Welcome to the Life List Clubs bi-weekly blog fest. If you aren’t familiar with the Life List Club you can find out about it on the tab up on my header (or click the link). Today, I am guest posting over at Anne-Mhairi Simpson’s site on Goals and Standard Operating Procedures.
I am happy to host the fabulous co-founder and inspiration for the Life List Club, Jess Witkins. Jess is an ultra-cool adventurer who blogs about her travels, fun recipes, books and the creepy legends that roam the woodlands of Wisconsin. And so, without further adieu, here’s Jess.
Writer Meltdowns: A Case of the Mean Reds
A funny thing happened on my way to being a writer. I read this book by Gretchen Rubin, called TheHappinessProject. She changed her career from being a successful attorney to being a successful writer and she made herself happier along the way. So I finished reading the book and dived right in. I started a blog. I started my own book. I enrolled in a writer’s conference. I submitted my work for contests. I started a critique group. I got admitted into WarriorWriter’sBootCamp as a Fly on the Wall. I met some AMAZING writers through the blogosphere (Gene totally being one of them!). And I got to partner with MarciaRichards, the co-founder of the LifeListClub. So there I was, surging forward. And then that funny thing happened. I had a raging meltdown.
It Begins with the Juggling Act
Not all of us are writers, but we do have an uncanny commonality with circus performers. We have to juggle. We all wear a variety of suits throughout our lives. We are mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, partners, bosses, workers, students, writers, beekeepers, piano tuners…we’re a lot of things. And sometimes, it’s difficult to be all of them to our fullest. If I stick with my juggling theme here, I felt like I was trying to balance a chainsaw, a typewriter, and an open bottle of wine. I was trying to learn a new job at work, keep up with my writing projects, and maintain some semblance of a relationship with the person I live with and yet never seem to see.
I started out dreaming about work. Entire 9 hour days were happening overnight followed by actual 9 hour days in the store of people asking me endless questions I was still learning the answers to. Then I started getting behind on my writing, really behind. I hadn’t added to my work in progress in months. It was the first thing to get cut during the day. And before I knew it, I woke up one morning saying, “Maybe this isn’t the year to start writing. Maybe you should focus your time elsewhere and try writing again next year. Maybe the writing thing just isn’t meant to happen.”
I was ready to battle that voice. My inner child remembered barricading myself in my room with my mom’s old typewriter that couldn’t print the letter ‘n’ and had to be handwritten in. She told me this was my dream, and I was really stupid if I thought quitting was the answer.
Quitting and Crying in the Grocery Store
But things did not get better. They got worse. I was overwhelmed at work, still not getting writing done, and making my partner feel ignored. I felt alone. Clearly I was a loser who couldn’t handle it, and didn’t deserve to be published if I couldn’t devote the time.
I tried to blur my troubles with a routine. I went grocery shopping. I had just a few items on the list, some basics. But they didn’t have the frozen juice I needed. I scoured the shelves and asked a clerk, but they didn’t have it. I called my boyfriend and asked him to please call the grocery store across town and find out if they had it. They said they did. So I drove to the other side of town and looked for it there. It was too high for me to reach. I had to climb into the freezer section to get the can out. My shopping cart was covered in mayflies, which I hate and creep me out and I felt like everyone was staring at me. I started crying. In the grocery store.
Jess Asks for a Sign
I’m an avid reader of Kristen Lamb’s blog. Kristen is the social media expert for writers. She writes honest and excellent advice for creating your author brand, better blogging and twitter guidelines, how to improve your writing, and she’s funny! Earlier in the week I read her post, Are We Born to Create? She shared with us her story of becoming a writer and asked us to share our ideas about supporting writing and finding creativity. I was still feeling weepy. I commented that my biggest fear is that I’ll never be able to make the transition to full time writer. That financially, I couldn’t support myself. And though I had tried, I was unsuccessfully working on my book, meaning I wasn’t at all. I asked for help.
Two Writers Peel Jess Off the Floor, and Tell Her “Buck Up, Bronco”
My help was unexpected. It came in the form of two bloggers who shared their honest emotions during their own mean reds turned raging meltdown. Linda Cassidy Lewis is an author working on her second novel, managing marketing and book sales for the first, attempting to top her work with the second. She blogged that she was stuck and full of doubt and didn’t know why. Her blog is the first one I read that told me I wasn’t alone feeling doubtful and in the dark. And then my blogging good fairy came in the persona of Renee Schuls-Jacobson. Her post, When Writers Meltdown, confirmed everything I was feeling. One minute you’re the “together girl” making it look so easy, and the next, you’re…well, juggling a chainsaw, a typewriter, and an open bottle of wine.
I haven’t magically made my schedule more manageable. I haven’t suddenly written 3 new chapters (or one for that matter). But I have made some connections that showed me I’m not alone. That meltdowns and mean reds are part of the process, and they mean I’m growing. I owe much of my progress to the amazing Life List Club too, without whom it’d be easier to quit, but that’s just NOT an option. And I’m happy about that.
How do you handle the juggling act? What helps you overcome meltdown status?
Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining. Go ahead, SUBSCRIBE, you know you want to.
I encourage you to comment and let us know what you think before heading over to see my guest post on Anne-Mhairi’s blog. There are thirteen of us traveling around today and we’d love to have you join us. Just follow the link trail from site to site or use my Life List Club blog roll on the side column.