Tag Archives: restart

Restart: The Most Important Thing

Have you ever seen the movie City Slickers? Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, city guys go to a dude ranch. I haven’t seen it all the way through for a long time, but I liked it when it came out. And my absolute most favorite part is when Jack Palance gives Billy Crystal life advice on how to be happy. Take a look.

When I first saw the movie, I loved that line the most because I was 23, had been married for a year, and was thinking about what I wanted to do my life. It helped me to remember that focus on the most important things in life is the only way to have balance.

For me, the most important focus in my life is why am I here? Odd as it sounds when compared to people who save lives, I think I’m here to write things that encourage or help or entertain people. I feel like that’s the one thing God for sure planned for me to do. (Of course, not including the most important ways to live – loving God and loving others.)

Do you think about this question much? What is your “one thing”?

Restart: Beginning Again At Any Time

I’ve been teaching a time management class for writers in January for the last few years called Going the Distance. I’ve been thrilled that it’s been so hands-on useful to my students, and I started thinking I should do another shorter class in the summer called Restart. It would be about taking the time to stop and re-focus when your schedule gets out of control.

Yesterday, I had a brief Restart moment myself. The last few years have been very difficult financially and career-wise for both me and John. The last few months of unemployment I’ve been trying to think of ways to bring in money without totally turning away from my writing and teaching business. After looking at a lot of options, the only appealing one was to try to grow the teaching side of my business.

That has taken up most of my time (8-12 hours a day, 6 days a week!) since I put out my last book in December (A Very Merry Superhero Wedding). When I have tried to work on “My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine”, my latest superhero short story (that was supposed to be out by February 14), I have had to fight to get every word on the page, and still it’s only 15 pages long. Combine that depressing number with the numbers I pulled together for our tax accountant, and I was half-heartedly wondering at what point I should just give up.

Then John was unexpectedly called back to work two days ago! I immediately lost the feeling of wanting to give up, but I felt I needed to take one of those Restart moments and ask God again what I should be doing. You know, check in, touch base, see if there is a new direction, same direction, or if I’ve been blown off course and need to correct my route.

Turns out, it was the last one. I’ve been so focused on our daily need for money to pay the bills, I was chasing that rabbit and too often ignoring the one thing that I’ve been certain of the last few years – that God wants me to write.

And that’s why I’m here. I need to course-correct. So I’m going to hit the Restart button and start blogging regularly here again. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the posts. 😉 But sometimes you need to do things because it’s what you need regardless of what the marketing experts tell you. And what I need is a place to talk about the things that interest me – like spirituality, neuroscience, relationships, and comic books. So I’ll be doing that on Wednesdays every week.

One thing I used to write a lot of is devotionals – little stories about life and how a Bible verse or subject applies to it. I love writing those stories because it’s an outlet to share the silly, ridiculous, interesting, and heart-wrenching things I’ve seen or experienced as well as giving voice to the things I learn about God and his amazing love for us. So I’m going to start writing devotionals again (yay!) and post them here every Sunday.

That nudge I got from God yesterday – that I’m not really doing what I know I should be doing – has turned around my dragging feet and helped me not to feel so down about my writing career. Just the act of writing this post has revived my spirits already! And this is just day one!

I encourage you, if there is anything you feel like you should be doing but haven’t been, take a moment to stop and think and listen. Hit the Restart button in that area and begin again. You may feel your spirits revive, too! And please share it with me here. It’s more fun when we have a conversation instead of me monologuing like a super villain!

Broken Routines

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

The great thing about setting up writing routines – or any kind of routine – is that you can set things on auto-pilot and they just keep going. Until something falls on the tracks and disrupts them.

Since May, my life has been full to bursting with routine busters. The last six weeks of my master’s degree program were a mad rush of homework. The morning after my last class, I flew to the U.S. for 3 1/2 weeks for three different writer’s events (culminating in New York City at the Romance Writers of America’s national conference!). On the way back to Sydney, I picked up my Mom and she visited us for four weeks. A few days into her visit, John and I decided that my career could wait one more month to get re-started after college. I was never going to have this time with my mom again and that was more important than hurrying back to work.

Mom left, I took a couple days to relax and re-focus, then I started back up again. The first few days were okay, but the massive amounts of undone household chores loomed in the background. Still, I plowed on. Then a letter came from the government about a form we needed to file with them. That took the better part of two days over a week to deal with. (Ah, good ole government paperwork!)

Then some food got spilled on the couch cushions. I’d been meaning to take the cover off the couch and wash it for months, but I kept putting it off because I was busy doing other important things. Well, if I’ve got to wash one cushion cover, I might as well wash all of them and be done with it. Alas! The IKEA covers can be washed – and in hot water, no less – but can’t be tumble dried. They can get hot in water but can’t get hot in air? Oka-ay. So they’re drying on a rack now. But wait for it – they have to be hot-ironed before going back on.

Sigh. This was not how my day was supposed to go. This was not how my writing career was supposed to go!

On the other hand, after a productive work morning yesterday, my friend called me and said, “What are you doing?!” She’d been sick and housebound and now she sounded GREAT. And she wanted to get out of the house. And we missed each other. And we were only going to go to the mall to pick up two or three things. But so long as we were there, we should look for a couple things she needed for her trip to France. (I know, right?! Paris!) And since I was with her, I could play with her toddler while she tried on clothes.

And hey, since it’s raining, why don’t we go pick up our husbands from work (they work together on Happy Feet 2) so they don’t have to walk in the rain. And since it was raining, the traffic was a bear, so we still didn’t get home till after 7pm. Then there was no couch to sit on because the cushion covers were still air-drying. So my romantic husband took all our other pillows from the house and piled them up on the floor and we had a little chocolate picnic while we watched TV. At that point, writing routines were totally not on my radar! (Hey, since I write a lot of romance, I consider this research time. 😉 I totally forgot about you guys and this blog! LOL!)

So where does that leave me?

At the beginning of a new day. I think God created days and nights so we could always take a break and start again. I really do. So today is a new day. I’m writing this at the very beginning of a new day in Sydney, even though it’s the middle of the day in the States. (It’s tomorrow here! Isn’t that cool?!) When I’m done writing this, I’m going to hit restart on my old daily routine I used to have, my First Five (exercise and shower, make the bed, put away last night’s cleaned dishes, load the washing machine, read my Bible).

Then I’m going to work for two hours so that I’ll continue my commitment to put my career first. But then I’m going to spend the rest of the day getting all that “stuff” done that is making me crazy and taking part of my attention away from my work. (You know what I mean, you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re thinking about everything else that needs to be done.) I’ll iron those couch cushion covers and remake the couch. I’ll vacuum up the feathers that came out of the cushions, and do the rest of the apartment since I’m at it. I’ll clean up and put away all the half-done, half-put away stuff that’s been hanging around from as far back as June.

And then I’m determined to sit down and create a First Five for writing. I’ve been talking about it for eight months. I just haven’t figured out what the first five parts of my writing routine are yet. Possibly because I haven’t been in a place where I can really have a career writing routine yet. But that day is TODAY! LOL!

So what about you? Do you have certain things you do to get into your writing headspace? Are you like me, trying to create a routine but not figuring it out yet?

Note: Tomorrow I’ll post my first review of an ebook on how to make and publish ebooks. I’m going to self-publish my novel Little Miss Lovesick next month  and I want to share what I’m learning with my friends. So if you’re interested in that subject, stop on by!