Life Lessons · This Writer's Life · Writing

Having a Writing Plan.

Giving up work to write full-time I think is every writer’s dream come true. The thought of simply writing what we want to write in whatever hours that suits us, sounds appealing, but that’s far from the reality. I’ve found out the hard way that writing takes a lot more time and energy than what we’ve all been led to believe.

A few months after I got married, I handed in my notice to my employer of almost ten years. It was a decision that was not made lightly, but one I knew had to be made. I had tired of my job and as far as I could see there was no future for me there. It was time I moved on to something different.

Excited by the prospect of fulfilling the writing dream of writing full time, I gathered enough notebooks and pens to last me a good while. I spent time making sure the computer had enough space to accommodate my works, and living in the Blue Mountains at the time, I had an inspiring view of the Grose Valley from my balcony. I was in a perfect situation in which to write.

With so much time on my hands, I began to squander it. Projects I had eagerly begun were tossed aside for the next project, only to see the process repeated. After these ‘failures’, doubts began to fester until I dreaded starting anything new and spent less time writing altogether. It was about this time that my husband landed a job in the country, and we relocated, giving me the chance to have some casual work within the same department. Almost two years later, I became pregnant with my first child. Writing during this time was very much on the back-burner.

Looking back, I realise that although I wanted to write, that period in my life was not the time; clearly I was not ready. Also I did not have a plan. It may sound simple, but in my eagerness, I had no idea where I going. Before handing in my resignation, I should have put more thought into what exactly I was going to do, have some kind of back up plan, consider finances, etc.

These days, I’m working to two different pieces of advice: plan your work, work your plan and finish what you started. Planning ahead can save you a lot of time and effort. It also allows you to focus on the task ahead and gives you the confidence you need to reach those goals.

Have you ever stopped working to pursue writing full-time and it didn’t work out? Do you feel guilty when you squander your time rather than write? Do you have any writing projects that are incomplete? 

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Images courtesy of Pixabay

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Life Lessons · Up Close & Personal · Writing

Are You Hiding Your Ambition?

hidden door

In another life, I spent close to ten years doing office work. Of-course looking back on it now it was more for the social aspect, rather than the work itself that I miss (the downside of the writers’ life is that it can be a lonely profession).

I was good at my job and within my first year at work, my supervisor saw my potential and I had progressed from typist to admin assistant. In later years I would go on to be head hunted by two managers and rather than accept the chance of promotion, I turned them both down. I was afraid of change and quite happy to stay in my ‘comfort zone’. When later asked what I wanted to do job wise within the office, I had no real answer.

One co-worker said something to me once that I have never forgotten: ‘You’re wasted in this place’. It wasn’t that I did not have the opportunities to progress; it’s just that I didn’t want to. I had no ambition to work my way up the corporate ladder. I had no intention of spending the rest of my life in an office job. And that’s exactly what it was – a job. I brought home some money every fortnight, which was great, but I was stuck doing something I didn’t want to do.

Office Motivation

It is the fortunate ones that manage to be in a job that they love. I have to admit that in the beginning of my employment years, I really enjoyed my job. I was learning something new all the time, yet in those last few years, things had become stale. I was bored; I wanted out.

One of the things that kept me sane was that throughout those years, I continued to write. On really slow days in the office, I would even bring some of my writing to work with me and work on a piece there (well, I guess technically speaking, I was working on something). I remained being creative for I was drawing as well as writing. I would share such pieces with close co-workers – one piece was read before I submitted it to a women’s magazine (and when I didn’t hear anything, I guess it was my first rejection).

Certainly back then I was much younger and had made mistakes, however, looking back on it all now, I managed to learn the following things:-

  1. Sometimes you really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and
  2. I wanted to be a writer above everything else.

Those years were not entirely wasted; I was practising my craft, doing writing courses via correspondence (those prehistoric days before the internet), and experimenting with writing in different genres. Back then, I clearly wasn’t ready to send my work out into the world, yet I knew that to have my work published was the ultimate goal. Sometimes what we long for can take a bit of time – after all, they do say good things come to those who wait.

Are you working towards your ‘dream job’ while working in another? Are you stuck in a job you don’t like? What do you do to get out of your ‘comfort zone’? Are you making the most of your time as a ‘pre-published’ author?

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and never miss a post. You can also follow me on Twitter and Google+. You can also find me on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Life Lessons · Up Close & Personal · Writing

Learning to Let Go.

Girl jumping

Years ago when both my children started school, it was an emotional time for me. I didn’t want to be one of those clingy, emotional mothers that couldn’t be parted from their child, but yes, I caved in. As a mother I would watch anxiously as the hours ticked by slowly, yet as a writer I relished in the peace and quiet.

Now in 2015, another adjustment needs to be made within my family dynamics. My son has finished school and will undertake study in the same town where my husband lives and works during the week – 95 kilometres (59 miles) away. Although he will be staying with my husband, my son will be ‘leaving the nest’ to some degree. This will take some getting used to, but in order for my son to grow and gain independence, I have to learn to let go.

As I need to learn to let go of my children, so too, must I learn to let go of my writing. For me, 2015 will be a year where I must learn ‘to ship’ as the saying goes. The fear of putting my work out into the world needs to be addressed if I want to be published (which of-course, I do).

During all those years of studying at University, writing essays taught me two things; that

  1. Not everyone is going to like what you write or agree with your opinion – it’s a matter of personal taste.
  2. No matter how many times you go over your work, it will never truly be ‘perfect’.

Yes, our writing does feel personal; a part of us is put out into the world and we long for acceptance. Yet if we continually keep our writing away from others, in order to prevent ourselves from getting hurt, we can never really grow as writers and our message will never be heard. Sometimes what we really fear is fear itself. It’s time to be brave and just let go.

What are your goals for 2015? Have you learnt to let go of your writing? How did you overcome your fear of submitting your work? Have you discovered it’s not a bad as you thought?

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and never miss a post. You can also follow me on Twitter and Google+. You can also find me on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Life Lessons · This Writer's Life · Writing

Being a Writer: A Leap of Faith.

A Leap of Faith

Every once in a while, when my family and I visit Canberra, we go to Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. One of the exhibits is a slide where you are required to let go of a metal bar, allowing yourself to freefall down the slide. Every time I position myself for that drop, sitting on the edge and looking down what is ahead of me, fear tightens its grip. It’s a similar situation when change occurs in your life.

In October 2013, I completed several years of University study; a change was in the air. Then only a few short weeks ago, I received notification that I was unsuccessful in obtaining casual work at my previous employer. As I typed up a couple of emails, making my referees aware of this situation, there were tears in my eyes. Feeling foolish, I could not understand why that was happening. I had come to realise that that particular phase in my life had come to an end. It wasn’t until a few short days later that I compared it to a rejection letter – something I was going to have to get used to in the writing world. Yet, I also began to see the bigger picture. That letter also signified another push for change. Two significant parts of my life were now over and slowly giving me the gentle nudge I needed to begin my writing journey. The message was now clear; the dream of writing for a living – a dream I have had since I was ten years old – could now become a reality.

Letting go of the bar to go down the slide at Questacon is an exhilarating experience. Like being in the front carriage of a roller coaster, it’s a lot of fun. Change can be like that too, but we won’t know unless we allow ourselves to freefall and take a leap of faith.

Have you ever felt circumstances conspired to give you the push you needed for change? Do you allow fear to stop you from reaching your goals? How do you react to change?

Image by Debbie Johansson

Life Lessons · This Writer's Life · Writing

One of Life’s Little Detours.

Destinationroad smallerA few years ago, my family and I made the long drive to attend my husband’s graduation.  Everything was organised, the journey mapped out; I knew where I was going.  I was so focused upon the destination that when my husband suggested we make a slight detour, I became annoyed.  My husband wanted us to see a particular rainforest that he had visited once before on one of his University trips.  It would add more time to get where we needed to go.  Somewhat reluctantly I agreed, not knowing, when, if ever, we’d get the opportunity again.

The scenic detour took us up long, winding hills, where our surroundings were becoming densely wooded, colder and wetter.  The further up we drove, the more surreal the situation had become.  Below was a clear, sunny autumn in this part of Australia, and when we finally reached the top, it had suddenly become a wet winter’s day.  Stepping out of the car we quickly found ourselves cold, with moisture dripping off our hair and down our noses.  The further we walked into the bush, I really didn’t care – we had walked into a fantasy land.  I felt like a child once again, my imagination took hold and I was obsessed with taking numerous photos.  My husband knew I would like it and getting back into the car, I was reluctant to leave.

For a short time I had taken my eyes off the destination and enjoyed the journey.  Sure, it’s good to be focused on what we want to achieve in life, but sometimes we can become a victim of tunnel vision, that we miss what else life has to offer us along the way.  The journey can take us onto different paths and new situations, and by doing so, we learn and grow.  By taking the occasional detour, it can help make our destination better, stronger and much more rewarding.

Are you a victim of tunnel vision? What detours have you taken towards your goals?  Have they helped you in any way?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

Life Lessons · Up Close & Personal · Writing

The Winds of Change.

timechangesWith the end of my University studies, it brings about a wind of change. While one door closes, another door opens.  Finally escaping those shackles may see a new freedom, but it also brings with it a lot of responsibility.  As I’ve always wanted to write, and my husband telling me that now is the time to do so, I’m not only feeling a bit lost, but also alone.

I’ve never been good at change. When I was a kid I would get extremely nervous whenever I was placed in new situations. I would have great plans to undertake something different with my life, but then I would think about it for too long; weigh the pros and cons, and then abandon the idea altogether. I was afraid of doing something that was different with my life and as a result I would fail to make any real progress.

Late last year saw a dramatic change in my life; my husband got a job in a town about 95 kilometres (59 miles) away from home. Rather than travel the distance every day, he decided to stay there during the week and come home for the weekends.  I had not anticipated seeing myself as a single mother or weekend wife. This was going to be a real challenge; a change in my life that I didn’t dare think about, and yet, strangely that is exactly what got me through the whole ordeal during those early months. I refused to think about the situation and just got on with what needed to be done. There is an element of truth in Nike’s tagline of ‘Just Do It’; you just do what you have to do.  I found the resolve to keep on going, and now over twelve months later in the same situation, I’m still using it.

Since then, I’ve come to learn that:-

  1. We’re stronger than we think we are.
  2. Being alone is not always a bad thing – in fact, it makes us more independent.
  3. If we’re not changing, we’re not growing.

There’s no point in worrying, especially regarding those things that are out of our control. What we can control is our attitude and our approach, one day at a time.

Are you afraid of change? Did you ever find yourself having to rely upon your inner strength? What situation have you been in that made you feel alone? Did you find yourself in a situation where you’re now glad you’ve gained your independence?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

Life Lessons · This Writer's Life · Writing

Lost & Found: A Writer’s Journey.

McCubbin's Lost smallestIt has taken seven years of hard work, headaches, and sometimes almost complete abandonment, but I have finally completed my University studies.  Some weeks after I finished my last assignment, my elation was hampered by doubts and confusion.  Not used to being idle, I felt lost.

I can be pretty hopeless when it comes to a sense of direction.  I can’t venture into unknown territory without a map, which is why I always need my husband to read the maps while I drive.

Some years back, I drove home alone after visiting my sister’s place in a suburb in southern Sydney.  After a few visits, I knew the route home, but on this particular day I must have been overly confident, for I had taken a wrong turn.  I had detoured into unfamiliar territory and felt instant panic.  I tried to keep as close to the highway as possible, knowing this was the only way I could get back home.  I pulled over to the side of the road and consulted the street directory, but this didn’t help as I could not locate any street signs, let alone read them.  Now I knew how Dorothy felt in the Wizard of Oz; being lost can be a frightening experience.  I saw some people walking on the path nearby and was faced with a dilemma.  Which fear was greater – being lost or talking to strangers?  I chose the former and asked these people directions that would see me safely on my way home again.

From this experience, I came to realise three important things:-

  1.  The future is full of uncertainties.
  2.  Have a plan.
  3. It’s alright to ask for help.

So now, after finishing my studies, my husband asked me what I was going to do.  I reverted back to my favourite childhood saying: ‘I don’t know’.  Without hesitation, my husband calmly replied ‘You’ve always wanted to write; now’s your time to do it’.

Sometimes we may stray off course once in a while, but it’s good to know that someone always has our best interests at heart – even complete strangers.

Have you ever been lost and needed help?  What scares you the most – being lost or talking to strangers?  Are you afraid of the unknown?  Do you see uncertainties as opportunities?  Do you believe strangers are friends we haven’t met yet?

Image of Frederick McCubbin’s ‘Lost’ by Debbie Johansson.