I received the kindest text from a dear friend the other day. One of those texts that you wish you could frame and hang on a wall to read over and over again.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you for MONTHS how proud I am of you and your awesome book-ness and being an Author. Capital A, Author. Like Emily Dickinson, or Charlotte Bronte, or Mary Wollenstonecraft. Minus the crippling insanity, of course. Or maybe with a touch of insanity…it’s all good.”
This text came through at a moment of true insanity, of which I will spare you all the details. I’ll just say that it involved a toddler, an exposed diaper, and flinging excrement.
If that doesn’t define insanity, then…
That well-timed text brought encouragement in more ways than one. Besides simply making me smile after a harrowing mothering experience, it also boosted my confidence at a time when I feel like I’m wavering under the strain of this writerly life.
No one tells you that after you finish a book, all the words flee from your brain for a time. Since I turned my second manuscript in to the publisher in September, I’ve felt completely wordless. Everything I type feels silly, boring, and stale. I’m just out of words.
After speaking with a number of writer friends, however, I’ve come to the realization that this is totally normal. I’m not alone in my word fatigue – it’s a real thing.
I’ve wondered in the last few months what it must have been like to be an author back in the days before social media dictated the industry. Writers were always a bit mysterious back then, weren’t they?
By nature, most writers are introverted and reclusive, so the anonymity of writing works to their benefit. Only nowadays, one can no longer be reclusive as a writer, and even the introverted has to push herself beyond the boundaries of comfort and engage with the masses.
Social media demands that writers stay out there, constantly reminding the people that they can write. There’s no time for any of us to become insane because we can’t hide behind the walls of our cabins in the woods long enough to give in to insanity.
Okay, so most writers don’t have cabins in the woods. Except for maybe Stephen King, but he’s always been a touch insane, so he doesn’t count.
In this digital age, with an emphasis on “platform building”, however, one can feel quite insane in her efforts to stay current and fresh, and to keep writing. So what is to be done? Here are a three quick tips:
1.) Simply refuse to give in
I decided some time ago, after spending several years making myself blog every day even when I had nothing to say, that I wouldn’t write unless it was authentic. At least not publicly.
Behind the scenes, I do write most every day. But writing for public consumption has changed for me. Pushing content out into the world just so people remember me as a writer isn’t really to my benefit, especially if I end up pushing bad writing out.
I’d rather keep it locked up, and retreat into my metaphorical cabin in the woods, than shoot meaningless words out into an already oversaturated market.
2.) Give yourself some space to breath
Writing is an intense practice. It demands all you have mentally, and sometimes physically. It’s emotionally draining, sending you up and down a roller coaster of euphoria and despair as you try to finish your project. Sometimes, you just need to take a break and breath a little.
And you need to know that’s okay.
3.) You don’t suck
I’ve watched this (poor quality) clip from the show Mike and Molly several times, and I cannot stop laughing, because there’s so much truth behind the humor.
What you do, writer, is hard. You don’t suck, and neither does your writing. You’re just wrestling with words, and it’s an esoteric battle that you’re forced to fight in front of the world. So keep swinging, and cut yourself some slack. Don’t set the manuscript on fire just yet.
If the words aren’t flowing, it’s okay. They’ll come again. New stories will flood your mind. A new message will begin to take shape again when you allow yourself a little time to escape.
There’s a reason most writers are reclusive. It’s easier to write in the silence. But there’s also a reason that writers of old were known to be insane – all that alone time fighting battles with words, and riding the emotional roller coaster in seclusion, is bound to make you a tiny bit crazy.
But then so are children, so the truth is I’m probably destined to end up going insane at some point, no matter what.
It’s 5:30, and I am up early, tapping away at my computer long before the sun rises. This is the only time my house is quiet, but it’s grown increasingly difficult for me to get up at this time, because when my house is quiet I WANT TO SLEEP!
We’ve officially been in the crazy time of life for a couple of years now, but I feel like it’s all starting to swirl together and crash on top of me. Between soccer and gymnastics, homeschool and middle school, and the active (dare I say ornery?) toddler in the midst of it all, most days I barely have time to catch my breath.
We jump from one activity to the next, and we don’t stop jumping until the house silences again at night, and I look around and wonder how on earth it’s already bedtime again, and have I had any water today? What about any real food? Did I eat an actual meal, or simply graze the half eaten plates of the tiny people all day?
I CANNOT REMEMBER!
When we brought our first born home from the hospital, I felt the confidence that only comes from inexperience. I immediately got him on a schedule, and felt such pride at my Mom-ing abilities.
Yes – I just used “Mom” as a verb. It’s the most active thing a woman could do, so it only makes sense. Frankly, I can’t believe we haven’t officially made it a verb before now.
When Sloan was around 18 months old, I remember noticing the first chink in my mom armor. My angelic little toe-headed cherub didn’t seem to want to follow my directions anymore. He had a will, a strong one, and it was all his own. It was at this point that I lamented my loss of daily freedoms.
“I’m just so busy!” I wailed to my husband one evening after a particularly rough day of Mom-ing. “The only free time I have are the three hours he’s sleeping in the afternoon, and then the rest of the day I’m at his beck and call.”
I think back to that younger version of me – sweet little fresh-faced girl who felt certain her life was being swallowed up by her baby. I want to give her a hug…and maybe a little chocolate. I want to whisper in her ear that she will never have so much time to herself again.
It is now twelve years, and three more babies later. Gone are those three hours stretches of alone time in the afternoons. Gone are the early bedtimes and precious evenings alone with my husband. This house is filled with noise and chaos. It’s always dirty.
I eek out slivers of stolen moments here and there throughout the day. I grossly underestimate how much I can actually accomplish on a daily basis, and am constantly overcommitting myself, because I still forget that Mom-ing four kids takes every waking moment of the day.
In the midst of it all, I wonder if I’m doing okay. Did I do the right thing yesterday? Did I feed them any vegetables? Fruit? Meat? Tell me they didn’t just eat bread and candy.
Mom-ing is hard.
Most days I’m sort of feeling my way through the dark, but I’ve convinced myself of one very important thing:
At the end of the day, if I can tally up a few shared moments of laughter, and obvious displays of love, then I did alright.
Last week, I took the kids to the beach during a day off school. As we made our way down the road that leads to our favorite stretch of sand, Sloan put on Lacrae, rolled down the windows, and messed with the sound settings until he had the bass pumped at full volume.
Shrieks of delighted laughter floated up and out of my pumpin’ minivan as we literally rattled the windows of the cars next to us. The kids rapped and I laughed, and people definitely stared, but who cares. Because I was Mom-ing the heck out of that one moment.
Moms, you’re feeling buried under the weight of it all. I know that you are. Maybe some of you have some silence built into your days as kids go to school, or young ones take naps. Or maybe, like me, the only silence you’re offered is in the dark hours of the early mornings.
Either way, I know it’s a lot. Mom-ing takes all of us, and so I want you to know that I see you, and I offer this encouragement:
Roll down the windows of your (smokin’ hot) minivan. Fling open the doors of your home, and put on a little Lecrae. Rattle the windows with your pumping bass, and let the world know that despite the insanity and never ending to-do list, you are Mom-ing the heck out of life.
[Tweet “Pump the bass, and let the world know you’re Mom-ing the heck out of this life. #momlikeaboss”]
Find moments of each day for laughter, and dole out as many hugs and kisses as you’re allowed. And when your head finally hits the pillow at the end of the day, whisper into the blessed silence, “I Mom’ed like a boss today.”
Because you did.
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