I have officially reached the state of paralysis. You may have noticed there hasn’t been a blog entry since July. If you’ve seen me in person lately and asked what I’ve been working on, I weakly respond with a shoulder shrug and desperate rush to change the subject. There are a number of reasons for this. Life has a nasty tendency to get in the way of writing — family, job, house, volunteering — they all demand my time, my brain power, my creative energy. Also, guilt plays a pretty huge part of the equation. How do I strike a balance where I’m giving 100% of myself to personal responsibilities and still have something left for my creative pursuits?
Answer: I don’t. Instead of giving 100%, which is totally impossible, I give a lower percentage to each item at a decreasing rate dependent upon immediate need. Some examples: one of my co-workers recently retired at the cusp of our busiest season, which translated into extra hours at work. The kids started school, and I had to make sure they had what they needed. While I managed to keep everyone fed and in clean underwear, the layer of dirt in the house increased exponentially, and my laptop lay buried under piles of scout materials. No writing happened. For weeks.
But it’s not just that. There have been small chunks of time where I could have planted my butt in the chair and typed away at something… anything… but I didn’t. Why? you ask. I’ll tell you why. Doubt. Doubt is an ugly, ugly monster who has firmly planted himself in my brain. What if I never write anything worthwhile ever again? What if all my ideas are stupid? Does anyone really give a crap about what I have to say?
I have an amazing, supportive group of writing friends, who nod sympathetically as I describe the fears that stomp on my confidence like grapes in a barrel. They’ve all been there. They all balance life with writing, quietly shoving it into the corner when things get hectic, patiently searching for moments where they can settle into the salve that soothes us: the words falling onto the page from our fingertips, the release of ideas crowded in our brain. I need to write. When I don’t, I become this moody, unruly creature no one wants to be around.
Too many responsibilities, not enough time, pressure to perform — these are all things that can be overcome. But the longer I stand on the edge of the diving board, the harder it gets to jump. Every morning I promise to change, and every evening I go to bed without writing any words. Talk, talk, talk. No action. How do we push ourselves over the edge and into the pool?
I’ve been meaning to start a food blog, and a few weeks ago, it finally launched. It’s not much — a picture of what we ate for dinner with a short blurb about the daily challenges of being a plant eater in a house full of meat eaters. Follow along if you’d like. But it has helped get me out of my writing funk a little, and now that we are finally settling into the school year, hopefully I’ll get back into a writing routine. Which will at least address the first half of my difficulties.
As for the doubt, well, it may never fully go away. We all, at some point, feel inadequate about our skills and worry we aren’t accomplishing all we set out to accomplish. And you know what? That’s okay. We’re human. And as artists, we will never create the perfect thing everyone loves. So I guess my advice (to myself and anyone else who struggles with doubt) is this: Make time for the things that bring you happiness because they will make you a better person in the end. Focus on the process rather than the product, and stop worrying about what other people think. Easier said than done, I know, but if I can jump back into the water, so can you.
6 thoughts on “Jumping in”
how did you and I get all the self doubt and Rick got none? (and maybe after all that has happened w/him self doubt is not such a bad thing??)
Super biased…but also bluntly honest (you can’t ditch me, so ha!). You are a very talented writer. Better than me , the only other published author in the family (ok, can’t count John quite yet). Write what you know, write what you love— your talent is there, always has been. I’ve loved seeing how you’ve honed it and sharpened your skills.
The mantra of the distance runner is “run the mile you’re in”- meaning, basically, focus on where you are- not too far ahead, not backwards. Don’t get paralyzed by how much you have left to accomplish, nor by how what lies behind you transpired. Actually some pretty dang good life advice!
Aside from your writing, you are also creating 2 good men out of the sludge that is plugged-in, modern-day teenagers, and that’s no mean feat nowadays.
See yourself as others see you….the voice in your head is mean (I know, I have one too).
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Thank you, Sissy. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on and making a choice to do nothing instead of taking one small bite at a time. I appreciate your love and support. ❤
I will try to incorporate that running mantra and tell the voice in my head to stop being such an annoying nag!!
Love you lots!
Good Morning Dear Sandi! I can relate I understand how LIFE can overtake your world and shift the priorities – sometimes dominating and stealing time from our passions. The very same passions that regenerate, refuel and serve to recharge us. We know that this time is precious and allows us to fill our cup so we can keep giving. We also know that responsibilities (family, work and other) can be overwhelming and impossible to ignore. As you know, Riana came home in the middle of June from her extended stay in Chicago. It was challenging when she was away in a different way, but it was only Rich and I without the added pressure of working to heal her. When Riana came home, we were prepped with how to handle and support her recovery, but it was really HARD. I finished school and Rich and Riana was able to join me in San Antonio for FBLA. We survived the trip, but there were many food related scenarios that were traumatic and sensitive. It made me question why I mixed work and family. Is is the only trip that although I am working – I can have time to myself. Of course, I then question how can I be so selfish? Let’s get together and I will send you some links that I think will inspire, shake the doubt right out of you, and move you in a different direction that fools your brain into writing. Take care pal! Carla
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Thank you, I will definitely check out those links! I loved This is Water. We need to get together soon, friend!! ❤
Being young and being so hard on yourself. I spent many hours in group therapy listening to myself and other women trying to deal with all the demands of life. The take away from the therapist-change the tape in your head. Create a more positive narrative for yourself. Accept who you are. Be proud of all that you’ve achieved. Enjoy your youth. It will all work out in the end. Be joyful and please, please take some time to smell the roses. You are doing great things in your life. Give yourself a pat on the back and a warm hug.
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Thank you, that is good advice. I sometimes worry I wasted too much time when the kids were little worrying about what I was doing wrong instead of just enjoying their innocence. When life feels like it’s burying you, it isn’t easy to appreciate the little things – but I do try.