It's the first Wednesday of October and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group (#IWSG) therapy session. From the mastermind behind the group, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the group's purpose is "To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"
"Nothing changes, if nothing changes." Earnie Larsen
After a rough few rough months of writing, I was in a rut that seemed to be getting deeper and deeper. I lamented about how crazy and helter-skelter life had become. Then I realized something. Life is always that way, I was just letting it get me down. I can't change Life, but I can change the way I react to the challenges.
Sounds mature, doesn't it?
I can't take the credit. Monday, I was listening to Sandi Tuttle's weekly BlogTalk radio show: When Life Happens. Sandi said many things I needed to hear, and please forgive my paraphrasing:
You Can't Stop Life, What Matters is How You Deal
Too often I try to control what cannot be controlled. I make list after list and plan. Then when things don't work out, I label myself a failure. Instead of seeing what I am accomplishing, I tend to ONLY notice the items not marked off the list. Then, as Sandi so eloquently put it, I "immobilize myself." As much as I might like predictable, it isn't reality.
Life is "Chaos, with Occasional Moments of Sanity"
For the past six months, I have been whining about how crazy life has become. Constantly asking, "When will it get back to normal?" I must face that this is normal. Sane moments are to be relished, not expected. And, GASP, sometimes I will not be able to get it all done... especially when I set expectations based on sanity.
Now to how I'll change that nothing...
As I mentioned Monday, I am going to embrace chaos as a way of life. Flexibility and focus are my new armor. I am paring down the commitments that do not benefit my ultimate goal, which is to finish my two WIPs. I love building my author platform and engaging the writing community, but it won't matter if I don't produce words.
Writing comes first.
It's so easy to say. But it's the first sticky note (please tell me I'm not the only one with different colors and sizes, stuck to places all over my house). Okay, the first sticky note after being a mom. Thankfully, kids have a way of forcing your focus in their general direction.
I love social media. Fascinated by it, actually. But it's distracting me from my purpose. Just as blogging daily was. I love the challenge and short-term gratification. No more. From now on, I'll consider this my reward for writing.
Just like with all new things, I'm sure I'll slip back into some old habits. Make the inevitable to-do list with way too many things on it. But, I'm hoping by putting my new focus out there, this wonderful writing community will keep me in check with gentle pushes back to writing.
Sure, I'll stumble. That's the point. I am human. No matter how hard I try, I am not a superwoman. Although I might just be one for Halloween.
What are your top two sticky notes? The ones you really need to focus on.
A Round of Words in 80 Days Update (ROW80)
For those who aren't familiar with ROW80, it's the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Our fearless leader, Kait Nolan, had a great pep talk to open this round: Part of what I want you to learn by participating in ROW80 is how to FAIL SMALL. Instead of saying “Well, I ate out at lunch, so I might as well cheat the rest of the day since I already blew it”, say “I won’t cheat two meals in a row.” Instead of saying “I’m going to write EVERY DAY”, maybe it makes more sense to say “I won’t miss two days of writing in a row.” You may very well have stretches where you write every day. But if you miss a day here or there, then you ought to have that much impetus to get back to it tomorrow. Learn to be okay with these tiny failures. In fact, don’t even think of them as failures. Think of them as Human Moments–those points in time that prove you aren’t a machine.
Writing: 1,546 words since Monday's post and spent time on outlining and character notes. I'm so happy with this, especially since it doesn't include today. But I am going to make a slight ammendment to my "write at least an hour Monday through Friday" rule. I'm taking Kate's (and Sandi's) advice.
My new Writing goal: I will write for a minimum of five hours during the week, and will not go two days without visiting my WIP.
Editing: One of the three chapters promised by Friday. Two to go.
Blogging: Posted Monday, today, and already wrote Friday's.
Reading: Need to finish a book to review by tomorrow. 200 pages to go. Might be up late on that one. I'm fulfilling commitments I made when I still thought I had a cape.
Social Media: After my writing yesterday, I finally jumped around to visit some IWSG from last month (sad!) and ROW80 Round 4 goal posts.