Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ten-Hut! Forward march!!

OK, so I'm going to get gut-level honest here.

Some of us need a good kick in the pants when it comes to our writing life. Yours truly is one of them.

I regularly struggle with the "mommy martyr" syndrome. Oh, some of you know this all too well. My life revolved around homeschooling. I convinced myself that my writing was a selfish outlet.

Only God had shown me all along the way that for whatever purpose he wanted me to write. I was ignoring part of my calling. Because no one sees my writing except my critique partners I convinced myself that it wasn't ministry. Not like teaching Sunday school...or homeschooling...or serving in my local homeschool group.

I forgot something important. God had been changing my own life through writing. Writing keeps me in check and keeps me real. Writing is therapeutic, touching my life in new ways. Showing me things about myself as I glimpse myself in the weaknesses of my characters.

As I researched and wrote a little bit, God began to bring members of a certain religious group into my life in some strange and interesting ways. I had an opportunity to share my research unexpectedly. Not only is this exciting, but it let me know even if my story is never published...God has a purpose for it.

As I listened to the ACFW convention banquet I must admit I was struggling with the green-eyed monster Pepper talked about yesterday. It was exciting to receive phone messages from the gals at Writer's Alley and really neat to be able to talk to fellow Alley Cat Sherrinda from our homes during the banquet! But I was still struggling.

My world's best supporter, AKA my husband Chris, gave me a big hug. Then he told me he was going to buy me the CDs, but he was making a bargain with me. "I want you to go after this wholeheartedly." He made me promise to write for an hour at least three times a week.

Then one of the Alley Cats upped the ante for me in a phone call. She challenged me to a 1K duel. She offered to join me and help me reach my goal!! What a gift!!

Are you failing to reach for all God is calling you to as a writer?

If you don't schedule it, it won't happen. This sounds elementary, only it wasn't to me. I somehow convinced myself that the writing time would ooze out of my busy mom schedule. Are you convincing yourself that your writing time will come like magic?

Get accountability. This is where my fellow Alley Cat has helped out. Find someone who will hold your feet to the fire. Your spouse might be a perfect choice if he is supportive of your writing time. Also having your spouse on your side sure helps make it happen if you have kids. My husband was willing to take up the slack so that I can write for a set amount of time on certain days.

Play the numbers game. Know what's realistic for you. I used to think it was great to reach 800 words in an hour, now I've discovered its not that difficult to hit 12K or 13K if I'm on a roll. The times I am writing more regularly my numbers go higher. Now, I'm not saying you have to become obsessed with the numbers...but its important to set a goal.

Small rewards. I love to light a nice smelling candle while I write, this may be TMI but since my cat's litter box is hidden in the corner of the room where I write, it can also prevent unpleasant odious distractions. I also love to have a cup of hot tea or cider and a fire going on these Fall days in the snowbelt.

Write your goals on the calendar. I can almost smell victory as I look at the numbers on the calendar. It's very encouraging.

Do you have any tips that have helped you to get motivated and finish that story? I would love to hear them.


Arieth said...

I like all this tips.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great tips, Julia! I'm usually on top of keeping writing time a priority every day. But lately I've struggled since I'm in this weird in between where I have big-picture edits to make. It's hard to know how to chunk it down into daily pieces, y'know? But I just have to be faithful to schedule the time and move forward. Thanks for the kick in the pants. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

Motivation for me: Deadlines.
And little yellow sticky notes all over my desk.
And accountability.
But I've lost some of that because I stepped away from my crit group to write more.
May need to re-think that last one.

Kelli Williams Wommack said...

thanks for sharing. I too struggle with the mommy martyr syndrome. and I homeschool one of my kiddos as well. But the calling is still there. and realizing my writing is a ministry has given me inspiration, motivation, and freedom as I trust Him in to lead me!

Joanne Sher said...

Accountability is HUGE - and I DO have it, thank the Lord. Putting the stuff "in the right order" is my issue. GREAT post!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Julia. It resonating with me. I struggle to feel like it's okay to spend some of my time writing.

You and I have some similar patterns: something hot to drink when writing, a nicely scented candle...I also like to have a glimpse to the outdoors.

I'm still in the early stages of my first wip, so I haven't found a thing to get me motivated. I have a friend (Beth, who commented above) who is hugely helpful because I know we're gonna get together every so often, and I want to have something to share with her.

This year, I'm determined to attempt to do NaNoWriMo. :) I'm plotting and planning now. I'm going to bed earlier so I can be in the habit of getting up at 0'dark hundred so I can write in the wee sma's of the morning next month. Who knows, maybe that will become a habit and I'll be able to continue from this point forward. Okay, now I'm just rambling. :)
Thanks for the very helpful pointers, Julia!

Hutt-Write Voice said...

Ever since I started to blog (March of this year) I'm always motivated to write. I've set myself a goal to post 2 or 3 times per week. Works for me! But I also like the candle idea and soft music playing is nice, too.

Julia said...

@ Aritha,
Thanks for stopping by today.

I admire you ladies who stick to a schedule well, I must admit it doesn't come naturally to me. Can't wait to hear how those edits go.


Making your own deadlines is a great idea. I'm a sticky note fan, too. And you're so right about the crit groups...they are great about giving you a kick in the pants. Mine wanted to know what would happen next so that kept me motivated.

Julia said...


I'm always happy to hear from other homeschoolers that write. So true about the freedom when we are following what we should.

@ Joanne,

That's great that you have found that accountability. I don't think I have the talent to write out of order yet ;).

@ Jeanne,

I guess you and I are in the same boat with trying to finish a novel and struggling with the mommy guilt. I have a feeling Beth is a wonderful friend to have as a new writer :) Good luck with NANOWRIMO. I don't think it would work for me right now, but I'm cheering for the rest of you.


Blogging does help, although for me I found that I was spending more time blogging at the expense of my MS. Glad its working well for you though.

Pepper said...

Oh wow ,Julia- this is sooooo good.
True- sometimes painfully true.
And you have a fabulous 'partner' in writing because she's such an encourager.

God places us right where he wants us to be in so many ways.
I was convicted by something Liz Curtis Higgs posted about at Seekerville today. Look at how well it goes along with what you wrote:
"One of the many joys of the writing process is having the Lord teach you an important truth when you least expect it. While you’re busy spinning a tale about a frightened woman giving birth to her first child or a young father facing the loss of his job, the Lord is busy teaching you about the timelessness of his Truth and the complex workings of the human heart. My love for my happy family has grown while wrestling with dysfunctional families on the page. And my appreciation for my faithful friends has deepened after struggling with characters who are lonely or unloved. I always pray my readers will grow spiritually, but that will only happen if I’m willing to grow too."

Perfect timing!
You bet :-)

Julia said...


You're right, she is a great cheerleader :) As are the rest of you Alley girls ;)

Oh boy, I LOVE what you just posted from Liz. I am writing this down. God is so good. :)

Casey said...

So glad we're in this together!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Julie I enjoyed your post today. So glad you have your super word count partner :)

Scents and words
Makes sense:)

For Music-I change the style I listen to depending on the scene. Booming crashing classical, soft meditating Christian, peppy light tunes, depends on the scene. If I can find the right style of music, my fingers sail.

The ambiance can set our writing stage:)

MaDonna Maurer said...

Great list. I liked the calendar idea. I just started doing that with my smaller projects. I'd gotten out of the habit of writing period...moving sort of got in the way. Anyway, I just started committing to doing 2-3 short pieces a month. I've written them down with deadlines...but I like your idea of writing numbers or whatever for larger projects. Thinking I will be using that for this new idea coming into my head.