Have you ever taken the time to make a list of what you see as your role in the world and the associated obligations and time commitments that go with them? I did just that the other day and I have to say it was an interesting exercise. Interesting and enlightening at the same time.
Here’s what I came up with in the exact order I came up with it:
|Role||Daily Time Commitment|
|Monday – Friday Day Job||8-10 Hours (sometimes 12 hours)|
|PTSO Board Member||Less than 1 hour|
|Girl Scout Troop Leader||Less than 1 hour|
|Student||Approximately 2 hours|
The frustrating thing here is that I identify myself to other people as a writer, but when I look at what my subconscious thinks – writer is the last thing I see myself as. To be fair the day job supports my role as mother and wife – but the rest of my roles with much smaller time commitments managed to land higher on the list from my self proclaimed vocation.
AND … and I can’t even say what kind of time I’m committing to the act of writing.
I know that I spend a few hours a week on my blog – posts like this one, and perhaps an hour here or there (more often then not less than that) on my current work in progress, but that maybe averages to an hour a day. Which – if you know the law of averages – really means that I’m maybe writing and then maybe not writing.
BIG maybes. (You can’t trust averages no matter how far you can throw them).
If G.I. Joe taught me anything it’s the more I know should result in something being better, different, something. So now I know how I actually see myself.
How do you wrestle your subconscious into submission?
I’ve tried setting writing goals (Thoughts and Reflections for the New Year) and as we come to the close of quarter two for 2019 I’m feeling very far behind. I haven’t nailed a single one of them.
How to be held accountable? How to be the writer I state I am? How to make the follow through be the priority?
Maybe the real secret isn’t trying to force a square peg into a round hole, but instead to accept who we identify as, and identify the ways that align with the information gathered.
Like I said before, G.I. Joe taught me that it’s the more you know.
And now I know.
Now to decide what to do with that knowledge.
I stood in the kitchen this evening taking over the dinner meal preparation and giving my husband a break, and as I stood at the stove I listened to the sounds of the house. Laughter from the living room filled my ears and I breathed a sigh of satisfaction. Happiness in the fact that my family is here around me, that my husband is able to sit just a room away from me and laugh with our children.
Even more so, there is the joy that I have my partner who stands beside me in whatever endeavor I take, who holds my hand when our children take large leaps forward in life. This man who has the utmost faith in me, who loves our children as much as I do, and can’t wait to see the people that they will become. This person who shares this path with me that I celebrated today.
We were married father’s day weekend many many turns of the earth ago, and at the time being a father was the furthest thing from his mind – and just as far from my own. A year later we welcomed our first child into the world and have made some choices that perhaps if given the chance we might make differently today. You know, things like should he watch television, or how to react at the first big fall?
Regardless of what parental decisions we stumbled through I am grateful to know that he always stood by me – we always knew we had each other there to figure it all out together. Not everyone gets this rare gift, and I try not to take it for granted. I try to remember that every day is not a guarantee.
As a result I have been taking more Sundays off to focus on family. To focus on the present. To focus on what priorities need the most of my attention.
Always remember to make the real priorities the top of your list –
And Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers (and father figures) out there.
It’s mother’s day, and on this day I celebrate my children. The sweet ideas that they have, and for a little while I just stare at them and I can see the future. Or maybe many possible branches of the future.
In these moments of precognition I cry, and they ask me “Mommy, what’s wrong?”
Nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is exactly what it needs to be. In those moments I am reminded to take nothing for granted and to just bask in the joy that is youth, and immortality, and fearlessness. I can breathe in the lack of judgement, the open perspectives of children.
Today my son gave me a short story he wrote. The story was based on a memory he had from when he was little, and as he read this sweet fictionalized memory to me I was reminded of the real life moment that he was sharing. It was such a sweet gift, and it’s a journey he took me on with his imagination and it moved me so much I cried (again).
That’s something I am coming to terms with as I get older – the crying about things. I no longer worry that someone will think I am weak when I cry, because I know that in reality I am stronger because I am in touch with my emotions. I have two mothers to thank for that – one that made me ask the hard questions, how does that make you feel. And one that showed me through her own discovery that tears do not tear you down, they build you up.
I am glad that my foundation has given me something to build on top of. That this foundation from my own childhood has given me the ability to encourage my own children to reach for the stars, even if the stars that move them are the ones they draw on their own papers. It’s not my dreams they are reaching for, it’s theirs, and I am so very proud of them for taking those steps and little by little becoming the people they choose to be.
Mothers – celebrate your children, whatever form they come in. Today know that they are who they are in part because of the foundation you give them.
And then celebrate yourself, because they are who they are in part because of the foundation you give them.
Lightning strikes. In a flurry of activity you quickly jot down every piece of information that has come to mind. Afraid to let even one tiny bit get away.
Having given birth to an idea you slump back, drained. Your eyes are now a combination of dry and itchy and glazed. Reality seems hazy. You look at your creation and beam.
In that instant you know you would do it again.
Having had three children I very much can attest to the similarities of giving birth and coming up with an idea. The lightning strike is the day of birth. The many years of watching your baby grow are the months of shaping your story into something you will maybe someday publish.
The birth of the creative work – bringing a book into reality for someone else to read – no longer just hidden deep in the imagination.
The wonder held at that initial inception of idea is not the final payoff. Instead you look forward to the months (or in some cases, years) of writing after that inspiration has struck as the first few years of life. Your idea is rolling over for the first time, taking its first steps, speaking its first words. It’s the beginning of many sleepless nights as you run into the other room to check on it.
You have read all the books that are supposed to guide you on the journey.
And still, you worry about whether you are doing everything right.
None of the rules, guides, advice from others will matter as much as making sure you are following what feels right in your heart.
After all is said and done you have to care enough to be honest. With yourself. With your story. With your readers.
Then you have to let it go out and find its own way.
Or, to quote Semisonic –
“Closing time –
Time to open all of the doors and let you out into the world”
Many days I feel like a fraud. Not just as a writer, but as a mother. As a student. As an experienced professional in the day job I’ve held for many years.
There are many speakers who will tell you this happens to everyone. That you just have to fake it ’til you make it.
I fake it. Day in. Day out. I made it. I am successfully a mother. A student with decent grades. A (mostly) competent employee. A sometimes writer.
I have faked my way all the way to here.
So why then do I still feel like a fraud?
The key shouldn’t be faking it. It should be letting yourself be honest that you’re afraid you aren’t qualified. To be aware that even those you see as qualified have the same impostor syndrome.
“They’re all going to laugh at you” isn’t just a quote relegated to Stephen King’s telekinetic girl Carrie. On some level we all feel that way.
There is no magic moment where you suddenly feel better. Where you suddenly decide you are on the right path. That you can do it.
So a final quote to leave you with, from Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act 2 –
“If you want to be somebody –
If you want to go somewhere –
You better wake up and pay attention”
Be honest with yourself. Put in the effort. Put yourself out there. Rinse and Repeat.
And stop worrying about whether or not you should be where you are.
You are here.
And here is where you are.
In every aspect of my life I am a hardcore planner. Except in my writing. I just naturally gravitate away from the in depth detailed plotting that I would expect to just be part of who I am.
Every Sunday night I think to myself – next week I’m going to be more prepared for my blog posts. On Monday I make a note to write a couple blog posts ahead of time. By Tuesday I have gotten sidetracked by life and that idea has been slid to the back burner. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday go by and I still haven’t ironed out those pesky details.
Saturday morning the thought flits through my mind and I think, “oh yeah, I’ll do that tonight, be super prepared for tomorrow.” Then we get to Sunday night, and it’s the same tired routine – “Oh Heather, you really have to plan better.” Because I often have these conversations out loud. With myself.
I should explain, I plan everything. Everything. From what day to buy toilet paper, to what to have for dinner. The calendar by the kitchen is covered with every activity, my office knows easily six months in advance what my vacation plans are. Yet, each year since I have had children I find that I plan less and less, leaving more of the daily routine to chance.
There is a freedom to this way of life. There is a bit of anxiety in it too.
I am lucky I don’t operate on deadlines, but I keep thinking if I actually get to a place where writing becomes the primary focus I need to be better about setting and meeting deadlines. Well, either that or accept that it might be harder to get paid.
This time next week I will be agonizing over the blog post. I am also starting classes again next Monday. One more thing to plan – or procrastinate about depending on the day. With all of that in mind I need to start creating a schedule and at least some semblance of a plan that I force myself to stick to – or accept that my writing is not as important as I like to think it is.
How do you deal with setting deadlines, and planning your writing or creative goals? I’d love to hear any tips that have helped you overcome similar struggles. Feel free to let me know either in the comments or contact me directly through the contact page or via email: email@example.com
Sometimes a confidence boost comes in the strangest forms – but if you think about it, really think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Today my daughter realized I have a YouTube channel. It’s been one year since my one and only video was posted (part of a class assignment at the time) and I had a popup to show me the “memory” from when I’d shared the link with my social media. Seeing this my daughter (who is enamored with YouTubers) was thrilled and asked if I’d let her be a guest on my show.
I haven’t considered making another video, not really. It was a lot of work, and I was a basket case of nervous energy the whole time we were making it. Yet, somehow, her excitement has me considering dusting off the channel, drawing up a new story board, and saying “Lights, Camera, Action!” one more time.
I shouldn’t be so surprised that my offspring could say things that would make me feel inspired to do something creative. The sad truth? It’s more that I needed the confidence boost more than I realized, because I wasn’t really sure that I believed I had it in me. I’ve been pulling away from all of my projects, shoving them all into the proverbial brain vault, and her words I think saved them – because she was so excited I was making something it reminded me that it’s not just me these projects are important to.
Whether you have little ones who look up to your for following your dreams, or have a charming scamp of a cat that likes to drive you crazy by walking across your keyboard, a pup that is constantly underfoot while trying to put the finish touches on a painting, or even a neighbor that thinks it’s amazing the efforts you constantly put in – know that it’s important to realize that there is someone out there that believes in you (even when you have forgotten).
My pity party has me woefully behind on deadlines, so this week I leave you with the thought – who is your champion shouting from the wings? I know my family is there for me, but also … all of you out there that read these words every week – you help me realize it too. Feel free to let me know where your support network comes from, either in the comments or contact me directly through the contact page or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring break, a crazy stomach bug, and general forgetfulness have happened over the last couple of weeks putting me behind on happenings here. In addition, it’s almost time for the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition deadline and I’m behind on that as well. The long and short of the theme this week? To quote the white rabbit – I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!
There is a terrible sense of being overwhelmed when you miss a deadline, or don’t stay on top of the goals you set. On the other hand I find it also fuels a fire deep inside me and drives me forward in a crazy berserker frenzy.
I started a short story quite a while back and have had it sitting on the back burner, not really sure how to end it. It’s been sitting there since prior to my Coppercroft story from back in September, waiting for me to get around to applying some kind of closure for the protagonist. The good news is that even though I haven’t been writing – not here, not on my own creative efforts, not even letter writing, or social media – I have been letting the idea percolate in the back of my brain and I have figured out where the rest of the story is going.
Now the hard part – write it down. Then the editing.
Okay, not so hard, but I am finding that I keep adding extra things to my plate. Things I thought I could balance with ease. And then the unexpected comes along to remind me how very, very wrong I am. And – in my own way, even through all the planning and goal setting and awareness of lists and steps, and you get the idea – I am a natural procrastinator. I will put things off as long as possible to see what else I can squeeze in during the meantime. The biggest issue? I haven’t been burned by this mentality to date. Although, if I’m being honest, it hasn’t exactly paid off either.
I sign off this week with the rest of a short story to write, and a gazillion other things I’ve got looming on the calendar for the day to day family and work life, I’ll have to share how well that goes next week. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your own battles with missing deadlines and how you deal with the stress of procrastination. Feel free to let me know, either in the comments or contact me directly through the contact page or via email: email@example.com