Holding myself accountable

15 Mar

For decades, sadly, I’ve said I’m going to write a book. I’ve got starts and spurts of things all over the place – pages of scenes, half-written things, one story I did complete…and realized it was too much of a happy cheesy tidy ending for me to put out into the world. 

All good exercises in writing.  But no finished products. 

Meanwhile, I’ve had all these kids.  I spent my 20’s being pregnant, giving birth, chasing toddlers.  I then spent my 30’s dealing with special needs, sitting at therapies, at IEP’s, at doctor’s offices – while sitting at soccer practices and dance rehearsals and all the other normal kid stuff.  I’ve spent the past year or so getting ready to move, moving, settling in, trying to find schools, entertaining kids who weren’t in any school, summer break…

Finally, for the first time in 15 and a half years – I had all four children in school and oodles of time to do what I wanted to do.

And yet – no finished product.

I’ve learned a lot through the years – what I like to write, what I want to write, how to keep pushing through and edit later, how it’s okay to not do things in chronological order.  I’ve lost my need for instant perfection. I can put down a thousand words a day on a good day, five hundred on a bad day.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but is actually pretty dang good.

And I know I can write.  It’s one of the few things I’ve always been secure about in myself. I don’t know if I can sing as well as I think I sound in the car.  I have cooking failures every so often.  I’m certain 50% of the time that I’m screwing up my kids.  But I know I’m a good writer.

So then, what’s been my problem?

I realized that I’ve made the one crucial mistake wannabe writers do – they don’t make writing their job.  I haven’t made it my job – it’s always been something I fit in where I could.  I don’t set aside a portion of my day for writing.  I don’t say “No, I can’t do that right now, I have to write.”

It’s time to make it my job.  I may have to actually leave the house some days and sit at the local coffee shop, because even with all the kids gone all day, I feel like when I’m at home, I should be doing something.  All that cleaning and decluttering and laundry and chasing after the puppy.  At this very moment, I feel like I should be organizing our bedroom, going through the clothes to get rid of some stuff, or at least taking the dog for a walk.  And the washer just stopped, so I should take care of that.

See?  Not giving the writing that priority status of Real Job.

So, my goal for this month is to make my writing a job.  Something I do every day, and something that is worthy of the time I dedicate to it.   I’m making game plans for the summer, when kids are home (aka, paying my teens to actually mind Maura) and looking into hiring a cleaning lady (I can actually hear my mother-in-law cheering over this one – she has said for years that I’m too busy and should have someone to clean for me so I don’t have to).  I may even – *gasp* – write myself up a schedule and try to stick to it. 

I am so not a schedule girl.  But maybe it’s time to try it out.  Before now, I always had kids schedules to run my life – nap times and pick up times and all – but now, I have my time.  I should make the most of it.  Because the one thing I do know is that once Maura gets home, 3 pm to 9 pm is kid time.  I still have to harass older kids about homework and chores.  I still have to get kids to their places.  I still have to feed them dinner every. single. night.  I will not compromise kid time unless absolutely necessary.  But I need to work on my time and how I arrange it.

It’s time to make writing my job.

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13 Responses to “Holding myself accountable”

  1. The Bright Side of Life March 15, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Love it, and you are going to be great! I hope you are going to share your *writing* :)

  2. DustandWanderlust March 15, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    I couldnt agree more. I’ll do the same, especially because summer gets crazy and if im not in the habit, I’ll never start then!

  3. SmallSteps March 15, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    I am enjoying your posts, and feel like a kindred spirit in some ways. It’s almost as if you were reading my mind in this one – spooky!! I wish you well in your endeavors to make ‘writing your job’. You have a great style, and a great start with your blog.

  4. Alyssa March 15, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Yay! I hope you share it with us so we can cheer you on :)

  5. Audrey March 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Go for it, Lady! You’re so right about making it a “job”. I’m trying to implement something similar with my blog and a cookbook that I’m working on. Keep us posted on how it goes!

  6. Darcy Pennington Arnold March 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Can’t wait to ‘buy’ the finished product! I’ve been following your blog ever since you began writing about Maura. I have a granddaughter with Down Syndrome and you have given me so much hope and the ability to laugh at the things she says/does without feeling guilty!

    I print your blog nearly daily and take it into work to share with the other gals at the dental office because you make me laugh and look forward to each new entry.

    Set aside the time….you won’t regret it (and neither will our fans)! If need be, we’ll keep you accountable to yourself. Thanks for making my day!

    • phoebz4 March 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      Thank you! Your comments just made mine!

  7. Karen March 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    I like your priorities. Writing when it’s your time and family when it’s their time! You’re going to prove that you can do it all. Kudos to you. And I wish you the best.

    And I like your confidence with your writing. That’s half the battle…believing in yourself.
    Karen

  8. ntouch2cher March 16, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    You are an amazing writer. You will find a way to set fixed times. If you don’t like schedules, you may consider flex time. Some days I do web counselling from home and try to average 10 to 16 hours a week. So whether I do 2 hours a day or 2 days of ambitious writing…I am happy with the end result. Maybe giving yourself a goal of xxx amount of words or xxxx amount of hours per week….Try to not put it off…I have put off writing too long…I am 60 now…housework is never completely done…just do it. I always look forward reading your blogs:)

  9. Jessica March 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Great idea!! You might want to act on your own idea of leaving the house initially, going to a coffee shop, library or somewhere just to write. Never underestimate what an unfamiliar environment can have for work ethic. Plus in a coffee shop you can’t really look at all you can be doing with household things etc., just write. And keep hammering even when your inner critic is telling you it’s a waste of time. Best of luck :)

  10. Michelle Longo March 17, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Good for you for going for it!!

  11. Letitia Robbins March 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    I love this! Reminds me of me! Of course my husband and I don’t have kids yet, but I have been working on a book, or could turn into a serious, for years now and I feel like I’m getting no where! I keep changing things! I keep making the mistake of editing too often, so my progress is slow goings…
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Thanks :)

  12. carolcovin April 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    I just found your blog. I’m so happy to read that you are giving yourself time to write. I don’t know any other way to do it than to have an uninterrupted time of day.

    I used to write in the living room because it was the cleanest room in the house so I didn’t feel I had to jump up and do something. There are so many excuses not to write, it takes dedication to decide to write. And, at that, you can only write if you cannot not write, which your blog fully demonstrates you already qualify for.

    And, the block of time gives you a chance not just to find your voice, which you’ve already been honing, but your process. I found out I had to write each of my books three times. At the 1/3 point, and then again at the 2/3 point, i completely changed how I wanted it to be. The first two times this happened, I went back and rewrote the first 1/3 or 2/3 to make it match. After that, I realized, this is my process. Just keep writing until it’s done. You can always go back, but the creativity to get it all down once is fragile and can be ruined by making it a chore. It needs your dedicated time and focus to make it happen.

    I love reading good writers. I look forward to your creation.

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