I recently had coffee with a writer friend. We chatted about world issues and kids, writing, and reading.
She’s a mom of three active young children and with the pandemic any alone time and/or work time has been sporadic at best.
She said that sometimes she’ll have time on a Monday morning when the kids go the neighbors for a couple of hours. She’ll go gangbusters on a project. Maybe she’ll begin to write a short story or an outline for a novella. In her head, the entire thing is worked out and complete.
Enter real life.
She’s just past the first page when the phone rings. She needs to pick up one of the kids because one fell and may need stitches. Okay. That day is done. She gets in the car still thinking about the character in her short story…she searches her mind for suitable names.
The kids all pile back into the car while short stories and dreams of writing are put on the back burner.
That evening she snuggles into bed with her youngest to read her a bedtime story. The story is one of heroes and villains. She finds the repetitive nature of the words mesmerizing and rhythmic. She begins to be lulled into the rise and fall only to think a dangerous thought—I could write like this. I could write a children’s story.
The next morning as the kids play in the yard she turns the page in her notebook from her previous day’s work and she scribbles down some ideas for a children’s story.
For a moment she forgets everything and steps into the characters. They’re strong and capable and always finish their breakfast. Within minutes the kids are storming back in wanting a snack. She tells them the idea for her story but they don’t seem impressed or even seem to care. She’s left wondering.
The rest of the day gets sucked away with laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning. She steals a few minutes here and there but it doesn’t help.
Weeks go on like this.
Every few days or maybe weeks, she’d start a new project. The energy and enthusiasm were intense and enough to keep her going until distraction pulled her away or boredom set in and her mind meandered along a new and seemingly more interesting path.
Now, don’t get me wrong–some people actually have many projects on the go but are actively moving them forward. The difference here is three kids, very limited time, and a scattered or nonexistent focus.
This woman is incredibly smart, capable, and talented. The problem is that she’s bogged down with the half-finished stuff that amounts to zero. Each time one is abandoned it cries out as a failure or defeat. That takes its toll on your psyche. Things unfinished or abandoned too early can add to the weight of melancholy or hopelessness. It constantly feels like you’re spinning your wheels.
You can end up in your own head with doubts and questions about your suitability to do or finish anything. You can find yourself asking: “Am I really a writer?”
Today I challenged her to choose one project and see it through until the end. I suggested poetry because it can be done quickly and polished later. And also she’s a wicked good poetess.
I know she’ll be successful.
There’s a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when we finish what we start.
How many things have you got laying around that are half done?
I’ll give you the same challenge.
Pick one and get it done and don’t start another project until it’s complete.
Remember the only difference between a GOAL and a DREAM is a TIMELINE. Dreams go on forever but goals get accomplished and checked off.
I know you can do it.