Though a simple, unstructured lifestyle may seem ideal, there is something to be said for a little definition to help make things happen.
Once upon a time, my life had a very specific structure. Five days a week, I got up at the same time, showered, dressed, did the usual morning things and went to work for eight hours. On Sunday nights, I made my breakfasts and lunches for three days, and on Wednesday nights, I made meals for the other two days. Laundry was done on the same day every week as was grocery shopping and other errands and chores. When November came along, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, and sat down to write at the same time every night, until the task was complete.
In the months since I left my job as a Corporate Controller (fancy name for Manager of Accounting and Finance), I’ve seen that structure weaken until, in the last three or four months, it has really been non-existent. All of the day-driven tasks I’d settled into in the first few months had fallen by the wayside. Unless I had an appointment or it was a dance night, my days were one, big, loose, barren wasteland of laziness and sloth; but worse, little to show that I’d spent my day in worthwhile pursuits. It became what so many people teased me about; a full-time vacation.
Taking frequent trips to my daughter’s house didn’t help matters, though I did keep up with my daily writing tasks while there. It took me far longer than it should have to complete the first revision of my novel because I allowed myself to slip when I just didn’t feel motivated.
There comes a time when you have to take a good hard look at what you’re doing and realize that it just ain’t working!
I think my turning point was when I actually finished that revision and had copies made so other people could read it and give me their thoughts on what worked and what didn’t. Though delayed by a couple of weeks due to my visit to my daughter, and hers to me, I finally took stock and made some changes. The first was to revamp my To Do list so I can track my progress in completing weekly tasks. (Old bean counter tricks can actually be handy!) The second was to commit to a Read and Critique with a local writer’s group. Though initially I only committed to one meeting, I felt so good about it afterwards that I made it a permanent addition to my calendar.
Though I’m refraining from working on the novel for now, I made the decision today to pull out the children’s story I wrote <gasp!> over twenty-two years ago, and start reviewing and revising it in preparation for next week’s meeting.
It hasn’t hurt my recent attack of motivation to re-acquire an accounting client and have the possibility of acquiring another. I now have tasks which need to be completed on a tighter schedule than I’ve enjoyed thus far, further necessitating a more definitized structure for my days. I have some reading I need to do, which I’m told will give me ideas on how to grab the reader’s attention. I have people I need to respond to with regard to improving my novel. And in order to facilitate the increased claims on my time, I’m reinstating my pre-made lunch program. Dinners will continue to be managed by making a large batch of something to be consumed throughout the week. This actually solves two problems for me: what to eat and how to eat more healthy meals. Grab and go, if I’m dependent on whatever is easy right now means a sandwich or something frozen, and I don’t really need either.
So what have I learned by going from one extreme to the other?
Always one to find the lesson in the ups and downs life brings me, I realize that, even if life becomes less structured, there are some things we do when we’re busy to make life easier that are just as useful when the structure in our life is self-created and self-motivated. Although I have the freedom to sleep a little later and do my chores and errands when I decide to do them, things still need to be done every week, every day, every month. I still need to follow a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise. (My knees are happiest when I move around frequently in some fashion, be it choreographed or freestyle). I still need to move forward on the things which will help me become a published author, sooner rather than later. There’s a website to create, a copywriting course to complete, a Facebook page to maintain, and a plethora of other tasks I don’t even know about yet, which will ensure that the world is ready for me to join the literary world with a reasonable amount of success.
If it means I have to start setting my alarm and pre-making lunches, so be it. It is all just a means to the same end.
And so ends the days of wine and roses (or coffee and long naps).
Nobody ever said that being self-employed meant shorter hours and an easier lifestyle. As a writer, I find that I am a whole lot more than just the chief cook and bottle washer. I’m the “talent” and the personal assistant and any other job title which comes along in my quest for that golden ring; my name on the cover of a book that people actually buy and read! It took awhile, but I think I’m finally on the right track towards balancing my desire for a life which is lived on my terms and actually achieving the lofty goals I set over nine months ago. Tally ho and away we go!
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for extremes as they help to find that middle ground which is what works best in the long run.
2. I am grateful for new lessons as they keep me growing and moving forward.
3. I am grateful for other people with fresh viewpoints who can help me clear the clouds away and get a clearer picture of what I need to do to achieve my goals.
4. I am grateful for days when I get a lot accomplished and feel proud of myself once more.
5. I am grateful for abundance: assistance, guidance, friendship, hope, love, beauty, happiness, health, motivation, inspiration, and prosperity.