Getting on Track

T has been back at school since the first week in August. B finally started his last year of preschool two weeks ago. I was so excited. I was truly giddy with anticipation about the hours I would finally have to myself to focus again on writing. I prepared myself by finding two early September submission deadlines – one for a short story, the other a personal essay – so that I would have concrete tasks to accomplish. I recognized that jumping into the empty pages of the novel-idea-in-progress deep end would be too much pressure. Plus, I needed some time to shake off the summer sloth and build up my writing chops again.

B’s first day of school arrived and we were eagerly out the door. He jumped out of the car with nary a second glance (if it’s this easy for him to leave me at 4, I am shuddering at the thought of when he’s 18!). I pulled away from the smiling teacher’s faces at the curb and drove home smiling myself, eager to start my new writing adventure.

I went to my desk. I pulled up the file for the first submission. I stared at it. Nothing. I eased my way in by editing a bit of the front end and tried to pound out the next few lines, attempting to find some sort of purchase in the words to continue the writing journey forward. About 45 minutes in, I was ready to find the want ads and go back to work. 

Seriously. After 45 minutes. I was ready to throw in the towel. Box up that dream of mine again and shelve it for a braver time. Self-doubt began whispering in my ear “see, you can’t do this.” “It’s too hard.” “You have nothing to say.” “You suck.” My self-doubt isn’t very nice to me sometimes. 

I ended up watching something on the DVR and counting down the minutes until I could pick up the little guy and have a justifiable excuse for why I wasn’t writing. 

Luckily, a pep talk from the hubby that evening, some perspective and perseverance allowed me to find a rhythm. In the last 10 days, I’ve submitted both items and feel pretty darn good about the work I produced. Is it perfect? Nope. Was it great practice? For sure. Has it opened up a creative well where ideas, motivation and inspiration are suddenly bubbling to the surface? Thankfully, yes. 

I still have to work hard at drowning out self-doubt’s voice, and imagine that will be something I battle forever. Don’t we all, in some respects, continuously have to remind ourselves that we aren’t 13 anymore with bad skin and frizzy hair and no clue about life? Well, if you don’t, send me your secrets. The good news is that work begets work. The more I do, the more I have to do. The more I want to do. The more I end up doing. It might be circular logic, but it works for me. 

This week, I’m easing into adding a few additional commitments to my morning time (aka, time both kids are in school) when I usually write. I’ll be volunteering at the elementary school library on the days my preschooler stays after school for a sports class (allowing me the same amount of regular writing time plus the time to volunteer). And I’m sneaking in a yoga class one day before afternoon preschool pick-up. I hope that I’m not sabotaging my writing time with these additions, but I tried to find tasks that will also fulfill my creative self – what better why to fill my tank than by centering myself and surrounding myself with books? 

As I bask in the glow of my most recent submission, I challenge you to go out on a limb today. Call a new friend, volunteer for that big assignment at work, start a new habit, end an old habit, whatever. Yeah, life is scary a lot of the time. But it feels really good when you check under the bed and realize the only thing to fear under it was the dust collected on a forgotten pair of heels. 

See what I did there? 🙂 

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