How To Do It All (& Stay Sane)

For those of you who have more than one responsibility, of which writing tries to be a member, let me clear something up.

( + stay sane)

When my daughter was born, I was in free-fall.  Who was I? What was I supposed to do?  How did I continue wife-ing, + author-ing, in addition to mothering??  I had a LOT of heartache + confusion to battle through, which took me years.  Y E A R S, people.  It was not easy.  I used to write all the time, whenever I felt like it.  Now I couldn't do that.  Was I still a writer?  Was I doing my vocation a disservice?  Would my writing genius DIE??

Try to tell me you haven't worried about this too.  You have a socially-accepted "job," or children, or you're in school - whatever: there are "other things" that you view as taking up your time + not allowing you to write.  Am I right?

yes, + we're wrong

Here's the problem with this way of thinking: no one has a "full-time job" I know I tell people, "Yeah, being a mother is it's own full-time job," + you all get what I mean.  But it's not.  Nothing is a full-time job.  Except breathing.  Breathing is a full-time job.  You do not do any one job constantly.  Every job requires breaks, even if all you can do in those breaks is rest - that's okay too.  But the key, I've found, is to get rid of this mentality of "full-time" + "part-time" jobs.  All jobs take their time, + very few lives are going to have everything cordoned off into neat, symmetrical packages of time so that no one task feels cheated.  That's just ridiculous.  All jobs take their time.

linear vs. integral 

"to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven"

As Westerners, we tend to take a linear view of our lives, continuing from Point A (birth) to Point B (death), with little tics along the way that highlight the customary milestones of a normal existence.  As useful as this view may be, it isn't the only view.

My own butt-hurt regarding my writing was alleviated by the thought that my work (mothering, being a wife, keeping a house, being a writer) are not strictly separate "jobs," but rather "gears" that are interlocked.  It takes awhile to get the gears all in place, so chill out, guys.  I can't do all my jobs together at the same time, but neither do I have to chop them up and hermetically seal them off from each other.  They can interlock.  Perhaps writing-time links with nap-time (not always, but I see that it's possible), etc.  When one gear is cranked away, another can come into view.  The tasks can be integrated.

Whoever you are, whatever you're doing, chances are you're not writing all the time, + you probably feel guilty when you're not focusing on writing.  Don't.  Everything has a time, everything has a purpose; you can forget about such things as "full-time jobs" + the ridiculous mental pressure applied by society on that concept.  You still have your job cut out for you: you still have to figure out how to match your gears; but you needn't feel guilty.  You needn't feel that you're cheating your creative self because you have other responsibilities as well.

there is no writing utopia

practical advice: replace "should" with "need" + "want"

This was a hugely useful piece of mental health advice I discovered.  "Should" is usually a harbinger of undue guilt, whereas "need" + "want" help clarify an issue.  Exempli gratia: I "want" to go clean the kitchen, but I actually "need" to rest.  This puts everything in perspective.  Try it!  Sometimes what we want to do seems like the best thing (cleaning the kitchen is always a good thing, ehwot??), but isn't actually the necessary thing.  I don't always want to write, you guys.  Writing is stressful + hard.  Writing means I have to think.  Thinking is exhausting.  Sometimes it's easier to just not do the writing, + sometimes I have to tell myself that what I need to do is sit my butt down + work on my manuscript.

remember: your only full-time job is breathing

thanks for still breathing!
xoxo, jenny