I’ve recently come to a couple of realizations. These aren’t new concepts, and are probably old hat to a lot of you. They really aren’t new to me, either, but I tend to need a refresher on some of Life’s lessons. I don’t think I’m alone on that one. The first of these mind-altering lessons is that life is crazy. Can someone with a three year-old give me an Amen? Some days (weeks/months/years) are full of unstoppable forces and uncontrollable circumstances. There’s nothing that you or I can do about those, and sometimes we’re overcome by the stress of it all. Other times, we fill our time with doing, and being, and living. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be busy, as long as you remember lesson number two:
Life is an investment.
Time for some #gutsonthepage.
I’ve been in a bit of a slump when it comes to my writing. For the past three months there hasn’t been much flowing out of me. I hit the end of my Honeymoon phase. The adrenaline of “OH MY GOSH I SOLD A STORY!” ran out. Even though I sold a few more, and won a contest, I began to rely on the deadline crunch to get anything done. My writing time moved from priority one to maybe tomorrow. I was daunted by the vastness of how long an actual real novel is, and how far away I was from “arriving.” Rather than taking the steps I could, I let my writing die off. I found myself at a point where I thought: “Am I still a writer if I’m not writing anything?”
For me, being a writer isn’t about having a book published (but obviously it’s a goal). It’s not signing book deals or making the New York Time’s Best Seller’s list, either. Now, those things are fantastic and I’ll gladly take them when its time, but I’m not there yet. What makes someone a writer is that they sit in a chair/couch/floor/cushion and they write. They create stories. And they do it consistently.
I’m incredibly thankful to my Realm Makers family. I have a large support group that has gone through this stage, and could be going through it with me now. I’ve been encouraged many times by my friends in that group. Everyone starts at the beginning, and everyone struggles. And herein lies my inspirational realization:
Life is crazy, invest in what you want out of it.
As I said, life is full of unstoppable forces and uncontrollable circumstances. An unstoppable force is something you need to do. It could be a great, fantastic thing like your day job, spending time with your family, or serving in your Church. Those are good things. They need done, and you’re going to do them. An uncontrollable circumstance is one of those things that makes you almost scream, or stress out, and sometimes succeeds. “Who spilled the entire box of cereal?” “Who peed on the floor?” “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” Whether you want to or not, they are going to happen.
Living life takes up our time, and brain power, and it’s a good thing to live. Between the uncontrollable and unstoppable is the time we have to invest in who we want to be. Think about the things that you spend your free time on, and ask yourself: Am I happy with what I’m doing? Am I able to do the things I feel called by the Creator to do? For me, had gone into cruise control and had stopped investing in who I was called to be.
All of us have free time, even if it’s ten minutes a day. After a long day at work, and a youth group meeting, and spending time with my kids, I could decide that my day was just too much, and catch up on a couple TV shows. OR I could write a couple hundred words and knock out a short story. I could take a few hours on a Saturday to plow through my vast TO READ list, or I could build a house out of diamonds in Minecraft. Now, do I need to give up TV and video games? It’s not off the table, I guess. There is a balance somewhere, but what am I investing in? Should I practice my skills and write, or should I see The Flash stop another Meta?
I recently came across this old blog post on the Writer’s Digest. I was worrying about how long a novel should be, and this author gives some general guidelines for length and content, but at the end his summary slammed me in the face: Let the story flow. Don’t stress about perfection, don’t worry about word count, -ly adverbs or fitting every twist and gasp-worthy backstory into your first draft. Invest in your story, write it out. It won’t be written until you start it.
Life’s not going to slow down. Maybe it will someday, but right now you have to make a decision. Wait until your moment is here, and you’re not qualified or skilled for the task, or invest your time and miss out on something that really isn’t that important. I’m choosing to invest my time to practice my craft, and be a writer. I will deal with the unstoppable forces and the uncontrollable circumstances and I will make time to be who God has called me to be.
Today also kicks off my new post schedule. I’m giving myself some deadlines to help schedule my time wisely. Every Manic Monday I will post about life, and my thoughts on it. Sometimes, this will be things I’m interested in like board games and technology. Come back again for Fiction Friday, where I will be posting a short story, or serialized tale. Writing has just moved back up my priority list. I hope you’ll be along for my journey.