Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get off your tuckus!

This is my little exhortation to myself: get off your tuckus and just write, darn it! I've been wanting to do this for years, and I know I'm not the only person who dreams of living the writing life instead of breaking my heart and head against the padded walls that make up my work cube.

So this post (and this blog!) is just as much for me as it is for you. My plan is to drag myself kicking and screaming to my dream, and my hope is that I'll take along some of you who have also dreamed of this life for too long.

Five ways to get moving and start your writing career.

Decide to be a writer. This one is important for me: so much time was spent thinking and believing that I had to take the practical road, support my family, pay my bills. And while all that is still true, I let it get in the way of my dream for far too long. I allowed my immediate responsibilities to convince me that I didn't have time to write, that I was too busy, that writing was too impractical, that it was too unlikely that I'd ever get published. I allowed all this negative self-talk to convince me to not even try. Instead, I took several jobs that were peripherally related to writing (like my current job working for The Bully) because that's what you're supposed to do when you're responsible.

And what's the result?

I am 36, happily married, mom to 1 teen boy and expecting 1 baby in a couple months. I am working a job that pays me decently but that is killing my spirit, leaving me angry and feeling emotionally abused by The Bully and his Henchmen.

Life is too short for this garbage.

For me, to make up my mind to be a writer is to allow myself the happiness that I - and every one of you who dream of writing - deserve. I am deciding to be a writer. I am deciding to take those steps and to not let life get in the way anymore.

As John Lennon says, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." Time to jump in to life!

Claim your time. It's important to balance that precious commodity of time that we all need to get everything done. In my case, because I don't want to lose that all-important income and set this family back any further, it's going to take doling out my time very carefully. I'll give my required 40 hours at work, I'll protect my writing time daily (this ought to be interesting after the baby's born!), I'll guard my family time well, and I'll carve out my niche so I can relax and not worry, if only for 30 minutes in the evening.

That's a tall order. When I was in my 20s, when my oldest was born, I remember I felt guilty about wanting - nay, needing - the time to pursue my own interests and activities. I always placed myself last on the list because I felt I was robbing my son of his mother. Now, at 36, I think I'll be a little calmer about allowing myself to be with myself so I can work on building the life I've always dreamed of. It doesn't make me a worse mother; in fact, I think it will improve things for all of us - me, hubby, Big Boy, and Baby Boy when he arrives. If there's one thing I've learned in my first go-round at motherhood, my own well-being is important, too, and taking care of myself and nurturing my dreams is not stealing my sons' mother from them. It's actually giving them a stronger, healthier, happier mother.

Never allow procrastination to steal your productivity. I didn't want to get online this evening, I didn't even want to open this blog. I really just wanted to sit on the couch, to read and doze. But I had promised myself to live the life I want so I can move myself into a happier state. So, I am not allowing my tendency to procrastinate to steal my positive energies - now or ever. This process is important, and I am going to honor its importance by giving it the attention and energy it deserves.

Network. This is one that will be hard for me! I hear a lot about social networking, viral marketing, guerilla marketing. I hear that writers need to be able to sell themselves.

Well, I may have a marketing background, but I'm also pretty shy. I'd much rather extol someone else's virtues than toot my own horn. So, learning to network and getting myself out of my comfort zone will be important to this writer's success. I'll keep you posted on this one!

Find your inspiration. There's a wonderful book called The Artist's Way, written by Julia Cameron and Mark Brown. In it, they talk about "filling the well," which is a way of saying nurture your creative soul. We cannot maintain creativity if we only ever produce, if we never take the time to nurture that spark that keeps our ideas and energy flowing. So it's important to find your inspiration, and to indulge that inspiration so you don't completely drain yourself and your creativity. Indulging that inspiration is like feeding the muse so it can sustain itself and you.

Easy to say, hard to do. One thing that I know helps me is journaling - and this blog falls into that category. But I am also looking for other activities that will feed my inspiration - my muse - so I don't lose the momentum I so recently discovered. Once Baby Boy is born and I recover, I'll likely start running and practicing martial arts again. These are total body activities that take me out of my head for a while (and as a writer, I live in my head quite a bit!), and that always seem to help me "fill my well."

So, join me on this journey. Let's become writers together!