When I sat down at my computer about half an hour ago, my intention was to turn on some soft classical music, drink a mug of hot green tea, and attempt to finish some of the revisions that have been nagging at my brain all day long. It was a solid plan, it really was. However, the reality did not match my expectation. It went a little something like this:
Me: Okay, small offspring of mine. It's time to go to sleep! Mommy wants to work on her book, so it's time for you to go off into dreamland.
Offspring: Night, Mommy! Wuv you!
*I smile, close the door, and exhale deeply*
Two Minutes Later
Offspring 1: POOP!
Offspring 2: *giggles loudly* Poop! POOP!
Offspring 1: Poop, poop, poop! *even louder giggles*
Me: *goes back into bedroom* Ladies, that's enough. It is time to go to sleep! Night, Night!
Offspring: Night, mommy! Wuv you!
* I shut the door again and proceed back into my office with renewed purpose.*
Two Minutes Later
Offspring 1: POOP!
Offspring 2: POOP! POOP!
* A chorus of loud giggling*
I could go on, but I think you get the general idea. Currently, my children are still awake and while they are no longer yelling and giggling about poop, I am quite certain they are plotting my demise in other ways. It's terrifying, I tell you.... BUT it did give me a good idea for a blog post.
What to do when REAL LIFE interferes with WRITER LIFE.
When I first began my writing journey, I immediately latched on to some of the most widely dispensed advice for novice writers: That to be a good writer, you must write every single day. In theory, I guess it's sound advice. I mean, you can't be good at something if you don't practice, right? Well, for me, this particular piece of advice was like the kiss of death, and very nearly caused me to give up on my writing dream altogether. Why? Because it set up entirely unrealistic expectations--and those expectations led to frustrations, anger, and disappointments.
The last few years have been a whirlwind for me. Between getting married, starting a career, having babies, and moving several times, my life has been jam-packed with changes, adjustments, even more changes, and things to acclimate to. Oh, and let’s not forget to add in my ambition to be a published author one day!
As you can imagine, over the years, I have struggled to balance everything on my plate. For a while there, I had myself convinced that I wasn’t a good writer and never would be, simply because I couldn’t write every day like the advice suggested. I would beat myself up for not being able to balance the responsibilities of my everyday life with the duties of my writer life. I was angry and frustrated all of the time and I thought very seriously about giving up on my dream of being an author.
But, after years of torturing myself, I finally decided that the whole “write every day” advice, is complete and utter crap. You don’t have to write every day to be a good writer. To be a good writer, you just have to write. And never stop.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? There’s a little more to it though. You also have to be willing to cut yourself some slack with real life interferes with writer life. It’s going to happen, and you have to be prepared to deal with it when it does.
I began my current manuscript on June 17th, 2013--which means that it's been over two years now since I started and I am still not finished. I’m in the revision stage, and the end is in sight, but I still have quite a bit of work to go before I’m done. I will admit that there are times when this fact troubles me something fierce. I get angry at myself and feel awful—especially considering how many craptastic manuscripts came before it. Plus, it seems like every time a new author debuts, I read about how they finished their manuscript in three months or less! How is that even possible?! When I hear stuff like that, it's just makes me feel like an unequivocal failure.
But in those moments, I have to remind myself that I am not like any other writer out there. I can't compare myself to them and feel bad when my timeline doesn't match up with theirs. Every writer is different, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes me to finish—as long as I do finish. (And I will!)
The most important thing I have learned in the last two years, it that my life is more than just my novel. I'm a mommy to two beautiful (and ridiculously energetic little girls), I am wife to a man that I really enjoy spending time with, and I work full-time as a high school English teacher. I'm a busy woman. It’s okay, that I’m not finished with my novel yet. Someday it will be finished and hopefully people will want to read it.
I also tend to think that the craziness of my real life only adds to the creativity of my writing life. They are linked together in ways, I don’t even fully understand. I just know that who I am in real life inspires who I am as a writer. So why fight it?
It’s all about finding the balance—and being okay when your writing night goes to…well, as my offspring like to say, POOP!
It’s inevitable that real life will interfere. Just take a deep breath and tell yourself that it’s okay. It will happen.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, Offspring #1 has just informed me that she peed in her pants. (Potty training is SO much fun!)
Deep Sigh.....I guess real life wins tonight…
But don’t worry, writer life! Tomorrow is another day!
Until next time, Folks!