “I must suck if my family won’t support me” or “This must be a stupid goal if…” you get the idea. Buncha self-talk malarkey.]

    I’m a firm believer that when you truly want something done, it gets done. From your post and “knowing” you for a while now, I have a feeling your guilt and perfectionist tendencies get in the way of your writing goals. Just remember every day is a new day and, like Texanne wrote, there’s still plenty of time to finish that novel in 2010.

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  3. ekcarmel says:

    Awww – you two are awesome – thanks so much! I really, REALLY appreciate the pep talk.

    Texanne – I usually just comment on the forums instead of post, so I’ll work on that.

    Leah – happy to meet another Rachael convert! Some of her recipes are a little out there for me, but most are just right and her simple tips (from the tv show) for making the work easier are great. Love her!

    Sorry about the rest of your family. Our families have such an influence on us because we trust them and depend on them. It’s a harsh, harsh thing to realize they don’t have your back after all. But you’ve got your daughter and you are such a strong woman. I really admire your attitude.

    Learned behaviors are killer to change, but not impossible. Thanks for helping, both of you!

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  4. I’m not quite the Rachael Ray convert but my dogs are on her pet food if she made cat food I’d probably use that, too.
    Back to making time to write. I’m in the same situation. Over two years in and I’m still working on the first draft. Like you every excuse comes. In fact I’m about to do a post about perfect, boy did that one bite me in the rear just recently.
    Maybe instead of a thread on meeting writing goals we need one about each: safe, perfect, victim and feel to talk about how we defeat them on a daily basis.

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    • ekcarmel says:

      I forgot she had dog food – she’s really got an iron in a lot of different fires!

      Yeah, Perfect bites all right. I’ll stop over and take a look at your post when it’s done.

      I hadn’t thought about the 4 deadly mindsets as separate posts. Maybe as one. It’s not a bad idea.

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  5. amkuska says:

    There’s some easy fixes though. While you’re cooking, keep a notebook with you. I tend to do most of my writing while waiting for something to need turned over. Also, enlist your kids. I grew up helping my mother solve problems in her novels, and the perfect time to use them as a soundboard is when you’re driving them to one of their activities. ^^

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  6. ekcarmel says:

    I can’t concentrate on my writing when I’m cooking. Too afraid I’ll burn something. Though I do think about it when I’m scrubbing floors, taking a shower, etc.

    Now, enlisting my kids is something I hadn’t thought of. I tried bouncing ideas off my husband, but his ideas usually end up being more outrageous than I’m comfortable with, so I’ve kind of pulled back from that. My older daughter might be a possible candidate, but she doesn’t like the same type of fantasy that I’m writing. Though maybe….I’ll have to think on that some.

    You must have enjoyed helping your mom. I’m curious, what were the best and worst things about having a parent write?

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