January 11, 2012

Are You Up For This Journey?

Some of you out there are just starting out on your journey to be a writer and some of you have been on this road for a long, long time. I am a relative newbie. I've been writing for only two and a half years now. Total. I journaled for fun before that from time to time (like once or twice a year) but that's it. The only writerly thing I've always done since I was able, was to read. A lot. So obviously once I realized that writing was something that I wanted to do, I knew I had a lot to learn. The only problem was finding the time. I was a stay at home mom with a two and a half year old at home full time and a six and a half year old in school. Since neither of my children are what you'd call sleepers and are extremely active, I had precious little time to research writing or to simply write. In fact I think most of the moms out there can agree, to find any time to do anything for yourself is always a battle. The rest of the family always gets their needs met, but yours are almost always last on the list and the most easily discarded when things go wonky. So what's a girl to do? Here's what I did/am doing.

1. Give up some sleep--I don't mean zombify yourself, just stay up a little later or get up a little earlier than everyone else as often as you can and write.

2. Read/write in little sips-I learned to write or read whenever and wherever I could-bringing pen and pencil with me to the park, the back yard, the mall for those precious minutes spent at the playland.

3. Brainstorm story ideas/character development/plot development everywhere-I mean the shower, the car, while changing diapers (no higher thought is needed for most child care/house care related tasks, so plot away) and while the kids are watching television.

4. Let as many other things go as you can-clean the house only once a week, let laundry sit an extra day, ignore a little mess because you can't keep every ball in the air all the time. I gave up on being super mom a long time ago.

5. Make yourself join a writer's group-preferably one with deadlines for work or little assignments you have to do. This could be one you do in person or online, either way just make sure that it meets regularly and that the members tend to keep each other accountable. This will help you to keep writing and to realize that you aren't alone in your desire to be a writer.

6. Get help-my husband had to step up a bit and take over with the kids sometimes. Sometimes I asked my mother in law to keep them for a few hours just so I could write uninterrupted. And once a year my husband takes the kids on a Daddy/daughter weekend so that they can bond and I can have an entire two days to get some real work done. It's been good for all of us.

No matter how you do it, the important thing is that you DO do it. You'll know if it's for you because you will naturally fight to fit it in. I've always liked to draw, but I will never be a professional artist. I know this because naturally, I don't seek it out regularly enough. I will let months or even years go by in between times when I sit to sketch. I won't fight to make it happen. I will always enjoy it and will probably always do it from time to time, but it isn't my life's passion, not like writing. Once I discovered how much I wanted/needed to write, there was no going back. I get irritable and crazy when I can't get pen to paper. I will miss out on other things to make sure I do it and I find myself doing something writing related whenever I have a free minute. Not because I should write, but because I need to write. You know you are a writer when the rejection you face bothers you, but doesn't stop you. You know when you put your butt in the chair everyday without prompting and write, even if the kids are sick, even if the house is a mess, even if you yourself are sick. You just need to do it.

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