What are your dreams?
I daydream about being a successful published author. I even have half a book written — or a quarter of a book, or an eighth of a book, or no book at all, depending on how critical I’m feeling of myself and the worth of what’s already been written.
The trouble with this dream, however, is that there is no immediate compensation for my time. I can’t get a job in an office as a “hopeful author,” and expect any sort of wage. Nobody would take me seriously if I suggested such a thing. And because I get sucked into the values of our world, that makes it incredibly difficult for me to take myself seriously.
Any time spent in pursuit of this dream is time when the chores don’t get done, the money doesn’t get made, the emails go unanswered and the children don’t get attention. It’s very easy to push my writing time to the bottom of the laundry basket. And we all know folding laundry is the worst, so I’m not going to get around to folding that beastly pile of clothes for a couple days. Then by the time I reach the poor, neglected writing time sitting lonely in the empty basket, it’s too late. The creativity is gone; the time has disappeared.
For the last several years, I’ve had different at-home jobs, and I have always set aside my children’s nap time as my work time. I spend that time at the computer, but I rarely use it to write for myself or for my book. That time is most often spent paying bills, answering emails or doing research and writing for the writing job I do have that actually pays me money.
The checklist just seems more important. Balancing the checkbook is something I can finish, check off my list and be immediately better off because I did it. Tracking down a lead for an article is something that will help me get to the next step in my assignments. But writing something that may or may not be good, something that may or may not make it to my undetermined finished product is not something that has immediate look-what-I-did-to-improve-our-lives-today benefits. So down to the bottom of the laundry basket it goes.
Occasionally, I will pull up a blank Word document, and bang out a chapter, but more often than not, I allow myself to work on anything and everything until my time for my dream is gone. And I never feel too bad, because, hey — I actually accomplished a lot.
But then I read an article called The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do that says if you want to be a real writer, you need to write. (Duh.) You need to do it every day; you can’t expect your craft to develop unless you practice. This applies to everything, of course. If you want to be a painter, you need to paint every day. If you want to be a musician, you need to practice every day.
I thought it was such a great idea when I read it, and decided it would be my New Year’s resolution. See what I did there? I pushed my dream even further away. “Oh, I’ll start that a month or so from now.” Sure, that makes sense — if I never want to accomplish what I’ve set out to accomplish.
When I realized I wasn’t taking my dream seriously — yet again — I sat down and wrote. And then I made a plan: At least one hour a day during the week will be devoted to my chosen and beloved craft — either here on the blog or on my blank Word documents. This is now my job — my career. Everything else I used to do during this time is secondary. The boss is me, and I run a tight ship with strict deadlines.
No payment until I produce something, of course, but I’m still expected to clock in and out. Labor laws can’t help me, and I can’t unionize. Unfair? Maybe. But I have a freezer stocked full of chocolate chips. I’ll be OK.
– If you’re at all like me, you should join me in my New Year’s resolution that actually started in November. Designate a certain amount of time each week to your craft. I’d love to be inspired by what you do and how you grow as you take yourself more seriously. Send me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org –