Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
Identifying and pursuing work we love is what brings purpose to our lives. I have been fortunate to recently have been given the opportunity to pursue my dream of writing a novel.
As a stay-at-home mom I sometimes struggle with whether or not I’m pulling my weight. I’m not bringing actually currency into our home, however, my work as a homemaker and mother does have value. Spending part of my day writing seems like a luxury, not a productive job. I feel as if I’m shirking my duties.
A few weeks ago, I talked to Courtney, who basically gave me permission to sit down and get to work. She got me thinking about how my writing will serve others. This is what I discovered: Books have helped me through many tough and lonely times. My work will give back to the community that has given me so much. Readers looking for an escape from reality will find it in the pages of my novels. It would be selfish not to release the stories I have inside.
So, I got to work, but it wasn’t long before I was swept up in the whirlpool of marketing and promoting. Many say if you are going to self-publish you need to be out there promoting your book before it’s even written. Afraid of missing the boat, I made a Twitter account and an author page on Facebook. I poured hours into a new blog. I was so distracted by networking that I wasn’t left with much time or energy for novel writing.
I found myself drained and wondering why. Then it hit me. I wasn’t doing my work. I was frittering my time away in idle chatter. I was coming down with a case of “big hat, no cattle.” Knowing that I set up a simplified plan for doing the work that I was created to do.
- Limit Twitter and Facebook use. I will only check them twice a day, unless I have free time in the evening and want to “play.”
- Cut back on blog reading. I have become very selective with which blogs I subscribe to, and of those I don’t always read every post. The title has to speak to me and offer something that will nourish my soul.
- Allow more novel reading time. Reading is a passion for me, and necessary for every writer. We must feed our creativity with the work of others. As I mentioned earlier, books are a source of comfort and inspiration for me.
- Keep my journal and a pen handy at all times. Then I can work anytime, anywhere. Pens have become like chapstick in every bag and throughout the house.
- I have put my blog on the back burner. While it will be a tool for communicating with my readers, I will only be posting when I have something meaningful to say. My writing energy must be directed at my book.
- Set a writing schedule. This has been a learning curve of finding a time that consistently works, but at least four days a week, I write at the same time. This system has primed my brain to know it has to come to the table ready to be creative. My only rule is I have to show up and write for twenty minutes. However, it is rare that I end up writing for only twenty minutes. My goal is to write six days a week, but sometimes with being a mom the times vary.
- Rest. Sometimes I’m exhausted physically and mentally. Taking a random day here and there where I don’t write at all allows me to recharge and strengthens my writing and prevents slumps.
Putting into practice these seven steps has narrowed my focus and reduced my anxiety about completing my first novel. It is easy to get distracted by all the things others say we should do, but at the end of the day we need to focus on the work we were called to do and let go of the rest.