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Write the next thing.

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When I started this blog, I wanted to be funny and honest without complaining or being repetitive. Only I’m not a good enough writer to be funny all the time, and it’s hard not to sound repetitive when you have little children because they do the same things every day. When life is difficult I tend to just avoid blogging because being honest feels like complaining and staying light and positive feels dishonest. Blogging is supposed to be a fun way to process life and keep my writing skills sharp. It seems narcissistic to feel stressed out about blogging, as if my little life were so important that I owe it to the masses to give regular updates on my life. But I enjoy writing so to pass it off as a narcissistic pastime also feels unfair. I’ve gone around and around about these things and have never come up with a satisfactory conclusion.

The truth is, life is a mix of ups and downs. I could stay positive all the time, but that would eventually start to sound like bragging. The last thing I want to do is make you think I don’t have any problems. But if I tried so hard to keep it real that I only told you about the struggles, then I’d just sound like another whining Mommy-blogger. There’s enough of those already. And honestly, sometimes I love to write, but other times I loathe it. And when I loathe it I usually just avoid it altogether, but that’s not very fair to me. No one keeps their writing skills sharp just by thinking about writing. At some point I have to sit down and write something, which I’ll probably hate and want to delete. I try not to delete things when I’m in that mood, but sometimes I don’t have enough willpower–then into the trash it goes.

The last couple of weeks has been a mix of sickness, construction, stress, puppet shows, playgrounds, riding toys, volleyball games, sunshine, rainstorms, first steps, first dry panties, long days, holidays, exhaustion, guilt, anxiety, irritation, repentance, prayer, and thankfulness. When life is overwhelming, I’ll tell myself to just “do the next thing.” Maybe I should start giving myself that advice when I don’t feel like putting words on paper: “Write the next thing.” And then edit and re-edit that thing. Because chances are whatever I forced out in the first place was terrible.


I’m Not Good at Multitasking

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And that’s why I haven’t been blogging more often. I have a writing assignment that’s due at the beginning of July, and I’m trying to be a good girl and not put it off until the last minute. But then every time I sit at the computer to write I feel obligated to work on that instead of putting something fun on my blog. Not that writing assignments aren’t fun. Writing for money is always fun. It’s great to get paid to do what you love. Unfortunately for me, I love English and not something more lucrative such as military rocket science engineering computer programming technologies.

The Writer’s Process

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3 months out: Assignment is given. “Yes! I’m perfect for this piece! I’m so thrilled that I can do what I love and get paid for it too!”

2 1/2 months out: “I have so many ideas! I’m just going to read these books and articles so I can generate even more ideas!”

2 months out: Sit down at the computer with coffee in hand to start writing. “This is so relaxing!” Two paragraphs later: “I’ve been so productive!” Quit while euphoric feelings are still present.

1 1/2 months out: “I think I’m overthinking this. I don’t know where to begin.” Reread last two paragraphs written. You hate them. Force yourself not to delete them in case you like them again tomorrow, and call it a day.

1 month out: Oh geez. I really need to get started on this or I’ll never finish in time. Write two more paragraphs and call it a day. You wouldn’t want your writing to feel forced.

1 day before assignment is due: Curl up in fetal position. Start chewing your hair, sucking  your thumb, and bawling into the carpet. “Why did I ever take this assignment?! I’m completely useless! No one will ever pay me to do anything ever again! I despise myself and my pseudo-intellectualism!”

Due date: Turn in finished product. Editor tells you it looks good. Go take a nap, and call a mental health professional in the morning. Scratch that, you can’t afford a mental health professional. You WRITE for a living.

The moral of the story? As Tina Fey put it in Bossypants, “[Don’t be] too precious about your writing” (p. 123).


First Post

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This blog is for everyone who said, “I miss reading your blog!” (Hi, Mom!) “I love your writing,” (You’re too kind, Hubby) and even “You should write a book” (Sorry, Ashley, it’s not a book!). It’s also because somewhere along the way I said, “I want to start writing more.”

But let’s face it: anytime you consider putting your thoughts out there for the world to see (and criticize) it’s scary. I hemmed and hawed and came up with dozens of excuses why I couldn’t blog. Everything from “I don’t have time” to “I don’t know how to use WordPress.” The first seemed like a decent excuse, but if I took half the time I wasted on Facebook and put it towards writing then I could probably pen the next great American novel within the year. And the second excuse? Trying to pass myself off as a computer illiterate baby boomer isn’t my style.

Most recently, I’ve been telling myself that I couldn’t get started until I had an idea for a really great first post. I figured that the first post would set the tone for the rest of the blog, and therefore if it wasn’t good, then I’d be destined to remain another dorky wannabe who was just narcissistic enough to think they had something worth reading. Can you think of a harsher buzzkill? I finally decided to stop being so mean to myself and jump in feet first. And that’s how I got here, writing a cop out post–a post about a post, writing about writing. Maybe it’s not the great American novel,  but hey, things can only look up from here.