More Than a Job

Remember the overused saying, “You need a taste of your own medicine.”?  Good.  I’m taking a dose of that right now.  A couple of things have happened this summer.

1.  My writing schedule and approach to my work was blown to bits when my seven-year-old got out of school for the summer.  I could not for the life of me find a way to work and have her here.  It was incredibly frustrating as I wrestled with mommy guilt and my need to create.  I ended up filled with anxiety and irritation.  Not a good combination in any situation.

2.  Last weekend Courtney Carver at Be More with Less published a post I wrote in April about my simplified approach to working as a writer.  Reading my words from months ago when I was on fire for my new career and ready to do what it took to get the work done was a huge slap in the face.  I had pretty much forgotten about that post.  When I wrote it school was in full swing and I had the perfect set-up to write and care for our house during the day and be ready to be mom when the last bell rang at three o’clock.

A couple of weeks ago my anxiety built until it hit the full-on meltdown stage.  I have spent the last two weeks putting the pieces back together and healing.  A large part of that healing has been stepping away from work related writing and simply spending time writing in my journal.  With each turn of the page, I have been feeling myself getting stronger and my fire for the craft stirring.  I remembered how when things were right I never skipped warming up before diving into my work in progress (WIP).  No less than twenty minutes was spent in my notebook.  If for some reason I only had thirty minutes that day, it went to the notebook.  It was that important.

I developed this habit as I was reading Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.  I can safely stay this book is my writing Bible.  It taught me the importance of writing being more than a job.  It’s a part of my life.  It helps me heal when I’m hurting.  It helps me discover when I need to figure things out.   It’s a conduit for my joy when everything is right in my little world.  Writers must write, and it is important that we give ourselves permission and time to create outside of work mode.

One of my favorite movies is Toy Story 2.  I love the scene where Geri, the Toy Repairman, slowly and painstakingly restores Woody to mint condition.  Just before he begins his work, Al, the greedy toy store owner, hops from foot to foot and asks how long the process will take.  Geri calmly replies, “You can’t rush art.”

In my frenzied rush to get something done this summer I dove right into my WIP’s without taking the time to warm up and was disappointed over and over with my results.  Thin characters and plots.  Lame ideas.  I couldn’t feel my writing.  Just like many basketball players have a little ritual they perform before a free throw, most writers have a ritual they perform when they sit down to write.

My work matters to me, and it matters to others.  I owe it to myself and my readers to do my best work every single time I sit down.  I am recommitting myself to warming up before every work session, and slowing down to make my writing great.  Check out my post on Be More With Less to find out the other steps I will be taking to fit my work into my life both when my daughter is home and at school.  Also, stay tuned for my writing space reveal.  I have been challenged by some people who love me very much to create a home office so I have a real place to retreat to.  Creativity does not about when faced with a stack of dirty dishes.

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6 thoughts on “More Than a Job

  1. I so understand. My two seven-year-olds go to school tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to time that’s uninterrupted. I’m sorry you had such a difficult time this summer! I think sometimes, it’s the worst of both worlds to work at home when you have a child around because they think you’re available to them and you really can’t be all the time. Being interrupted is frustrating when you’re doing dishes, but it’s maddening when you’re writing. 😉

  2. Hi Kayla, I take a writing sabbatical through the summer holidays. Last year I had had enough of the guilt. I was parenting and writing to a standard lower than I was happy with. Instead, I put self care as my priority (exercises, meditation, healthy eating, walking, gardening, reading, journalling, swimming). I included the children in most of these activities or snatched a few minutes to do something whilst they were occupied playing. It has been even more successful this year and I’m much happier.

    The break from writing allows time for new ideas to flourish and I shape and adjust them in my mind. I untangle problems in the story I hadn’t noticed before and if there’s editing to do, I’m more aware of the errors having had a break from it. I am not actually writing, though I am still creating. It is a slower though no less important aspect of the process. There are moments of longing, so I make brief notes. The time out in nature, music I listen to, books I read, time meditating and places we explore nourish my imagination and I return to writing inspired.

    Perhaps try something similar for a week or two and see how you feel? All the best with creating your writing space! 🙂

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I do sometimes take weekends off, and you are right the space does clear the cobwebs and sort things out. When Monday comes, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get writing!

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