Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.
If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.
The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence! I hope you'll check out their blogs as well as some of the others on this blog hop after you see what I have to say.
In some ways, I'm a very disciplined writer. I write every day and have for more than six years now. But as my career has progressed, I feel overwhelmed by commitments and by "shoulds" sometimes to the point that my energy feels completely scattered, so even when I am being very productive, I feel like I'm not, which makes it hard to keep heart.
Currently, I try to:
- post on instagram daily
- blog once a week
- participate in some kind of promotional activity for my published work once a month
- move forward in the WIP novel every week
- take advantage of short story opportunities (invitations, interesting open calls) as they arise
- keep my unpublished work on submission
- meet deadlines for work I've got in process (edits, proofreads, submission dates, etc.)
- keep up with communications (emails, responses to social media)
- send a newsletter once a month to my subscribers
- journal or do day pages often enough to let new ideas develop on the back burner
- track the business end of things to make sure my contracts are followed and royalties are paid
- play (write things that I don't have solid goals for, but am writing because I want to and enjoy it)
That's a lot to balance. Especially when you consider that I do this alongside a day job (teaching middle school Spanish) and house and family responsibilities. I can generally get 1-2 hours for writing life on a school day and 4-5 on a school holiday. Though I think it would still be a lot to balance if I were a full time writer without other jobs.
When I talk to other writers about this, I get a lot of sympathetic nods, but not many solutions offered. I know I'm not alone in the struggle to pursue my dreams while still keeping a roof over my head, a car to drive, groceries, and insurance for my family.
Saying no is scary--refusing opportunities can mean that you don't get a repeat offer or that you miss out on something that might really have served you well. But all the same, I'm learning to use that word more often, to really analyze each blip across my radar and consider whether it's helping or just keeping me from focusing "where it matters."
I guess that's the real rub: figuring out "where it matters."
How about all you other creatives out there? How do you choose where to focus your energy? What balls are you juggling to keep your creative life moving in the direction you want? How do you keep heart when it gets overwhelming? Inquiring minds want to know! Tell me in the comments!