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Doing It All

DOING IT ALL

By Pam Asberry

i can do this

We’re just a few short weeks weeks into the New Year but when I look back on those fifty-plus days I am astonished at the number of highs and lows I have experienced already: family drama, personal illness, two major snowstorms, an unexpected romance. Happily, things seem to be settling down a bit; of course I can’t change my family, but now I am healthy, the snow has melted, and the romance has turned into an engagement. I smile every time I see that beautiful diamond ring sparkling on my left hand. And I’ll give myself credit where credit is due; for the most part I am plugging away at the Things That Make My Life Work. My piano students performed successfully in their first big event of the year, I am making steady progress on my own piano music, and I have lost five pounds. Unfortunately, writing is the activity that always seems to fall by the wayside when the going gets tough and that has certainly been the case so far in 2014. Somehow I’ve got to stop making that my default.

What makes me feel like I am doing my job as a writer?

1. Morning pages every day.
2. Blog posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
3. 3000 words a week added to the manuscript.

I am almost ashamed to admit the truth: as a writer, I haven’t just fallen down on the job; I have barely shown up at the workplace. But how to find time to do it all? Get up earlier in the morning? Spend less time on Facebook? Delegate some of the cooking and housework?

I made myself a pendant (pictured above) as a tangible means of encouragement. I’m not sure what else it’s going to take. But I am convinced there are enough hours in the day if I use them wisely. And I know I’m not the only one who struggles with trying to do it all. How do you manage?

  • Blog: http://pamasberry.com
  • Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pamasberry
  • Twitter: http://twitter.com/pamasberry
  • Etsy: http://etsy.pamasberry.com
  • Studio: http://asberryschoolofmusic.com

Marilyn Baron - February 17, 2014 - 7:12 am

Pam,

First of all, don’t focus on what you’re NOT doing. Your life has taken a positive turn and you should give yourself permission to be happy and enjoy it. Congratulations. And I’m so glad you’re healthy.

You are certainly using your creative side with your beautiful jewelry (I love the pendant). Once you have a writing project you’re interested in, maybe that will jumpstart your other creative juices. For me, it took a death in the family to make me see how short life is and that I’d better get going and as a result 2013 was my most productive year. But I wouldn’t wish that motivation on anyone.

Maybe you can combine your love of jewelry into a book. Have your heroine do what you do. Then you will fall in love with your project and the pages will flow. In my next book, my heroine owns a jewelry boutique. I love jewelry (can’t make it though, but I do appreciate it) and I was excited about a project that could combine the two things I love (writing and jewelry).

I know you will accomplish your goals!

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 7:45 am

The book of my heart *is* about a woman who makes jewelry, Marilyn, and I have considered rewriting it as a romance. Instead, I am floundering away with the YA that was a finalist in the Maggies last year. Maybe I should put that one aside and return to the other. Thanks for the ideas!

Missy Tippens - February 17, 2014 - 8:52 am

Pam, two things jumped out at me in your post.

1. Congratulations!! I’m thrilled for you on your engagement!!
2. That’s a GORGEOUS necklace! Do you have an Etsy shop yet??? :)

I’d suggest forgetting about the new year and resolutions and such and just pick up with today. Start with fresh goals. Once you’re writing again, you’ll get back in the flow.

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 9:51 am

Thanks, Missy! Yes, just when I had given up on finding Mr. Right, there he was! And yes, I do have an Etsy shop; the link appears at the bottom of my post. A lot of people seem to like this pendant; I guess I need to get it listed. And I appreciate your advice. Maybe I should just forgive myself for yesterday, forget about tomorrow, and just get my 500 words down TODAY. Thank you again!

Connie Gillam - February 17, 2014 - 10:18 am

I’m with Marilyn and Missy. Focus on what’s going well. Obviously you not in love with your writing project. (Take it from an expert, I know how that goes). Look for something that excites you.

Congratulations on the engagement.

EllenSeltz - February 17, 2014 - 10:36 am

Um, you’re not going to like this, but frankly if you have to do something other than write in order to make a living, I think your “minimum” is unrealistic and you are setting yourself up to fail and feel guilty.
I have a husband, 2 kids, and a day job that feed us. Those obligations have to come before writing – they are nonegotiable to all of our happiness and wellbeing. I measure my writing commitment by time, not by output. I put in X hours, X days a week. If I get 500 or 1500 or 5000 words a week, I am still a writer doing my job, because I showed up. If I eat my good food and do my workouts, I am still doing my job for my health whether or not the scale moves.
I don’t work well for judgy people who tell me I am failing – and that includes myself. If I want to work well with my creative self, I have to be kind to her and not treat her like she’s in a sweatshop – she’ll quit on me.

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 10:52 am

That’s good advice, Connie. Thank you! :-)

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 10:57 am

Hi Ellen! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I am a single mom with a busy piano studio; I also make and sell jewelry to help make ends meet. As you point out, those are not negotiable, nor is eating well and exercising. Add to that a new relationship, and I am obviously spreading myself pretty thin. I have always thought in terms of word count but maybe it’s time to try something different, and putting in a certain number of hours per week might be a good place to start. Because I think you might have hit the proverbial nail on the head: maybe my creative self is tired of subjecting herself to the cruel beatings of the taskmistress. You have given me a lot to think about and I truly appreciate it!

Julee J. Adams - February 17, 2014 - 12:21 pm

Yes, it has been a hell of a year so far! I am very happy for you. I’m pleased some of the things we’ve talked about have come to fruition. Didn’t I say love would come when you least expected it? When you loved your life? That’s what happened to me and I’m glad it happened to you.

You’ve gotten some more good advice. I know you are very goal driven and I admire that, but you have to cut yourself some slack somewhere still. We’ve had this discussion before too, haven’t we? I see from your comments you are coming around to know you have to fall in love with your work. I’m thinking a time goal may be the answer for you instead of a word count, at least for now. I’ve been bouncing between manuscripts and need to focus in. You might need to take a break from the YA and work on another piece for a while to get your mojo back.

I need some of your discipline. I always have a problem in January and February, with the cold and my birthday. I just want to sleep, then have problems doing that because I have so much I need to do and no motivation. I think the time goal may be what I need to do also.

Love the necklace too! Looks like it would be a good seller and if you could find a tiny book or computer charm, how cool would that be? Love ya and don’t forget to make time to relax and enjoy this period of your life. Keep the pictures and laughter coming, K? The fiction will come, promise.

Tamara LeBlanc - February 17, 2014 - 12:43 pm

I think your pendant is AWESOME! I want one!!!
I’m soooooo thrilled for you, your writing, your romance, everything.
I hope that 2014 is your best year yet, Pam!!
Have a great afternoon and keep up all that writing :)
Tamara

Denise D. Young - February 17, 2014 - 2:00 pm

Nice pendant! I try to set realistic but challenging goals for myself. I often get frustrated when I don’t meet those goals, but I just try to keep some forward momentum and push myself a little harder. I often worry that my word count isn’t high enough, I’m not prolific enough, am I reading enough in my genre, should I be saving up to attend another writers conference… We just do the best we can. We grow a little every day. Our careers and lives are built word by word, brick by brick, not overnight.

It sounds like you are having a whirlwind of a year. Enjoy your life, your accomplishments, and your new beginnings! Congratulations! :)

Sia Huff - February 17, 2014 - 3:43 pm

Happy Engagement, Pam. I’m happy for you. The Superwoman mindset is hard to break. We’re supposed to do everything, all the time – but I don’t think that’s realistic. Don’t frustrate yourself during this wonderful time in your life.
I agree, change your goal to a time goal might be a good start. Also, there’s a couple of classes you could take to help you get faster. One’s called The Book Factory by Kerri Nelson. She presented at M&M and is doing it on-line at From the Heart Romance Writer’s. Check it out if you have a minute. The last thing I’ll throw out there, is just take time to read what you like. Sometimes that sparks our creativity. Hope something helps. Good luck.

Sandra Elzie - February 17, 2014 - 7:10 pm

Hey Girl….Congrats!!! I’m with everyone else…don’t worry about yesterday but draw a line in the sand and start over. Keep focusing on the positive…just like you tell your piano students, right?

Walt Mussell - February 17, 2014 - 9:07 pm

Pam,

If I haven’t said it yet, Congrats!! (If I’ve said it anyway, Congrats!! :-) )

You’re getting more accomplished than I am. I need to work harder at being a writer.

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:11 pm

January and February are always tough for me too, Julee; cold and snow are not my friends, and we have had an unusual share of both here in Atlanta this year. Tiny book or computer charms, eh? I’ll see what I can find! As always, thanks for your support and your friendship!

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:13 pm

Thanks, Tamara! Despite my frustration with my writing, all in all 2014 has been a very good year. But I am determined not to let ANYTHING, not even happiness, get between me and my dream – although it’s probably okay to revel in the sunshine for a few minutes, LOL! :-)

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:15 pm

Thank you, Denise! Maybe I can find a way to take ONE step, however small, towards my dream, every day. Today it was fielding comments on this blog post – so much good advice! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:17 pm

Wow, Sia. That class sounds like JUST what I need right now. Thank you for suggesting it! As for reading what I like, my goal is three books a month in 2014, although I always feel guilty when I read, because I wonder if I shouldn’t be writing instead. But you are right that reading helps fill the creative well. I appreciate your input!

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:18 pm

That sounds simple enough, Sandy. Although I hate it when people throw the good advice I give my students back in my face, LOL! ;-)

Pam Asberry - February 17, 2014 - 11:19 pm

I appreciate it, Walt! Maybe we can encourage each other where the writing is concerned! :-)

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - February 18, 2014 - 3:40 am

I know I’m repeating myself, but CONGRATS on the engagement. I’m SO happy for you. :-D

As for the rest, you’ve gotten some good advice. I’ve been at this writing thing for 11 years and there are times when the words fly onto the page and times when life interferes and I can hardly do more than edit a few paragraphs. You have to find a balance and give yourself a break with the guilt. That won’t make you feel creative. If you only avg a page a day (250-300 wds), you’ll still have a book at the end of the year!

Pam Asberry - February 18, 2014 - 8:57 am

Thank you, Carol. That does help me put things in perspective. I have no intention of giving up, ever! Especially as long as I have the support of such a wonderful community of writers!

Debbie Kaufman - February 19, 2014 - 9:51 am

Pam, About 10 years ago, in response to some symptoms of fatigue, my doctor told me that I was not Superwoman. My first wisecrack was, “I want a second opinion.” Now I get his point. Priorities are important, and I can’t do it all. Lately I’ll settle for doing some portion of “all” LOL!
Congrats again on the engagement. I love the pendant. Your creativity is such an inspiration. For those who don’t know about it, they need to check out your Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWishingBox?ref=l2-shopheader-name

And/or watch for new posts on your shop’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wishing-Box/109754045739157

Pam Asberry - February 19, 2014 - 10:57 am

Thanks, Deb. It is theoretically possible that I MAY be pushing myself too hard. Everyone’s comments have been very helpful and I am seriously rethinking my daily routine. I appreciate all your encouragement and support!

Susan Carlisle - February 21, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Pam,
I had no idea about the engagement. That is wonderful! As for writing it has to be the proiority or at least the second in line. It is a job and has to be treated that way. Tough to do sometimes. I look forward to seeing the ring.

Pam Asberry - February 25, 2014 - 12:11 am

Unfortunately, Susan, since writing doesn’t pay the bills it isn’t the priority with everything else I have to take care of I’m not sure it even comes second. At this point an writing at all will be an improvement. I look forward to showing you my ring! :-)

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