When I was a kid I begged my mom to drive me to a neighboring town so I could audition to be a tightrope walker. She refused. Hmm…wonder why? I suppose it makes sense to me now that she had reservations about me joining the circus.
I’ve identified a good deal with a tightrope walker in my writing life lately. Major life events, as well as plenty of routine day-to-day demands swirl all around me as I work hard to maintain my focus. I decided to take a step back and assess what helps me to stay in line with my target goals and what presents the greatest distraction.
The following are six strategies that have kept me committed to writing and my writing goals during times of upheaval.
When life’s a circus . . .
I remind myself to breathe fire
Writing is a proven stress relief for me. I allow this mantra to echo in my mind as a reminder of what good it’ll do me to take some time to peck out a few thousand words. It calms my nerves, slows my heart rate, and has a magical way of putting my mind at ease. Breathe fire. Let out the stress.
I make things disappear
I poof the expectation I have to make a meal everyone will enjoy every night or vamoose the lunch appointment with that individual who has mastered the art of sucking the best out of me. I’m a magician when it comes to my schedule, keeping committed to only the things of utmost priority and making all the rest disappear.
I periodically look back with respect at the elephants in line behind me
I view this in two ways. There are times I need to reflect upon just how far my discipline has gotten me. Also, looking back at the elephants behind me is another way of telling myself other authors—great masters of discipline—have done this before—climbed these steps, kicked up to great heights. I’m inspired to keep at it when I remember to look back.
I clown around
When I’m in the midst of a chaotic life change, I make sure to seek out laughter. It’s a reward. Whether plotting a novel or drafting a key scene, I find creative avenues that are sure to spark laughter in me. It’s part of clinging to my sanity. And it’s just a fun way to live.
I’m okay if a few plates fall
I’ve learned the incredible freedom that comes with granting myself some grace. Plates will topple. It’s part of it. The key is to not obsess over what’s broken on the ground and to keep my eyes on what’s amazing above. I may not reach my word count. Or a kid might not get their favorite things in their lunch bag. The world will go on spinning.
I grab on to hands that are reaching out
One thing more than any other indicates where I land on the pride meter. Am I able to grasp on to others when they’re offering help or am I stubbornly insistent on doing it all myself? Flinging myself through times of turmoil without reaching for and hanging on to the help offered is a futile undertaking, a surefire way to run myself ragged.
Life is a circus right now. I want to be intentional about what I love. I want to write through the chaos.