October 3, 2012

Changing the Nothing: #IWSG & ROW80 Update

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.

Thanks, Kate.

My Update

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.


Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you. The first 3/4 of this year has been downright insane. But I finally swallowed that reality pill that this is the new normal. So far you're going great. I know the book review has you a little pressured but just keep at it. You'll make it. Keep on ROWing :)

Green Monkey said...

Hello, I'm here from the Insecure Writers Group. I keep getting in my own way. Sounds like you're doing GREAT. I don't even have two sticky notes to post.

Unknown said...

I stopped by to read your IWSG post and I loved it! It's important to accept that you can't change things and must just adapt, and sometimes, just let things go. It sounds to me like you have your priorities in order now. Good luck! :-)

Elise Fallson said...

"Nothing changes, if nothing changes." I so needed to read this. Looks like you're getting lots done though, cape or not. (: Awesome! I'm lagging a bit but I keep trying.

Donna B. McNicol said...

I was so proud of what I did in August for Camp NaNoWriMo, then we started traveling again, seeing family & friends and getting repairs. Writing time has been slim. Now have 14 different doctor appts over the next 3 weeks, arrgh!! I will get this written!!!!!!

Shannon Lawrence said...

This whole post was great! I am one of those making lists and beating up on myself when I don't get there. I like the reasonable goal setting, for sure. #1 not family related is actually sitting down to edit for me. It's so much easier to get my butt in a chair when I'm writing, but editing is important.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell said...

I hear you on so many levels. I almost fell out of my chair at your thinking you're nothing when you don't do everything perfectly. First, it's not true, of course, but I wrote much the same thing in my sponsor post for this Round of ROW80. Great minds, eh? ;)
And yes, I have all colors of sticky notes everywhere in the house and at the day job. The mom sticky note isn't called into play as much since my kids are older, but it's usually very important when it does. The second sticky note is on my monitor at home and at work. It says "I am a writer."

Jo Michaels said...

My sticky notes are all book plot related LOL! My wall is seriously buggared up with the cute, colorful little things. I have a schedule I stick to. If I don't make it to one thing or the other within my alloted time, I don't worry about it. Writing comes first! :)

Great post. Sandi is awesome, huh?


Unknown said...

Kudos, Tia! You get it! And you are NOT the only one with sticky notes! I even have them stuck to my phone in my purse when I leave the house, so I don't get distracted. Seriously, if anyone ever needed the "Oh Look, a Chicken" tee shirt, it's me... I think you are doing a lot better than you think you are! And feeling good about what you DO get done somehow seems to give you energy to do more! Have you ever noticed that? Negative energy seems to drain you? So, buy more sticky notes, and recycle faithfully! AND, avoid absolutes. Because you absolutely never know when something will come up ... :-) Many hugz!

Ruth Nestvold said...

Good luck on finding your balance! I guess in a way I'm lucky that I'm not a huge fan of social media. I love how I've connected with so many cool people through it, but sometimes it still feels like a chore to me.

Hope you're feeling better about yourself and your writing soon!

Kim Switzer said...

Great progress, Tia! And I love what you said: "I can't change Life, but I can change the way I react to the challenges." Yes! I need that on a sticky note (oh yes, I love sticky notes, too, except when I discover that I just went to the grocery store while accidentally wearing one).

I love your sticky note question, too. My little household is always first, but after that my two most important priorities are writing and coaching. Thanks so much for asking this question and reminding me to actually state this out loud.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks everyone. I'm determined to start this round in a new, positive, and productive frame of mind! Wishing everyone success with what's left of 2012!

Julie Glover said...

Dang, I can't find my cape either! I was hoping you'd know where it went. LOL. Great progress for the first check-in, Tia. Keep kickin' it!

Georgina Morales said...

You are so right about life being crazy. It always is! It took me some time but, like you, I realized I just have to concentrate on doing as much as I can with the things as they are. Complaining and feeling bad about it helps nothing and only put you down. No more. Now I feel productive because I'm writing everyday, not 3000 words like I used to, but 300, 600... whatever. I'm moving forward and that's what matters. I'm back on my treadmill, yeah! If only to walk three days a week...

Let's congratulate us in our small victories and not think of what was of could've been.

Best of luck!

Tia Bach said...

Thanks so much, Gina. I'm learning to enjoy the small victories. ;-)