Thursday Words, Uncategorized

The Chain

Hello friends and welcome to another less-than-ideal edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Friends, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I am not a perfect writer. Brave of me to reveal this publicly, I know, but I must speak my truth as I live it. Yes, its true, there are times when I find it difficult to sit down and write. Unfortunately for me, one of those situations is literally any time I am in my house.

Home Is Where The Black Hole of Motivation Is

I have a moderately stressful day job. I prefer not to get into the details, but it requires more emotional labor than the average profession. Though I love what I do, it is often a strain on my mental resources. My job is part of the reason why I absolutely have to have time every day to decompress and destress from work.

This has ultimately led to the deeply engrained mindset that my home is the place I go to not work. When I get home after a long day at my day job, plus extra curricular activities, oh and don’t forget dinner, dishes, laundry, and cleaning up that thing my dog just shredded, sitting down in my recliner, even if my laptop is right there next to me, my brain automatically switches into leisure mode. Its almost Pavlovian at this point.

However, as we all know, writing is also work. It requires mental energy, focus, and stamina — things that tend to be in short supply after, well, *gestures above* Not writing when I get home isn’t even necessarily about the myriad distractions at my disposal (although they certainly play a part), its about breaking out of the mental feedback loop of home = not work.

I’ve tried a couple of different ways to fix this. I’ve tried writing in the mornings before work (a Herculean effort for a lifelong night owl), I’ve tried carving out a space to treat as a home office (which was just a nook in my bedroom, and you can see how that would cause motivation issues), I’ve tried Pomodoros (“I’ll just work for twenty minute and then get a little five minute break for video games as a treat”).

You might be wondering to yourself, if I struggle so much to write at home how in the hell do I get any writing done at all?

Well. Truth be told, about 80% of the writing I do, blogs and drabbles included, I do at work.

Kerry, you might be saying to yourself, what??

Its true. I use the creases in my work day to write. I bring my notebook with me and leave it open on the desk next to me. When I have a few moments, I jot down a sentence or two. When I have dedicated breaks, I drabble or blog. My lunch is spent with the WordPress app open on my phone. During the commute, I’ll talk to text ideas to myself. Because I find it so difficult to write at home, I have found ways to sneak in creativity throughout my day.

This extends not just to work, however. My favorite place to write is my daughter’s gymnastics practice. I get one hour uninterrupted, with the only distraction the occasional outbreak of applause when a gymnast sticks a landing. I’ve also started working at my other daughter’s guitar lesson. I’ve even brought my notebook along to my son’s allergy shots, because we are required to wait half an hour afterward before we can leave.

Anywhere I have a few minutes, I use it. As long as I’m not at home.

If that seems not ideal to you, well, you’d be right, its not. Because, while my method works to an extent, if I find myself at home unexpectedly for any reason (like today, home with a sick kid), every last iota of production goes right in the toilet. I have to make a concerted effort to do even the bare minimum *coughlikethisblogcough* Weekends, what should be my peak writing days, are, you know, not. Bank holidays? Don’t get me started.

Druthers, Druthers Everywhere

It seems to me that in a perfect world, I would find a place I could go after my kids went to bed where I could put my earbuds in and just buckle down and write. There’s a library literally right across the street from where I live, but they close at eight. There’s a Starbucks down the street, but that closes even earlier. Deep in suburbia, it seems that there is just no good place for a writer who prefers to work in a public environment late at night.

However, part of me knows that even if such a place did exist within a reasonable distance from my home I wouldn’t actually utilize it. Because once I get home, once I sit down… its all over man.

So, what I actually need to do is just get over myself and do the work, even if there’s a basketball game on. Even if the latest Final Fantasy XIV patch just released. Even if Twitter has some amazing discourse I want to watch go down. I don’t need to push myself past my limits, of course, that’s a short road to potentially long term burnout. But, on days — like today — where I’m just sitting at home anyway, I need resist the urge to take a second nap, to open my Steam library, to make excuses not to write.

I don’t think it’ll be easy. Changing something so deeply engrained never is. But, earlier today I was standing at my sink doing some dishes and thinking about how much of a bummer it would be to let my 25-day blogging streak come to an end just because of a stupid habit of needing to preserve my home as a non-working space. So, as soon as I finished up, I walked to my computer, and I opened WordPress.

The desire to keep the chain going was enough to kick my ass into gear.

Now, if I can just start a chain for writing 3 pages a day, regardless of where I’m at, I might actually be a little less of a struggling writer.


That’s all from me this time. I’ll be home again tomorrow it looks like, so if I can keep the streak going despite the significant disruption to my routine, I’ll allow myself a little pride. See you then!

Kerry Share

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Monday Motivations

Monday Motivations; Nine of Wands

Hello friends and welcome to another worn out week of writing.

Do ever get tired of being strong? Do ever wish people would stop admiring your resilience? Do you ever feel like the trials life, the universe, or your favored deity throw at you are not a compliment to your fortitude and toughness, but just another mountain to haul your weary bones over? Do you ever wonder if it will ever pay off? Even just slightly? Just long enough to recharge your batteries?

Friends, it’s one of those days.

Actually it’s been one of those years, but it all feels like it’s coming to a head.


Lately I feel like all I do is work. I have my full time day job, plus a gig as a parent of three, often times a manuscript on deadline, any personal writing I want to do, and now an additional time consuming endeavor. I feel like every minute of my day is spoken for, from six am when my alarm goes off til midnight when I finally close my laptop. And achingly little of that time I am free to use to unclench, and even less that pays off in the way I need it to: financially.

And I know that’s tacky to say about something that is supposedly my passion, but writing is hard, y’all. Writing is work. If I were a full time writer I would 100% say every day that I love my job. But writing would still be a job.

I’ve seen dividends from this second job of mine, to be sure. And I have heard more times than I can count that if I just stay the course, I’ll see all this hard work pay off in more ways than one. But the truth of the matter is, in a creative and notoriously difficult industry to break into like writing, having one’s efforts rewarded is more like luck of the draw than guarantee.

And I’m tired. I am tired of working sixty hours a week with minimal pay off. I am tired of calculating how many words I’ll have to write tomorrow because I have to take my kid to the doctor today. I am exhausted of feeling guilty when I spend a few hours playing a video game with my partner. I am beyond frustrated that I lay down to take a nap, or catch a few hours of sleep because I can’t wrack my brain any longer just to wake up feeling worse.

Mostly, I am tired of being assured that it’s all worth it by people who know better.


And yet.

And yet.

I’m going to carry on anyway. Because, otherwise, what’s the point?


Kerry Share

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Thursday Words

I’m Angry Writing Isn’t My Actual Job

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago and never got around to posting it. I ran out of time to write something new this week, so I thought I would recycle this post. Though the immediate situation has shifted (slightly), much of the sentiment is the same.


Hello friends and welcome to another irritable edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

I’ll admit it. I’ve been out of sorts this week. My boss of seven years at my day job was recently promoted, and her new position meant she unfortunately had to leave my firm. It had just been pretty much me and her for the last three years, so with her gone the responsibility for keeping the firm running has fallen squarely on my shoulders with the assistance of other company staff who have filled in as needed.

Suffice it to say, I’m stressed.

Compounding my frustration is the fact that because I’m so mentally drained by the end of my work day, writing is exceedingly difficult. I already have precious few minutes in which to squeeze drafting (I’m presently penning this blog post from outside my daughter’s guitar lesson), and when I do get some time the last thing I want to do is tax my brain any further.

Not being able to write has sent me spiraling down that lovely rabbit hole of self-doubt and depression. My ideas aren’t good enough. I don’t have what it takes. If I were serious about writing, I would make the words come out.

I know those things aren’t true. I know that if I could just get to a place where I could financially support my family with my writing, that I do have the discipline and forbearance to make writing my actual job. But I can’t do that unless I write now and write well. But I can’t do that under present circumstances. But these circumstances aren’t likely to change unless I write.

And round and round it goes.

My frustrations and anxieties aren’t new, nor unique to me. But it’s hard not to feel angry and not a little bit jealous of all those writers out there who get to do this for a living, while I and so many others struggle for just the few words we manage to eke out in the creases.

It’s petty and ultimately pointless to nurse these sort of hurts, I know, and I won’t much longer. I just wish I knew why I lacked the get-up-and-go mentality that seems to drive so many successful writers. There are so many lovely and talented authors out there, many of whom have had to struggle through the daily life of not-writing to realize their ambitions, why not me?

Why not me?


Alright, enough of that. I’m in a better-ish place now mentally than that first week, and though my day job continues to be stressful as sin, I’ve done a bit better motivating myself to write when I come home. I’ve also returned to bringing my notebook with me to my job so that I can squeeze in some sentences in the creases. Its not much, but its keeping me engaged. Now, if I can just figure out how to not go into zombie-mode the instant I get home, I’ll be in good shape.

Until next time, my friends. May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Uncategorized

Monday Motivations; Ace of Pentacles

Hello friends and welcome to another wacky week of writing.

I am slow to change. I have always known that to be true. My longstanding anxiety and depression has more often than not driven me to find comfort in old, familiar habits, even the ones that are terrible for my long term well being.

Last night I realized that this extremely busy period at my day job is not likely to dissipate any time soon. In fact, between the labor shortage and the natural uptick in business my firm has seen over the last two years, things are probably only going to get worse.

The truth of the matter is I’ve been waiting for things to “go back to normal” before launching any long term ambitions. Oh, sure, I’ve paid lip service to getting back into my writing habit, and I definitely took a major leap last year when I fell into my freelancing gig. But, if I’m being honest, I unintentionally cornered myself into a holding pattern these last twelve months, by waiting for a moment in time that will likely never come.

I’ve been stuck in a state of inertia, but last night’s realization forced me to ask myself whether I would actually be happy if things went back to the way they were.

And the answer is no. I don’t want to go back. I want to move forward. And that’s this week’s motivation.

Kerry Share

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Uncategorized

Monday Motivations; Just Keep Swimming

Hello friends. Last week was another exceedingly busy one at my day job and this one is looking only marginally better.

I don’t like to talk about my work too much, mostly because there’s an element of privacy involved and because, though my specific job is administrative and desk bound, the industry in which I work can sometimes off put people when I talk about it like, well, a job. Suffice it to say it is health care adjacent and, as such during this pandemic, busy. The burnout among industry professionals has been very real and the emotional toll for those of us left has been quite taxing. I love my job. I do. But I do not love the position my extremely understaffed firm has been left in.

Last week, even though I had just come back from vacation, I found myself rather quickly short of patience and goodwill thanks to the overall vibe of negativity in the building. We none of us had the time to be especially considerate of each other as we went about our respective duties, some of which strayed far beyond our original job description. By Tuesday I had already begun to feel as though I had had no time off at all.

It was that morning that I made a conscious choice. Although my coworkers were stressed and even at times taking that stress out on me, I realized that responding in kind would help no one. No matter how justified I may have felt (or even been) to react negatively, it would in no way change the situation we were all faced with but would simply serve to sour the mood further. So, I decided that no matter the difficulties I faced, I would simply approach what at times felt like an insurmountable and never ending list of tasks with a positive attitude.

It sounds so simple and even a little woo woo, especially to someone who’s brain chemistry so often betrays them, but… it worked. Though each day proved just as stressful and frantic as the last, by simply refusing to let the negativity into my heart, at the end of the day I just felt better. Tired, certainly, and weary to face it again the next day, but less inclined to brood and bitch about that which was outside of my control. And with the extra mental space that cleared for me, I was able to spend my off duty hours actually relaxing rather than working myself up in anticipation of another slog.

How does this all relate to writing? Well, truthfully, it doesn’t. But as my freelancing hiatus is due to expire on Friday, meaning a lot less free time and a lot more work, I expect this pointedly positive outlook to be more important than ever going forward. I don’t imagine it will be easy, but it will be necessary.

Here’s hoping I have it in me.

Kerry Share

Uncategorized

Monday Motivations; Never Not Working

Hello friends! I’ve been absent these last two weeks thanks first to being absolutely slammed at my day job, and second to a planned and much needed vacation. The fall and winter seasons always tend to be the busiest for me both at work and in writing, so a break from both was just the respite I needed to get my mind right for the blitz.

But I’m back now and thinking about that shampoo commercial with Troy Polamalu and Patrick Mahomes. You know the one. More specifically, I’m ruminating on its signature phrase: never not working.

I had a lot of downtime this last month, the most I’ve had since (still miraculously, to me) landing my freelancing gig in April. And while I definitely needed a bit of a breather, I still found myself feeling… restless. Itchy. Like I needed to be doing something. Writing, preferably. Drafting, even more specifically.

As someone who has struggled a lot as an adult with anxiety and depression, who slips all too easily in time wasting but oh so comfortable activities and bad habits, the desire to use my limited free time to work came as something of a surprise to me, but a welcome one at that. It has long been a goal of mine, impossible it though had seemed at times, to turn that itchy part in my brain that makes me write into a career, yet my worst nature to deprioritize that which is not strictly necessary in my day to day life has forestalled meaningful progress toward that goal for as far back as I can remember.

Yet, the distinctly unsettled experience I have been — ahem — enjoying this last month tells me that maybe I am ready to take that step. To think of writing not as a hobby or a passion project, but as a job that deserves to be taken every bit as seriously as my 9 to 5. And if that is the case I need to prepare myself for the hustle. Because if I’ve learned anything about professional writers, freelancers, self-published, and agented a like, it’s that they are Never Not Working.

So today, that’s my motivation.

Speaking of which, time to get back to it. Until next time!

Kerry Share

Uncategorized

Writing with a Day Job

Manuscript News

It took me a while to really get back on the wagon with writing. Even though I promised myself I would start up again on January 2nd, I didn’t actually get any words down until the 5th. Without the enthusiasm of a fresh start or the punishing schedule of NaNo to have to adhere to, I found it all too easy to make excuses not to write (some of which is the topic of today’s post, see below).

Honestly, I think I was a little bit nervous about burning myself out again. NaNo was pretty brutal for me, and had the unintended side effect of getting me to believe that I had to do five pages a day for it to count as progress. When I realized I could just do five hundred words and be done for the day, I felt the cloud kind of lift.

While I do think I need some of the more rigorous writing workouts to keep me on schedule (a self-imposed, completely arbitrary schedule), I wasn’t ready to jump into the deep end quite yet. So, for now, I’m content with a page a day. And when I’m ready, I’m gonna run for the hills again.


The Weekly Struggle

work work work

Unless you’re lucky enough to write professionally as a full-time career, you probably have a day job, so I hope many of you can relate.

Let’s all agree right now: writing when you have a full time day job can be really, really hard.

Winter is the busy season in my industry, to the point where my company actually has a vacation day blackout between November-January. This year, my office had it’s busiest November/December since I’ve been in this job (we’re on pace for a similar January, something I’m very excited about).

The sum effect of all this has been a great deal of take home stress. This was a large part of why I decided to take a short writing hiatus last month, and I think it’s the entire reason why I have so little energy for writing at the end of the day even now that the holidays (the other motivation for my hiatus) are over.

Stress isn’t the only thing throwing off my groove either. Before things picked up at the day job, I was able to sneak in one or two hundred words on my breaks, more on my lunch. Since I’ve been pretty much working through those, I’ve lost some of my most productive pockets of time, leaving me with pretty much just the time between my kids getting in bed and when I finally faceplant into my own bed. Yesterday, a particularly hard one at work, that time was approximately 37 seconds.

kiki-falls-unto-the-bed-tired-in-kikis-delivery-service-gif

 

Mine is not a unique situation. We all, at some point, have to find a work-writing balance that works for us, and one person’s method might not be helpful to someone, or maybe even anyone, else. I’m still trying to find that midpoint. I’m also trying to determine where Not Writing stops being laziness and becomes self care, and vise versa. Coming off my hiatus, which I needed, and still struggling to write isn’t something I had anticipated.

Best I can do, for now, is try to take these difficult times, these stressful work days, and turn them into motivation to complete my novel so that one day I can quit my effing job.


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m finishing up my semi-yearly reread of my favorite book of all time, Pride and Prejudice. I know one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read a bunch of new books, and I did sign up for a Book Bub account pursuant to that, but I really needed old faithful last week with all that was going on. I’ve got a couple of fantasy novels lined up, so I’ll have something more interesting next week, I promise.

What are you all reading, and, more importantly, which Bennett sister are you?


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