Wednesday, December 3, 2014

6 Things Writing Has Taught Me about Life

I always find it a little crazy when life imitates my art. An event will play out and I’ll think, Hey, I wrote about that years ago.

Know what else is crazy in the coolest of ways? How I’ve learned things in my career as a writer that have spilled valuable insights over into the rest of my life.
Here are just a few…

Edit as I go
I used to be a yeller. Yep, catch me in the midst of a fight fifteen years ago and I had no qualms about slinging shouts. Not anymore. I’ve grown to see how ineffective yelling is. And as with writing and understanding the importance of editing, I like how I’m able to change as I grow.

Help with letting go
I have three girls. They started out as babies. Sort of how it works, doesn’t it? But they’re rapidly aging. And there’s nothing I can do to slow down the process.

When I publish a book I feel like I hand the story baton to my readers. Or as though I send the novel off like pushing a toy boat on a windy day across rippling waters. I let go.
I’ve tapped into this same mindset at certain moments as a parent. Thanks writing. I owe you for your help with this one.

Remaining open to learning & change
In case you’ve been asleep for the past ten years, a lot has changed in the publishing industry. Independent publishing no longer has the reek of Limburger cheese. In fact, it’s widely respected when done with great consideration, knowledge, and planning.

Newsflash: I’m not always going to be right as a parent. Truth be told, I get it wrong about 78% of the time. You’re thinking why on earth would I share this, aren’t you? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I’m passionate about learning, about paying attention, and about riding the waves as a mom and member of society. I want to make a great impact with the little time I have here. In order to do that, I must be receptive to what works. And what doesn’t.

Managing expectations
I used to think every holiday had to materialize like a Normal Rockwell painting. In other words I wanted the perfect life. Somewhere along the way I realized that’s a farce. (My kids would laugh if I read that word out loud. Oh, language.) Things get messy. Feelings get hurt. Clothes live on my bedroom floor. Instead of promising myself every morning I’ll clean the entire house, tackle 50 pages of my novel, and write Congress letters about everything that’s troubling me, I get real.

As a writer I know how much time it takes to build an audience—to find my peeps. I’ve learned how to apply this throughout the rest of my life, mindful not to set myself up for disappointment unnecessarily.

Be brave & Take risks
Sneaking two in one, eh? Why yes, yes I am. Takes a certain kind of bravery to do that. Anyway, rejection is the Mr. Miyagi of publishing. It keeps you humble, and challenges your degree of determination. After I endure a humbling event related to my writing, I have a tendency to wax on, then wax off. I jump back up with hands raised, ready to fight.

I can’t take credit for why I’m so stubbornly committed. Part of my wiring perhaps.
Love when that wiring is connected to other areas of passion in my life like my marriage, and parenting.

Spread the love
I used to think writing had to be a solitary act. Well, in a way it is. But in so many beautiful ways it’s fanned out for me. I’m in touch with hundreds of other writers who are devoted to encouraging one another. I meet these writers at conferences and online and I can’t tell you how deep my gratitude goes for them.
Contrasting what I thought my path would be as a writer hunkered in, startled by sounds, and on the edge of agoraphobia to instead readily enjoying the many blessings of connecting with fellow writers, reminds me to express gratitude in every area of my life. I’m thankful for my friends who are vastly different than me. I’m challenged to exude love even when it’s difficult because so very much love has been given to me.

There you have it. Six ways being a writer has seeped into my non-writing life.
Do you feel the overflow of your career spilling into who you are outside of work?

 

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