Family & Frustration – CoronaLife Day 159

We got tested for coronavirus at the end of July and it took 2 weeks to get the results. We got tested because we were trying to get my daughter together with her best friend for a long weekend, so both families were going to get tested. That didn’t work out, but we decided not to waste our tests, so we went to visit my parents for only the 2nd time since February.

We had a nice visit outside, distanced, with masks when we had to use the rest room, but this time we visited longer because it didn’t rain on us. My mother is recovering from back surgery, so it was good to see how she was healing. Our visit made the day feel almost normal, like pre-COVID times.

The writing front was not so fulfilling. I reported last week that I was making progress with Veritas by using Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. For a brief time I thought I finally had figured out my character’s “third rail” – what she wants vs. a misbelief that holds her back. But now I am not so sure I managed it, and the frustration has returned. I am hoping for some inspiration, or for something to “click” but sometimes I think maybe this just isn’t a story I am capable of telling.

I wonder how much of my struggle is the pandemic pressure. We have all been home pretty much 24/7 since mid-March, and my introverted self is feeling oppressed by it all. That and the constant anxiety suppresses creativity, at least for me. But with no end in sight, I will have to figure out how to work through it, because NOT writing is galling to me.

Hopefully next week I will have more forward movement to report on Veritas. I’m not giving up!

A New Paradigm (Again)

I have talked often of finding a balance between my writing and my life. I have told of new ideas, new routines I’ve made to find that balance, only to share the frustration that comes with life’s interference with those plans.

But I have a new plan.


I’ve been doing the catch-as-catch-can thing for about 2 years now. Coincidentally, that is about how old my daughter is. And I am here to tell you that putting out fires for 2 years is exhausting and spiritually unfulfilling. Certainly I have enjoyed much of what has gone on in the past two years, but the harried, never-get-to-quite-focus mentality has left me feeling both incompetent and fractured. So I sat down to reassess everything.

I found that the greatest issue fueling my frustration was not being able to move all facets of my life forward at once.

I consider that I have 4 major facets in my life: Baby, Husband, Household, and Writing. Baby moves on her own rocket trajectory and moves ahead at warp speed. I try to stuff the other three facets into whatever time and energy I have left over. I found that one always outweighed the other two. When I focused on Writing, the Household and Husband suffered neglect. When I caught up on Household, Writing and Husband stagnated. When I actually pay attention to my long-suffering Husband, very little Writing or Household gets accomplished.

So I always ended up playing catch-up with 2 facets, frustrated that they had slipped in the first place, and then returning to the putting-out-fires method of living. This is not conducive to writing, at least not for me. I need at least an hour to really write. Editing I can do in smaller chunks, but for writing I need time.

My new plan? Move everything forward at once. Set tiny daily goals in each area and meet or exceed them. If I feel like I nothing is stagnating, perhaps I won’t feel the intense pressure of everything I’m NOT doing while I am trying to concentrate on what I AM doing.

It helps that I can now do more things when baby girl is awake. She’s old enough now to want to help or to entertain herself for a while. I can actually do housework, make (short) phone calls, and do email and social media when she is awake. That helps immensely. If I can move most of the Household and some of the Writing into the daytime hours, that will leave her nap and the nighttime for me to have some concentrated Writing time (and time with Husband, too, when he is not working crazy night shift hours!).

Circumstances keep changing, especially as my baby girl keeps changing. So it is smart to sit back once and a while and see what’s holding me back and how I can adjust things to overcome that. I’m hoping that by pinpointing my largest frustration, I can now make a plan that will be successful.

How about you? Do you re-evaluate your writing routine every so often to see if it can be improved? Or have you found a writing design that works for you?

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Beating the Frustration of Great Expectations

Sometimes Life just doesn’t conform to our expectations. As John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” We expect things to go one way, and they turn down a road that isn’t even on your GPS.

I’ve been having one of those “off-roading” months (which may explain the quiet but insistent voice that keeps saying, “Turn around immediately”). Life has been getting in the way of my writing. My 21-month-old demands a great deal of my attention, plus we are in the process of moving. And then there are the million other things on the To-Do list (which never gets shorter, somehow).

I made the choices that have put me in this position, of course. And although I do not regret those choices, I do sometimes regret the loss of time those choices have forced upon me. Note I said “regret” and not “resent.” Resentment is a destructive emotion, robbing you of the ability to enjoy any part of your life. But even when you love the life you have (as I do), you can still be frustrated when trying to balance your expectations with reality.

When I don’t get as much writing done as I expected, frustration grabs me and I wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t find time to write more. I mean, you hear about these moms who raise twenty kids and cook all the meals from scratch and have pristine houses and still find time to run a successful business out of their home. Why am I not one of those? Am I not efficient enough? Do I not have a strong enough work ethic? Do I sleep too much?

No matter how many times I look at my schedule, I cannot squeeze more time out of it. I am highly efficient in that I get everything done that NEEDS to be done. I have a very strong work ethic, judging by the fact that I sleep much less than I should in order to get done all I need to get done. And still I feel like I am stuck in that dream where you run as fast as you can but don’t move. I am putting out fires in my writing, but don’t feel that I am moving forward as a whole—at least, not as quickly as I would like.

So (other than cloning myself), what’s the answer? Do I need to lower my expectations? Am I expecting too much of myself? Probably—I have a habit of setting the bar pretty high. But as an unpublished writer, I am the only one who DOES expect anything from me. I do not have editors and agents pushing me for deadlines. So without my own high expectations, it would be easy to slack off to the point of stopping altogether. To do it when the baby’s older, when we are not moving, when summer craziness is not a factor.

But the truth is, there is always SOMETHING. Life will always get in the way. A friend once told me that there was no perfect time to have a child, and if you waited for that perfect time, you never would have children. Writing is like that, too. There is never going to be a perfect time to write. So I just write.

I write (and accept) my less-than-utopian daily word count knowing that someday I will have more time again. That someday we will have completed this seemingly unending moving process and be in the new house. That someday my child will go to school and I can work during the day. And that when that day comes, I will miss the hours spent with my child and being the central figure in her life.

So, I let my frustration melt into the delight of watching my daughter grow and develop—that daily miracle we so often take for granted. I listen as her vocabulary soars and her imagination opens up new worlds for both of us. Her laughter brings light, her face shines with the wonder of play, her eyes glow with the fascination of exploration. On any given day, her joy trumps my frustration, and she shows me how to truly live.

What’s your cure for your writerly frustration?

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