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.