Inspirational Posts

How to Juggle It All (Or What Happens When All The Balls Fall) by Fallon Brown

I often get asked how I get it all done, or at least how I can get so much done. And sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud. I don’t “do it all”. Not anymore than anyone else. The truth is, I only do what I can. And often that doesn’t feel like enough.

 

We all have a bit of a juggling act we have to do in life. For some, it’s a day job and family. For someone else, it could be finding time for their hobby among their other responsibilities. I dropped the day job ball almost eight years ago. Not because of writing, at that time. Along with it being just before my daughter was born, we moved out of town(and by that, I don’t just mean to another town. We now live outside of town). Added to that, any money I would have made at a job in our town would have gone to childcare, so we figured it was better for me to stay home.

 

Now both kids are in school, and I still haven’t picked that ball back up. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other balls to juggle. There is still family, making sure the kids get ready for school in the morning and get them off buses in the afternoon. And of course, they seem to think they need to eat every night. Then, there are other chores that need to be taken care of each day or at least week. They think they need clean clothes after all, and clean dishes to eat off of.

 

And there are other things that take up time. For me, it’s knitting, crochet, and reading. For you, it might be something else. As important as writing is to me, I need something else to relax me. Especially since writing tends to energize me. In fact, I rarely get that drained feeling from writing too much in a day(I get that feeling when I struggle to get the words out, though). So, I need something to wind back down.

 

So, how do you juggle all the things you need to do, the things you should do, and the things you really want to do? I guess it depends on where all those balls fall in the list of priorities. Most of the time, for me, writing falls between ‘should’ and ‘really want to’, with it leaning heavy to the ‘really want to’, and I make it a priority. The ‘Need to Do’ are sometimes the first ones that get dropped. Didn’t get the dishes done? Well, we still have a couple clean plates and forks. It can wait until tomorrow. I have found a pretty good routine that helps me balance, or at least juggle, everything. For the most part.

 

But, then there are the times when it feels like all the balls are dropping. Early in April, I was struggling with the words. Because I was trying to get all my words in first thing, I let the chores fall away too. Since I got behind on those, I fell behind on my knitting and reading, too. And I found out that like with writing, when I don’t get to read I feel a little crazed.

 

Sometimes you just have to pick the balls up again. For me, this usually involves moving whatever didn’t happen to the next day. Sometimes these lists can get long. But, I always start the next week over fresh, even if I ended up not accomplishing everything I wanted to. I use the weekends to catch up, particularly on my crafting or reading.

 

And sometimes you have to leave the balls where you drop them. Or at least adjust your juggling routine. I realized what one of the problems with my words was. Well, there were two different problems really. The first was an issue with the scene I was writing, and something I just had to push through. The other was the fact that another character was busy demanding my attention even though I hadn’t planned on writing that story yet. So, instead of fighting it, I rearranged my routine and split my daily word count between the two stories. Since I did that, words started flowing so much better.

 

No one is perfect. I’m sure we’ve all heard that before, and it’s true. We’re not always going to make our word count. We may miss a deadline or two. We’ll forget that one other thing we were supposed to do. But, we do what we can. And the “what we can” is different for everyone. I know mine might seem like a lot to some people, and yet most days I’m telling myself I could probably get more done. But, I know it could be that one extra ball that upsets everything.

~*~

Fallon Brown

Time To Refocus by Steph Beth Nickel

What should someone like me write?

 

I love movies, from CG to sci-fi—and many genres in between.

 

I love television, from old sitcoms to crime dramas—and really, what else is there? (Just kidding . . . sort of.)

 

And given endless hours to read, I would almost always gravitate to novels—primarily, but not exclusively, Christian fiction. Both my physical and my virtual shelves are bending under the weight of unread volumes.

 

I even have an idea for a series of contemporary Christian novels bee-bopping  around in my head, the first of which is fairly well planned out.

 

But what have I written over the last number of years? I’ve co-authored a Paralympian’s memoir. I’ve written dozens of poems, hundreds of blog posts (beyond ROW80 check-ins), and recently, I’ve written and recorded over 50 devotionals for HopeStreamRadio.

 

Yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I somehow have always thought that when I publish a novel, I’ll be “a real writer.”

 

Strange . . . because I don’t see other nonfiction writers as anything less than they are. There’s probably a whole psychological thing going on there, but that’s not what this post is about.

 

And there’s the whole gamut of skills required to write captivating fiction.

 

Just because I love to get emotionally involved with the characters I read about doesn’t mean I could create a protagonist who isn’t “too stupid to live.”

 

And just because I love a story that can make me laugh—or sob—aloud doesn’t mean I could weave together a plot with that much intensity.

 

And my favourite novels of all? They grab me by the throat and won’t let me go. I can only begin to imagine the amount of time and energy it takes to create a book like that.

 

So really, is novel writing for me?

 

And is it any less fulfilling to continue writing nonfiction and poetry? Will I still be a writer if I never see my name on the cover of a novel?

 

Remember what I said about the television shows I enjoy? Because I’m all about relationships, I’m all about the back-and-forth between characters—their relationships—and this is something I just don’t get from documentaries and cooking shows.

 

By the way, I teared up at the end of Night at the Museum 3. “Real” relationships were ending. Sigh!

 

I love to grab a new novel and get to know the cast of characters and how they interact with one another. And recently, I’ve discovered the joys of re-reading. It’s like visiting old friends. I’m enjoying several of these stories more the second time through. Oh, my! My To Be Read pile just got a lot higher.

 

So, will my novel ever be on someone’s TBR pile? I’m not really sure. But I do know a thing or two. I am a writer. I will seek to further develop my skills and write the best poems, blog posts, and nonfiction I can.

 

Sometimes it isn’t about something else. Sometimes it’s about the project right in front of you. If you’re like me, you may just have to refocus in order to recognize it.

 

 ~*~

Stephanie Nickel

 

 

 

Writing Through Calamity by Starr Bryson

Since many of you don’t know me, you perhaps don’t know my tales of woe.  The most recent of which includes several weeks where we got to play the guessing game of, “Water:  Will We or Won’t We?” in which the pipes in our house were frozen in an on again/off again fun game of winter temperatures.  The adventure ended with busted pipes, a flooded basement, and piles of dirty dishes; not to mention a very hippy-esque non-showered me at my wit’s end.

 

Just for added fun, life threw me a cold so nasty I couldn’t get out of bed or even function for several days.  Migraine headaches, sore throat, coughing fits, all of this and more came to visit me.  While I attempted to keep up with work I hardly managed that, let alone writing anything.

 

But even when we don’t have calamities and disasters in our households or sickness that halts our everyday lives – we still have life to deal with.  Life, in and of itself, can suck the minutes right of your day and the creativity right out of your brain.  You can wake up early, motivated to begin your day with all of the best intentions, and think, “THIS is the day! This is the day I will accomplish all 5,678 tasks on my To Do list, take care of the kids, get through my work, and make time for writing!”

 

But, before you know it, it’s dark outside, there’s dishes from dinner stacked all over the kitchen, fifteen people are pulling you in twenty different directions, not a thing got crossed off that To Do List, and your day is careening to an end without you ever touching your writing.

 

Sound familiar?

 

When life gets busy, even a short story can feel as daunting as The Great American Novel.  Sometimes even a blog post is too much to contemplate.  A simple update on Twitter or Facebook can amount to “all of the writing I have time for.”

 

How do you keep up the momentum on writing projects?  How do you stay inspired?

Make Time for Writing

If you have a busy schedule, then you’re going to have to schedule in your writing time.  You can’t wait for inspiration to strike or the perfect moment.  You won’t find the time if you don’t make the time.  Writing is important, or at least it should be.  Everything else in your schedule is important enough to have a chunk of your precious time set aside for just that task – make time for your writing.

Make writing a priority

More than just penciling in a time to write every day, you need to make writing a priority in your life.  Life is about balance, and part of that balance is sometimes making hard choices.  Sometimes we have to give up one thing to make room for another.  If being a writer is something you truly want to accomplish, then it might be time to take a look at your daily activities and start making those hard choices.  What can you give up in order to write?

 

Obviously, family obligations and work are not an option.  But, could you give up an hour of watching television every night?  Social activities?  No one ever said being a writer was going to be easy.  If you really want to be a writer, you are going to have to make room for it in your life.

Remember the Love of the Craft

Once we make writing a priority and we’ve scheduled it into our busy calendars, it can seem like a chore.  Once something is a chore, it’s no longer fun.  What was once a fun past time is now a job.  Writing might come to be an event that we resent, a time slot in our schedule no more fun than car pooling or doing dishes.

 

Trash that attitude right now.

 

Think back to when you first began writing.  What did it feel like?  Was it magical?  Did your fingers fly over the keys in a race against your brain to create fantastical lands of romance and adventure?  Was it a cathartic therapy session; you pouring out your feelings of helplessness and frustration onto the paper?  Did writing excite you, heal you, lift you up, and help you dream?

 

Was writing, once upon a time, your favorite place to visit?  Did you look forward to creating worlds with your words, inciting emotions in your readers, pouring emotional vomit onto the paper?

 

Think of all of the reasons you love to write, all the pride you feel when you call yourself a “writer”.

 

Remember when your relationship with writing was a brand new, heart pounding, head spinning romance?  Remember when the relationship was new, before life got in the way?

 

Remember that feeling.  Remember why you fell in love with writing.  Tap into that love and don’t let those feelings go.

 

Writing is a rewarding relationship. But just like any relationship, you have to make it a priority and keep the spark alive.  Writers need to fuel that fire, keep the romance alive with their craft.

 

Reconnect with your writing.  You’ll fall in love all over again.  And it will be magical.

~*~

Starr Bryson

Inspiration Is A Fickle Friend by Molley Mills

Being inspirational is difficult when you’re not inspired. This winter has left me entirely uninspired, with a capital I. It’s cold and we’re buried in snow. We’ve also had our turns of being cut down by the dreaded lurgy and shared our germs with each other with gay abandon! You’d be amazed how many rounds a cold can go when you’re living in close quarters and the outside temps are something straight out of the arctic.

Life throws curve balls like that and as writers we can use those experiences to flavour our words. Having ideas is a minute by minute thing for me and part of the writing process, so it counts, right? Those ideas are waiting to be developed and put onto paper or keyboard, which ever is the prefered method. But I never stick to my goals, life gets in the way. I’m terrible at it. I make plans and list and flow charts…and then nothing. It’s just the way it is, especially this month, since I played single parent while my husband was away on his much needed reconnection trip to the homeland.

I try to set time aside but there’s always a distraction, I guess learning to work through those is something I need to try harder to control. Accepting your flaws and working with them can help though. I often think of those pie charts about writers, who have all the time to develop their writing and yet, the night before deadline, they’re burning the midnight oil to finish, and surprisingly the product is good. Is it inspiration or sheer panic that motives them? Probably both. I’ve been guilty of that since the second year of middle school. I’ve always been the night before Queen. But when it comes, if you can just let it flow, then magic happens… or drivel, that happens too.

Be kind to yourselves in this writing process. Expect to ebb and flow with ideas and inspiration and writers block and crappy product. In amongst it all there is mastery, and that’s why we continue because we know somewhere deep down we have things to say, unique things and interesting ways of seeing the world. And someone is waiting to connect with that, use our words as an inspiration to their daily struggle.

Isn’t that why we write?

Yeah it is….

~*~

Molley Mills

Sometimes One Has To Be Patient by Alberta Ross

Sometimes one has to be patient.

 

I’m not that patient really. Would like everything at once but life rarely works like that.  We all of us here want to pen that masterpiece.  We struggle through employment, family commitments, ill health and just not enough hours in the day. The difficulty is too hang onto our dreams to believe that one day it will happen.  It will if we want it enough. But.

 

But but but.

It may take time and patience.

 

Long ago, when a child, I thought it would be neat to write a book.  I produced a hand drawn paper book of a few pages all about a rabbit – Master Rabbit to be sure. My parents kept it, proud of their child even if they weren’t proud of her spelling. We are talking about the late 1940s here. It spurred me to think one day I would write a proper book. Then I began to make a list of other things I was going to do.

 

I was a child of few ambitions, I didn’t want husband ,child or career, but the ones that I had were great in magnitude.

 

I wanted to travel the world(half the world was in  bombed ruins!)

I wanted to go to university( I was deemed too stupid to sit the children’s exams, and anyway girls didn’t really go to University)

I wanted to fly in a hot air balloon (not many about back then)

I wanted to go to Antarctica (no visitors allowed)

I wanted to write a book

I wanted to have my own little house(with wild garden and a couple of cats)

 

In the meantime I was at school dreaming my life away, deemed too stupid to bother with.

 

I grew up,began to look after children and began the travel; a decade + had gone since I first voiced this ambition.  I didn’t stop for years.

 

I managed to go on a course for hot air ballooning for my 40th birthday three + decades after I first voiced this one.

 

University, in a menopausal hiccup, in my late 40s was achieved and ‘stupid me’ got a BSc Hons and an MA. During this period I also got the chance to go to Antarctica, with the help of a legacy left my sister. Amazing

 

The house I managed after retirement,having it built just how I wanted it to be.  Nearly six decades after my childish dream.

 

The books followed a year or two later.

 

 

A long time to fulfill my ambitions, people say, but the time was never right, or the money was never there. Life and employment can grip one as tight as any chains. I never lost the dreams and grabbed opportunities when they came and, in the meantime, I lived life as it came, enjoyed myself, made friends, did some smaller interesting stuff. Collected memories and experiences and can say hand on heart I have had a good life.

 

The point is I achieved what I wanted eventually .Maybe not all at once, but with patience, and a fair amount of doggedness.

 

This last two years I have been struggling with heart failure which saps my energy and lays me low.  It quarrels furiously with my desire to write, sulks and sends me to bed if I try to finish  my WIP.  But I am defeating it.  I am slowly getting my own way.  I had to rethink my schedule a couple of times, accept the WIP wasn’t gong to be the speedier affairs of earlier books.  But I will finish it and I will write another. There may not be decades still in my life to wait, but I’m good for a few more years yet:)

 

If family or work is confining you, despair not.  Children grow(so quickly) money  hopefully becomes less of an issue (although it is more of one in my case!).  In the meantime you have accumulated memories, experiences and life  and love, all of which will feed into the writing and fling the words up high.

 

We must enjoy what we have, what we cannot change.  Hold on to our dreams of that masterpiece.  Be part of the world and garner every sensation we can while we wait for the dreams to come true.  ROW80 allows this.  Does not go for guilt or failure.  Smiles and tells us gently that all is well in this crazy closed world writers inhabit.

~*~

Alberta Ross

Disney, Potential, and Nothing Too Small by Lucy Ball

Even those of us who have never visited Disney Land or Disney World have still likely experienced the contagious joy and playfulness of our inner child, the spirited nature of dreams Walt Disney spent his life celebrating. Walt, himself was famous not only for his creativity and legendary imagination, but for his words of wisdom about the power of dreams, determination, and about setting and following through with goals.

Today, my family and I are fortunate to be visiting one of the Disney complexes, a magical land filled with hope and optimism. And sadly, my six year old is too sick to leave our room to join in on the festivities that go on without us. As she sleeps, I find myself thinking about the hundreds of quotes and memes I have seen stream across social media that are intended to inspire and uplift. Of those, Walt’s quotes are some of the most meaningful of all.

And so I find myself contemplating Walt’s legacy and lessons he objectified, as my six year old daughter rests quietly. I could consider the fact that she is too ill to go to one of the theme parks as a disappointment. I could be discouraged or even irritated that we aren’t joining her sister and her father today at Epcot. Instead, I’m feeling it’s a gift that we are staying here at the resort for the day instead. Don’t get me wrong, I could have done without waking up seventy-five times with her throughout the night to help hold the waste basket while she wretched repeatedly. I know she would rather be greeting her favorite characters and seeing the incredible attractions while her father and I do absolutely everything necessary to avert inevitable mid-day meltdowns. And yet, she’s resting peacefully.

She will likely wake up happy and chipper as can be. She’s probably even dreaming about the magic of the stories and their characters, the rides and the shows she’s experienced, and the wonder of seeing her imagination materialize in real life before her very eyes.

Some people don’t know that Walt was actually a co-founder of what we now know as the Walt Disney Company. His partner and original Disney CEO was, businessman and brother Roy Disney. In fact, Walt sadly died before his dream of a “Disney World” came to fruition. It was his brother Roy who would oversee construction and follow his brother’s dream through with the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida.

So what does this all have to do with goals and writing and #ROW80? Obviously, I could share quote upon quote by Walt Disney about setting goals and following your dreams and so on. Instead, I sit here watching my child sleep as I consider how incredibly simple the original inspiration for this magical celebration of art and imagination was.

While the Disney Company is an unrivaled entertainment and media empire, it is also a reminder to us all about the incredible potential in the simplicity of seeing the world through eyes of a child. Even Walt Disney himself, often reminded loyal fans of how this magical celebration of imagination began.

Sometimes we hesitate to attempt, we refuse to consider possibilities because our dreams seem overly simple. Or perhaps we feel too small in comparison to the enormity of the world to follow through with any idea that is less than epic.

To believe that no idea is too simple, no goal is too small, and no idea is too insignificant is to entertain an ideology our world is in desperate need of. It is within the minds of those of us who share these beliefs that the potential for magic in its purest form can be discovered. We are all slight in comparison to something or another.

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” ~Walt Disney

~*~

Lucy Ball

Don’t Break The Chain by John Holton

It’s the beginning of 2015 as I write this, and the various how-to sites are full of productivity “hacks” (i.e. hints or tips… why they don’t call them that, I have no idea why), about increasing your output and establishing new habits. One that comes up all the time is the “Seinfeld method,” the way Jerry Seinfeld established himself as a great comic.

When he was starting in the comedy business, Jerry figured out he had to write every day if he was going to make it. He bought a year-at-a-glance calendar and a red Magic Marker, hung the calendar on his wall, and, each day when he had finished, crossed out the date on the calendar with the marker. After a while, realizing how much fun it was to see his calendar gradually fill up with red X’s, he made it his goal not to have any dates that were not crossed off. He called it “Keep The Chain Going.”

I realized he was right, and that I had experienced it myself. I started on 750Words.com back in February 2012, and committed to completing the 750 words each day. The site told me after three days “You’re on a 3 day streak!” Then it was 4 days, then a few days later 7 days, then 30, 60, 90… Soon I was doing the 750 words just to see the number go up by one every day. Then, for some reason I can’t remember, after I had reached a streak of 403, I broke the chain. I felt terrible; I had broken the chain. I managed to get myself back on track, and, after a couple of false starts, I’m now (as of this writing) at 54 days in a row. I don’t want to let that chain get broken. And there have been times I’ve sat down at the computer at 11:30 at night (2330, if you keep time the way I do) and finished just before midnight. And, as tempting as it is to generate 750 words of “Lorem ipsum aliquat” etc., I’ve never had to rely on that to keep the chain going.

It’s been the same with my blogging. Last July, I challenged myself to blog at least once a day, every day, Monday to Sunday, for as long as I could. July 1 was the start of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (where you post daily for the month) and just kept going. Today, the chain stands at six months, eight days. I go to my web page and look in the upper left-hand corner at the calendar there, with all of its days marked off, and I don’t want to break that chain, either.

“Keep the chain going” is a technique that works for me, and for Jerry Seinfeld, and for others who have used it to establish a habit. Seeing the chain forming and keeping it going is a powerful incentive.

So, if you’ve been having trouble keeping a habit going, why not give it a try? Print a calendar (here’s a good source), use one of those calendars you get for free at church (it’s the beginning of the year, after all), or use this. Write your goal at the top of the page and hang it where you can see it. Every day you complete your daily goal, cross off the date on the calendar. Soon, if you’re faithful to the process, you’ll see a chain forming. Then, don’t break the chain.

All right? All right! Straight ahead!

~*~

John Holton