Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Scattered Focus: IWSG March 2020

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  • keep my unpublished work on submission 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!


  1. I gave up (temporarily) on some things and concentrate on only a few. The writing had to come first. Also, for me, I have two novels out there and four in revision. Six books will take the same amount of marketing that two would, so I'd rather wait and invest the time when I have more product...

  2. That is a lot. The one thing you could do is to drop something. Let it go. I've had to do this. Or do less of a few. Like post on Instagram every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, instead of every day. And post 2-3 times a month on your blog, instead of weekly. I now blog less to make time for other things.

  3. Try to prioritize what needs to be done. Writing first. Marketing and networking second. Without the product you have nothing to sell. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  4. Your list is a lot to do with a family and job. Maybe reduce your list a bit and recognize that at this point of your life that may be all you can do. At some point in life, you will be able to retire and have a lot more time. And family time is so important. I am so grateful for my time with my family and had a high-stress attorney for years. I don't regret not doing everything on my writer list during that phase of life.

  5. You know, if someone read your post out loud (to you) I think you'd be right proud of yourself - and you should be, you absolutely rock! Just leave yourself some breathing room ;-)

  6. I've been severely lacking in focus these days, so I just have to prioritize by what's most important to me at the moment (which may change from day to day, if not hour to hour). For better or worse, social media is always at the bottom of that list. :)

  7. Wow, that's a lot to balance. I think it's good that you're able to say no and prioritize what really needs to get done.

  8. I try to balance work, family, and writing by focusing on one thing at a time. When work is done, I don't bring it home with me. Have too much to do when I get home, cooking dinner and getting the kids to bed. When that part of the evening is done, I use the 2-3 hours after the kids are put to bed, kitchen set to rights and breakfast and lunch prepped for the next day for mommy/writing time. And the time spent is to do what I gotta do. Whether to just relax or write, write a new blog post or answer blog comments, writing a new story idea or rewriting/editing a current WIP, etc.