Traits of the Successful Author—Discernment
Many of you who follow this blog have a dream to be a successful author. This requires writing, social media, blogging, revisions, and on and on and on. It’s a lot of work and life, family, kids, day jobs, and housework all provide tempting distractions. The past two days here in Texas have had gorgeous weather and I just wanted to go do something outside and enjoy the balmy temperatures before being thrust into three months of triple-digit hell.
But I needed to finish my revisions. Sigh.
Tuesday, I spent all day with a paper copy of my new book doing line-edits for the umpteenth time. I was finding stuff three other outside editors missed. I worked until my vision was so blurry I couldn’t keep going. Wednesday? Instead of going outside? I finished entering the revisions.
I was going to indulge in sleeping in today and maybe even finally go outside and enjoy the weather, but got a late-night call my mother is in the hospital and will have emergency surgery today for a hernia. She is the light of my life and one of the funniest people on the planet (I get my talent for humor from her). Get us together and it’s stand-up comedy central. When we lived together, we used to have grocery clerks fight over who’d check us out because we’d always have them in stitches.
My mom is a strong Scandinavian woman, so it’s weird for her to be ill or injured (and not painting anything). She’s like me and just presses through even when she’s tired, sick or hurting. We’re both stubborn :D. I’m keeping up with her and the hospital, but there isn’t much I can do yet, so I’m here talking to you guys (because you always brighten my days).
The thing I want to share is, life doesn’t stop because we want to write. Laundry, dishes, sickness, accidents, trials and temptations will still be around to divert our focus. We will need to develop two traits to succeed long-term. Today we are going to talk about the first one: discernment.
When is it time to work? When do we need rest? When do others truly need us? What are our priorities? Just to warn you, these will change. We need to always be revisiting what should be a priority in life, and in what order.
Today, my mom will be a priority as soon as I hear something. Entropy is real and so we must do constant adjustments to deadlines, goals, and expectations (of ourselves and others). As we talked about earlier, I am still working on discerning when to rest. We are all works in progress. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
Writers who are successful long-term have balance. Discernment is critical to achieving balance. Writing should never come first in our lives. I spent an hour yesterday chasing The Spawn around the house playing with swords. I take regular breaks to play with him and let him know he’s loved. Maybe read Dinosaur vs. Bedtime 14 times until he returns to playing with his cars.
Every evening, Hubby and I play video games together and now we’re learning to play guitar together. We do this to wind down. See, I realized I wasn’t resting enough and now I’m striving to be better at it.
Making the Rounds
I take timed breaks in between writing work to do a load of laundry, then back and write an hour, then do the dishes, then back to writing. I keep up with friends and family regularly on the phone. I can talk to them while I tidy the house and do the chores. I take a 90 minute break in the morning and talk to my mom while I mop, dust, make beds, etc. For me, I require a neat home or it affects my creativity and focus, so I knew I needed to work chores into the schedule. I don’t have the luxury of cleaning all day.
I had to learn to take my core priorities and then deliberately make rounds.
1. Time with kid? Check.
2. Dishes done while talking to Mom? Check.
3. Blog up? Check.
4. Bed made? Check.
5. An hour of editing? Check.
6. Tickle The Spawn until he screams? Check.
7. Video games with Hubby? Check.
8. Playing on the Kinect with The Spawn? Check.
9. Dinner made? Check.
10. Spend Saturday with Grandmother (who has dementia)? Check.
11. Visit Mom in hospital and make sure she’s tended (Note: Move to top of list)
Making our writing a priority is vital, but it won’t fulfill us if it comes at the expense of our relationships, our health, and our peace. And to warn you, you will never get there. Our In-Boxes will never be empty. Ever.
Just about the time things are humming along, I guarantee something (like an ill family member) will toss in something new to juggle. The trick is to accept that it’s not personal, just life. Learn to roll with it. Expending emotion at the unfairness/hassle of it all takes energy you need for being creative.
Yes, there are times we need to press. The two days I would have rather been in the park, I needed to work 16 hour days to finish. But this can’t be a way of life. It would be like trying to sprint a marathon. Life is much like a marathon. One foot in front of the other. Breaks, water and snacks when needed. Keep moving. Then, when needed? Sprint! Then rest.
Today, I’m headed to the hospital once I hear something. Am supposed to go to a graduation tonight, but that might have just shifted down the list. We are only responsible to do what we can control. What we can’t control? Let it go. The world won’t end ;). I seriously need a nap though. Pretty wiped.
Do you struggle with balance? With knowing what to make a priority? Do you find yourself being too rigid? I know I do. Have to work on that. Are you a worrier? Do you procrastinate? Have you been able to successfully achieve a nice balance? What did you do?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!