The Adventures of a Freelance Writer and Editor

Posts tagged ‘motivation’

Reading is Working

So far this week, I’ve had a hard time focusing. My personal life is demanding all of my attention, and I’m lacking the motivation to get much work done. Luckily, my writing to-do list is fairly short this week, but I still feel guilty for not concentrating hard enough. I should be sending out emails to potential clients, pitching articles to magazines, working on projects that are due in the upcoming weeks, and organizing my growing pile of expense receipts. Instead, I’ve spent most of the week reading books, browsing Barnes and Noble, and “researching” online. Luckily, as a writer, I can consider reading in the middle of the afternoon productive. After all, they say the best writers are avid readers, since reading is the best way to study the craft of writing. Unfortunately, reading and creative writing don’t pay well, so I’ve also been “productive” by registering for a grant writing webinar and flipping through marketing books.

Yesterday, I finished reading a great book called Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom (Hardcover) by Real Simple Editor Kristin van Ogtrop. It a memoir about life as a working mother and is written in dictionary form. Even though, I am not a “working mother,” I am a working woman who cooks, cleans, cares for a husband, and hopes to one day have children, so I could relate to many of the stories and terms. Here are a few of my favorites.

“Technological bipolarism: When you wake up in the morning and can’t imagine how you would get through life without your BlackBerry, but by bedtime you want to strap a bomb to it and blow it to smithereens.” Even though I refuse to buy a phone that allows me to be connected to the internet all day, I have the same love/hate relationship with my computer, Facebook, email ,and the internet in general.

“To-do haiku: The list of tasks or semi-important things to remember that replay like a song stuck in your head until you finally find a pen and write it down… To-do haiku are also useful for some of life’s bigger issues: How is my marriage?/Do I even like my job?/Does my ass look fat?” This is pretty much the story of my life. If you think I’m ignoring you because I’m not responding while you’re talking to me, it is probably because I’m mentally repeating something I don’t want to forget. I’m not good enough of a multi-tasker to talk to myself and you at the same time.

“Flamethrower e-mail: The incendiary message you don’t expect that promptly ruins an otherwise lovely day. The e-mail may be from a boss, an annoying coworker, a difficult friend, a teenage daughter. Regardless of who send s it, suddenly your whole world is on fire.” I seriously feel like Ogtrop was spying on when she wrote this.

“Usual suspects: The panel of forces you must consider before you commit to having a full-blown working-mother existential crisis. Before you allow yourself to question your entire life and any decision you have ever made, check: hormones, sleep deprivation level, messiness of house, whining level of children, ridiculousness of colleagues. If none these is the guilty party responsible for your unhappiness, then you may indeed have bigger problems.” This is definitely true for all women, whether or not you  have children.

“Homeward bound: The powerful drive you feel to get back into your house at the end of the day. The drive is so powerful, in fact, that sometimes it makes you do things that are irrational or completely out of character.” I’m glad to know I am not the only person who feels a magnetic pull between my body and the couch at the end of the day.

“Stress test: The self-analysis you must undergo when you are acting like a completely unbearable person. The test consists of one question: Is there something deeply wrong with me, or has stress taken over?”

If these terms describe your life, I suggest you go to the library or the book store and find a copy of Just Let Me Lie Down. By the end of the book, you will realize you are not the only crazy woman in America. In fact, you can rest assured that at least 90% of the people around you are probably just as crazy, or maybe even more, as you are.



Patience is a Virtue

We have all heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue,” but what exactly is impatience? Personally, I think impatience is an excessive amount of determination. I want to finish a project now. I want to be successful now. I want to achieve my goals now. Even though I’m being impatient, I have good intentions.

The first part of this week, I convinced myself that my impatience is actually a positive quality called determination, but by the end of the week, I realized how detrimental this “quality” can be. I started the week determined to be productive and successful. I set goals of how many potential clients to contact and how much money I would like to make this month. By the middle of the week, I was not seeing the results I wanted. I wanted clients to give me projects now. I wanted to reach my goal  now. I wanted to feel like a full-time professional writer now.

Instead, I felt stressed, frustrated, and scared. The more impatient I got, the less motivation I had. Suddenly, I went from determined writer to doubtful writer. I feared I would never get enough work to be full-time. I feared that no one would hire because I am inexperienced. Worst of all, I feared that I would never be able to say “I am a full-time professional writer.”

I needed some motivation and quick, so I decided take a day off. In terms of achieving my goals, this sounds counterintuitive, but it was actually beneficial. 

Yesterday I spent the day substitute teaching in a second grade classroom instead of writing. I spent all day with kids instead of with my computer. After work, I took myself out to dinner and went shopping. I refused to let myself think about my writing career. At first I felt guilty. I should be contacting potential clients not reading stories with 2nd grades, but this morning, I woke up refreshed and optimistic.

I spent the morning contacting potential clients and working on a grant application. By this afternoon, I landed a new project with A Garden Party. Once again, I am motivated and excited about by writing career. I guess, all I needed was a little patience.

How do you stay motivated? What do you do when  you find yourself losing hope and becoming impatient?

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