a ‘How do I get myself into these things’ update?

Okay. I was tempted to call this a Busy Person’s Update, but I could just hear someone saying out loud, “We’re all busy these days!” And they’d be right, But there’s phenomena at work here, at least for me, and it’s something I think we’ve all seen.

How the busy person, despite vows to the contrary, gets busier, no matter what.

I had come off a full year of ‘stuff’ in my life. Getting two books up on Amazon, some personal and family illness, house reno, doing my part on a group anthology, escaping a hurricane and recovering from its aftermath, prepping for Christmas, Christmas with all the family in…. and then I go and decide to attempt the Hallmark project.

Why do I do these things? I was already set to focus on just 2 of my books, two I plan to market for traditional publication. The anthology was behind me (although our group is eagerly taking on another one). In the back of my mind I was prepping for returning to the  home reno I’d  had to temporarily  (see that word, kids? temporarily) abandon. But, as mentioned previously in this blog, the opportunity was too good to pass up. I did finish the book, complete with proper revisions, and submitted it in time. 82,000+ words. No word back yet.

Still, even with that in submission limbo, I was left with 2 books with major tangly problems to work on, and a house and yard  begging for attention. You’d think that was enough. No, I had to get the bug to write an article about a local meadery – I have developed a taste for mead, or honey wine, as some refer to it. I want to share what I’ve learned. So, I’ve gone and pitched an article for that.

WHY do we do this to ourselves? Is it because we can’t stand being idle? Does it hearken back to school days where every teacher loaded you up saying you needed to do all these assignments in order to pass/succeed? Is it because we feel a responsibility to ‘step up’ and take on something we’re asked to do, even if it’s ourselves doing the asking?

Is it the ‘shiny new thing’ distraction? We just have to do the new thing?


Today we seem to be caught between the idea of slow-down-stop-to-smell-the-roses-appreciate-life approach and the drive-to-succeed-I-can-do-everything-bring-it-on mentality. How do we handle that?

I think a few people thrive at either end of the spectrum. Some of us cycle between the two approaches – although personally I could use a little longer on the smelling the roses bit. Unlike a true bell curve, I think only a few strike a balance.  I envy them, I think…although  a little bit of mania in life can be a good thing. We should feel free to enjoy the rush while it feels good.

Maybe that’s the thing: doing what works for you. People are different; what works for one can be killing to another. Find your own working process. Find your story. And then thrive.

It’s been a busy month at home….

WritersWorkWe had some repair, we had a party, we had some social activism…. and we had some writing. Just nothing terribly visible at the moment. Ie, it ain’t done yet.

Ever have that feeling you’ve fenced yourself in so well with activities that you either can’t get to your desk to write, or you can’t get away from your desk to take care of other parts of your life? I know so  many writers with this problem or variants, I’ve lost track of their numbers the way people lose track of how many times they go to the grocery store. It’s part of the game, and the solution is balance.

Of  course, everyone is asking how you balance your life these days. We are all so overworked, over-scheduled, and overdone with it all.

The best thing I can recommend are: LISTS. I am a great lister. In fact, my kids have told me more than once that their most common memory of me is at the kitchen table (or at my desk or at the steering  wheel of my van) writing down or consulting a list. Things to do, things to buy, things to make, appointments to keep, stuff to fix. All the different lists of things and tasks that make up our lives. Christmas lists. Halloween & dance costume lists.

And then there were the lists for writing. Projects to work on, people to call, revisions to do, plot points, characters, settings, timelines (not a true list, but I often list scenes or plot points to get them in order). You get the picture.

What did I do with the lists? you ask. How did they help?

Well, some didn’t. Some became nags as days went by before I could complete the items on the list. Some, embarrassingly, I find years later stuffed in a tote bag or box, still unfinished and crying out at me for abandoning them. Some deserved to be abandoned. Others are proudly marked with checkmarks, cross-outs, and revisions and additions. Beautiful working lists that helped solve my problems and put order to my universe,

Now, I have found that I have to be careful of lists. If I don’t intentionally and purposefully keep them at hand to checkmark off what I accomplish, I am more likely to forget about them as well as everything I’ve put on them. Because sometimes, putting an item on a list convinces my mind that I took care of it.

Sometimes I think the beauty of the list is in the writing. By putting things down where I can see them, I eventually detect patterns and priorities and can order things by criteria that make sense to me. It’s a  matter of using a manual tool to assist a largely mental process.

So, it works or it does not work, but it’s my way of calming the whirlwinds and taming the chaos. Although, I’ve always felt a touch of chaos is a good thing.

What’s your favorite way of trying to organize?