Yesterday, I spent the morning in my local Tim Hortons, waiting for my car to get out of the shop (routine maintenance and repairs only, but they were a few mechanics down, so it took forever).
As I was sitting there, working on both freelance writing and editing assignments, my friend Gord (who happens to own the restaurant) sat down to visit for a few minutes. He asked me a version of something I hear pretty often:
“Is it hard to get your writing done? Do you have to be in the right mood?”
And I answered with a version of what has become my staple response:
“No, the important thing is to sit down to write. You have to do it. That’s what professionals do.”
And this is true. Professionals show up. Professionals choose to make the time to do their work, or they don’t get results and don’t get paid. While I understand why people ask creative professionals this question (we do talk about the Muse an awful lot, after all), the answer a person gives is what defines whether they are, indeed, a professional, or just a hobbyist with a wish list.
That being said, there are days when writing is hard. You feel like everything you put out is something that came out of the south end of a north-bound alpaca. Or you sit and stare at a screen with a mind that has gone just as blank, and wonder where all your words went.
But if you’re sitting in the chair, trying to write, then you qualify as a professional.
Today was one of those days for me. I’ve been planning to update this blog for two weeks. (And my other one, Writing Tips.) But, as often happens when I’m in full-on marketing-and-book-launch mode, my schedule and brain space only had room for so much writing, and those resources were devoted to other types of work. All the while that inner type-o-meter that lets me know when I’m not putting in the work on my own important projects was gnawing away at me. So this morning, I sat down, opened a new post, and stared at the screen.
Then I did some accounting. (You know I’m desperate when I procrastinate with accounting.)
Then I stared again.
Then I did some graphic design and tweaked a few other pages on my site.
Then I finally got an idea. And the idea was this:
Practice what I preach. A professional puts out words, even when they aren’t any good.
So here I am, doing it anyway. Telling you that I struggle some days, just like everyone else. Telling you that I refuse to let that stop me from reaching my goals. Telling you that the best way I’ve found to push through writer’s block is to start typing, and then I’m often surprised by the words that flow from my fingers.
Because I’m a professional, and that’s what I do. And some days, the biggest measure of success is that you showed up.
Whether it’s fitness, professional, emotional, or spiritual goals—the only way to reach them is to do the work, whether you feel like it or not.
Beat that, writer’s block.
What Else Is New?
While I’m here, I’ll give you a quick update about what’s been happening in my life since my last post.
First of all, my book launch has gone well, and I feel like I’m slowly becoming able to shift my focus toward other things. The sense of overwhelm is gone. I still have a few upcoming public appearances (check my Events page for more), including my first-ever signing in British Columbia, but as far as my normal work week goes, I’ve been able to start working on my next book(s) again.
As part of the launch, I was privileged to be interviewed by two different newspapers. Megan Roth of Sylvan Lake News and Twyla Siple of Postmedia (which owns the local Peace River Record-Gazette) both did a great job. You can read those articles by clicking the links.
Last weekend, I sketched out a backstory novella outline for one of my main characters in Rise of the Grigori, Abela. (The sphinx for which Book 2, The Sphinx’s Heart, will be named after.)
I’d started outlining The Sphinx’s Heart, but was a bit stuck. Now that I’ve got Abela’s back story a little more defined, I will be jumping in on this again, hopefully later today. I have my editor tentatively lined up for October, which means I’d have to finish the first draft by July 12. Hmm. Not sure I’m going to make it. (Just the writing would take me longer than that.) However, even if I have to bump it a month or two, book 2 will still be out by next spring, as promised. A year between books isn’t quite reaching my goal, but it’s still a worthy accomplishment. (And I keep forgetting that I actually have published two books already this year, so I need to cut myself some slack!)
Also, thanks in part to a crazy dream I had, I came up with a cool story concept about a bereaved mother who begins to experience dual timelines—and in the other one, she died instead of her child. Now she has to choose between the life she knows or leaving her current family to join the other one and making it whole again. (Do you like? Do you want to read it? Let me know.)
Monday was the four-year anniversary of the death of my son, Levi. However, it came and went without the torment of past years. I’ve had a few “moments” over the last couple of weeks (and I already mentioned the crazy dream—that was not an isolated incident, either), but for the most part, I’ve been able to go through this year’s anniversary more graciously than ever before.
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Four years ago today, we lost 1/6 of our family. Every year since, my mom and I have gone to the greenhouse on the anniversary, a memorial that has been beautiful and healing. This year is the first year I can really say, and mean it, "I'm doing okay." I miss Levi as much as ever. But my life as it is is beautiful, too. And I'm finally getting to be okay with missing him AND appreciating my life. I am grateful for the time we had. And I'm grateful for the time since. And I'm grateful for these beautiful flowers that instantly add beauty and joy to my life. . Spring came at last. ❤️❤️❤️ . #grief #grieving #childloss #survivor #goodgrief #ptsdsurvivor #flowers #seekbeauty #grateful #springishere
This weekend, I have a book signing in Grande Prairie on Saturday, after which I’ll be driving six hours to spend the weekend with my sister and my mom’s side of the family. We’ll be celebrating the life of one of my youngest uncles, Bob, who passed away quite suddenly of cancer in February.
I’ve also been doing a bit of gardening this week, and have the sore muscles to prove it. It feels good to get my hands in the dirt again. The year of neglect last year hasn’t done my garden beds any favours, but it’s so rewarding to clean them up and see that most of my perennials have soldiered on and are peeking through the surface.
Those are the highlights.
For any writers who happen to be reading this, I’d like to point out two amazing resources that have recently come to my attention:
Adam Dreece’s new book, 5 Critical Things for Successful Book Signings. You can read my review on Goodreads here.
This amazing little free online tool by DIY Book Design for creating your own 3D book cover graphics. (What I was playing with while procrastinating earlier.) Check out my new pretty 3D mockups for The Undine’s Tear.
Well, that’s it. I came, I wrote, I conquered. And now that I have, I know the rest of my words today will flow more easily. Thanks for reading, if you got this far. As much as I write this blog for you, I also write it for myself. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to say to myself, “It’s just a blog. You’re not trying to win the Nobel Peace Prize with it. Write it, and it will break the block.”
And that’s exactly what it does. So thank you. Now, onward.
But first, I’d like to hear from you:
What is your go-to trick for getting past obstacles, whether it’s writer’s block or weight loss or developing a new, good habit? Let me know in the comments!