self-care · writing

Knowing When To Take A Break

When I sit down to draft my Monthly Goals post, I rarely know what I’m going to write. Drafting the blog post helps me to consider what I want to focus on and make decisions about what priorities to set. One of the greatest gifts I’ve gotten from the blogging life is this space where I can explore my goals and priorities in the way that’s most helpful to me: writing it out on a blank page.

It was mid-August when I sat down to write out my goals for September, and the first thing I considered was my writing. That, all by itself, is an achievement. For the past year, I have truly made writing a priority. I no longer need to remind myself that I want to post on the blog twice weekly; the habit is firmly ingrained. (Pay no attention to my accidental beach vacation hiatus! That was a fluke.)

What I realized when I sat down to write my September goals is: I need to take a break from writing the novel.

I haven’t written nearly as much as I’d hoped to this summer, and that is okay. I am making plans to incorporate novel writing time into my regular routine once the school year starts. But right now, as I transition from staying at home with the boys to working full-time once again – the thing I am most concerned about is maintaining everyday self-care, establishing good routines, and developing a healthy rhythm for the new year. I want to meditate. I want to plan ahead regarding snacks and meals so that I don’t end up eating Commute Candy whenever I’m stressed out. I want to manage my to-do list so that I don’t have low-level anxiety that’s with me subconsciously all day every day.

None of that has anything to do with writing.

It’s about exercise, diet, meditation, and living in a way that is unhurried and intentional. And I don’t feel I can do that while also feeling the pressure to cram in writing time every morning, evening, and nap time.

I feel really good about this decision. It can be so hard to know when we need to step back from a project or activity. When we take a break, it can feel like we’re quitting or being lazy. BUT WE’RE NOT. Especially when we do it with intention. I get to choose what my number one priority is, every minute of every day.

So I’ll take a break, and I’ll revisit the novel in October or even November. (I hear November is a great month to write a novel!) Stay tuned.

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writing

Butt In Chair

I did it!

This week, for the first time since summer started, I used my two kid-free days to work on my novel! WOO HOO KERRIANN!

Whew. It feels good to celebrate! Especially since it was surprisingly hard to actually sit down and get some writing done. It should not have been surprising; I’ve listened to many writers talk about how hard it is to get the work done, even when you have a great passion for writing. There are so many distractions, especially when you’re writing from the living room of your untidy house.

I’d been growing increasingly nervous that I wasn’t going to get any writing at all done this summer. With vacations and day trips and sick kids, it just wasn’t happening. I had already drafted a blog post with the title It’s Okay If My Novel Doesn’t Get Done This Summer. 

But then this week, I got my butt in the chair (a la the #AmWriting podcast with Jess and KJ) and I wrote 8,000 words in two days. Now, this could have been even better, for sure. I am hoping that my ability to write more and longer and better will grow as I stick to my writing routine.

BUT – I did it!

One of my goals is to work on the novel every single day, even if it’s just for five minutes. If I don’t work on it every day, then every time I sit down to write, I have to pull myself back into the story. If I work on it every day, it’s easier for me to dive back in when I actually have a good chunk of time to work on it.

I don’t think the entire novel will get drafted this summer, but I am eight thousand words closer to my goal and I’m relieved.

Onward!

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balance · writing

What Gets In The Way

We can’t solve the problem until we figure out what gets in the way, right?

So, the problem is: I’m not getting as much fiction writing done as I’d like to this summer.

Here’s a list of what’s getting in the way:

  1. Ugh, amazing vacations to the beach! Quality time with family and beautiful sunny days swimming and splashing. SO INCONVENIENT.
  2. The Women’s World Cup. How dare these incredible women play such a fantastic tournament when I’m trying to write? Why didn’t they just get eliminated in the Round of 16 so I wouldn’t lose valuable writing hours cheering them on? RIDICULOUS.
  3. Lots of reading about parenting. I’ve been reading Peaceful Parent Happy Kids to try to be more patient, playful, and peaceful with Edgar, and I’ve been reading The Sleep Easy Solution to try to help with Jonas’s sleep. How am I supposed to grow as a parent AND grow as a writer simultaneously? It’s clearly never been done before. IMPOSSIBLE.
  4. Adorable children with summer birthdays, requiring a moderate amount of housecleaning, party prep, balloon buying, and gift wrapping. Those three-year-olds and their SMILES and JOY.
  5. Wonderful friends who want to hang out and do fun things together. Yes, these are great times and good memories, but is there an increase in my daily word count when I hang out with friends? NO THERE IS NOT.

The bottom line is that I am having a fantastic summer with the boys, Tamara, extended family, and friends. My writing is sometimes on the shelf, but I’ll take it off as soon as I can. I’m typing this from my local Starbucks, where I’ve been for several hours already, so that the dirty dishes in my sink aren’t staring at me as I try to get some writing accomplished. In a few hours, I’ll take a break from writing to read The Sleep Easy Solution, because it’s okay for me to make space in my day for my writing, reading about parenting, and all the other things.

WE GOT THIS.

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goals · presence · writing

July 2019: Monthly Goals

The summer is off to an incredible start. It’s been joyful, fun, and refreshing.

I am definitely stressed about achieving my writing goals. We spent the last week of June at the beach, and I only wrote one day while we were away. I did a lot of other great things – I read the new Elizabeth Gilbert book, I spent time with family, I exercised a lot. But I did not write, and I want to make sure that I am making my writing a priority.

I was strategic about my first week of July. I’m spending two days at the beach with my sister’s family, but I’ll be back in time for my boys to have two days at day care so that I can get a significant amount of writing accomplished. I hope! I am extremely nervous. I’m hopeful that I can muster up the self-discipline and the creative juices to get things done.

My goals for July 2019 are about two things: getting my writing done and being present with my kids. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Write a little or think about the novel a little EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes!
  2. BE PRESENT. Play with your boys and give them your focus. To do that, you need to make sure that you’re being intentional with your time. That means giving yourself a little time to get grounded in the morning, enjoying your “evening adulting hour,” and being intentional about the times when they do NOT get your full attention. (“Mommy has to do the dishes now. Would you like to play in your room while I do that?”)

I’m nervous, for sure. But, as I said, this summer has been off to a great start, so I have reason to feel optimistic. Let’s do this!

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writing

Nerves

On my first official day of summer break, I found myself sitting on the floor of my living room, with a folder full of notes on my potential novel, my laptop, a pen, and a fistful of looseleaf paper.

It was TIME. The boys were at day care. After a busy school year and several months of no fiction writing at all, I now had time to sit down and focus on drafting my first novel.

And then – the nerves hit.

I was excited, and energized, and optimistic. But also so, so nervous! When you have actually carved out the time and the space in your life so that there is room for pursuing your goal – THAT IS TERRIFYING.

Because what if I try to write my novel, and I can’t do it? Or what if I write it, and it totally sucks?

OH BOY.

I actually have told a fair amount of people that I’m going to be using my solo hours this summer to write. Which I’m glad about – it’s given me some accountability. If any of these people happen to ask me how the writing is going, I want to be able to report something other than “I’m too distracted by laundry, dishes, and texting to focus on my writing.”

I feel motivated, too, to write the adoption-themed novel I’ve been daydreaming about. Especially since I read a novel recently that was so adoption-negative that it made me want to cry!

I know that I can’t let nerves get in the way of doing my best work. I just have to keep my head in the game and my butt in the chair, as they say on the #AmWriting podcast. Only in my case, my butt will be on the floor, apparently. On the floor, surrounded by notes and scribbled pages, my flip-flops kicked off and my laptop front and center, a cup of coffee close by.

LET’S DO THIS!

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self-care · writing

Write What You Need To Read

When I write blog posts, I write what I need to read.

This is even more true when I’m as tired and time-strapped as I am lately. The more tired I am, the more personal and frank my writing is. I basically sit down on the couch, plop my laptop onto my knees, and write about what I need to read. That’s what it’s all about, I guess. I think that writers write about what they need to think about and read about.

And right now, what I need to read about and think about is how to make time for writing and exercise. (WARNING: this may be one of those rambling posts that really belongs in my journal but ends up here instead. Apologies in advance.)

Things are SLIGHTLY better in our house with regard to Baby J.J.’s sleeping. Last night, he slept for five hours in a row, which was a record. (WOO HOO!)

I’d really like to take time to think about when and how I can start increase the amount of exercise I get every day. I’m noticing that my twice weekly runs – Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon – aren’t really getting me where I want to be vis a vis strength, endurance, and cardio. I’ve been encouraging myself to run faster when I do run, and that is helpful. (If you can only run for 20 minutes, you need to SPRINT – is what I’ve been telling myself!)

The key for me is the mornings. If I can get it together to wake up at 4:30 a.m., there’s a decent chance I can squeeze in yoga and writing before the boys wake up. I woke up at 4:50 a.m. today and had time for three minutes of yoga and about 20 minutes of writing. That’s not bad, especially for a writer who’s also a mommy with two kids under three; we have to be pretty economical with our writing time. (The three minutes of yoga was more about me being exhausted than me being short on time! Even three down dogs is exhausting when you haven’t been yoga-ing for a while.)

I am wondering if I should alter my Monthly Writing Goals post so that it includes goals related to exercise or wellness, too – at least for May 2019. I’m not an Upholder a la Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies framework, so I don’t know if it will be helpful for me. But it’s worth a try!

Anyway – here are the things I need to read today:

1. There is enough time to do everything you want and need to do.

2. Enjoy this moment in life. Don’t spend this moment worrying about when you’ll have time to do other things. Someday, you will miss this moment – when your kids are tiny and life is sweet and simple – more than you can imagine.

3. You can exercise. It may not look the way you want it to right now, but you can incorporate exercise throughout your day. 

4. WAKE UP EARLY. You don’t need that extra hour of sleep; you’re exhausted anyway! 

Maybe this is what someone else needs to read as well. I hope it is!

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goals · writing

April 2019: Monthly Writing Goals

It’s spring! The weather is beautiful. and it’s almost summertime. And the summer is when I’m going to get A LOT OF WRITING DONE NO MATTER WHAT.

My goals for this month are pretty basic. I’ve abandoned the hope of getting substantial novel writing done at this time. J.J. is sleeping way better, but until he’s sleeping through the night, early morning or late evening writing is nearly impossible because I’m exhausted. I do still have my afternoon nap writing time on the weekend days, but that’s not always a given (need to have both boys asleep at the same time!) and I often use those chunks of time for blogging. So for now, I’m just aiming to get myself in gear so that when summer arrives (or when the sleep situation improves), I am READY to get some good writing done.

Here are my goals for April 2019:

  1. Maintain my blogging, posting every Tuesday and Saturday.
  2. Continue reading Story Genius. (I’m giving up on finishing it! This is a “write as you go” kind of book.)
  3. Get all of your novel writing transferred into Novlr. (More on that at some point!)
  4. Continue a modified digital minimalist diet.
  5. THINK about the novel as much as you can! Use your commute, and use voice memos. Plan things out and try to write at least 2,000 words this month.

So far, my monthly writing goals have been a great new ritual. Here’s hoping April brings more of the same!

alphabets ancient box business
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