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Adjust That Attitude!

This week the LitChat topic on Twitter has been creative battlegrounds. What is meant by that, I learned after asking, is all those things that get in the way of putting word on the page. Being the contrarian that I am, I said that I see no creative battlegrounds for me, only creative opportunites. So of course someone replied, "Lucky you."

I am lucky, lucky in so many ways, not least of which is that I get paid for doing work that I love: writing.

But I also think that the mental state of luckiness has as much to do with a practiced and determined mental attitude as it does with any sort of external form of luck like, I don't know, being tapped with a magic wand.

Here are some of the things I regularly hear other writers say get in the way of their creating:

1) I have a spouse who's not a writer and she/he doesn't understand;

2) I have kids to take care of;

3) I have other obligations, like cooking and taking care of the house;

4) I get distracted by Twitter etc.

5) and so forth.

There's not a thing in the above list you can't fix, especially "and so forth," and not a single one of the fixes involves loading a gun and shooting people.

1) Your spouse doesn't understand your need to write? Then you need to sell it better. You need to explain that this is something that's important to you as a person, something that has become tied up in your happiness and your sense of self. Don't feel that you have to apologize for making time for that which matters to you. If you treat your writing as a hobby then you can't be surprised if other people treat it that way too. If you wanted to go back to school to become a doctor or a marine biologist, would you feel the need to apologize for spending time studying anatomy textbooks or whatever it is that marine biologists study? No, I didn't think so.

2) You have kids? Well, who doesn't, except of course for people who don't. I have a kid. I like to say I wrote the first draft of Vertigo in fall 2000 while breastfeeding that kid, and I'm hardly even exaggerating. Some of the best parenting advice I ever received came from a friend who's never had children. She said, "If your daughter sees you doing things that matter to you, it doesn't make you selfish. It means she'll grow up to be the kind of woman who respects her own interests and makes sure that others do as well." That has indeed proven to be the case. My daughter's nine years old. She has zero doubt that I love her to pieces but she also understands that sometimes I need to work and that my work is writing. Oh, and last year? She wrote a play for 22 parts and yesterday she began brainstorming a second play. You see she's realized that writing is a pretty cool thing to do.

3) You need to cook and clean? Oh come on now. You can't expect me to buy that. The microwave is a wonderful invention and there are amazing organic frozen meals you can buy so you don't have to sacrifice nutirition for convenience. As for cleaning, here's my motto: If nothing's crawling, it's clean enough. You think I jest? Try stopping by here sometime without calling first. It'll be a real eye-opener. I'll give you a glass of wine to help you recover. Soon you won't mind the mess. Anyway, cleaning is overrated. An overly antiseptic environment can actually cause illness because people's bodies don't get a chance to naturally develop germ-fighting defenses. Really, I'm doing my family a big favor, being the way I am.

4) Twitter etc - all those online watercoolers are big distractions, aren't they? You need to prioritize. You need to use these places only to take palate-cleansing breaks during your writing periods or as your morning coffee or as your reward at the end of the day. You need to readjust your thinking: These places *aren't* distractions; you're *allowing them to become* distractions. Take back the power. Respect your own time. Set your writing goals each day, get the work done, and then once it's finished, play as much as you like.

5) And so forth? 'Fraid you're on your own with this one. Honestly, you can't expect me to do all the work here, can you? After all, I've got books to write.

Bottom line: What's the biggest thing standing in the way of your creativity? In most instances, it's probably you.

Am I saying that if the writing isn't getting done, it means you're some sort of lightweight or that you don't want it enough?

No. So please stop throwing things at me.

But I am saying that if the writing isn't getting done, it may be because you haven't given yourself permission to want something for yourself.

It's OK to want things for yourself.

It's OK to create a life and an environment that gives you the best opportunity to achieve those things.

So get to it.

And yes, I am lucky.


Be well. Don't forget to write. 

P.S. "But what about those of us with day jobs?" I hear some of you say as I try to escape out the back door. Here's what I say back: While trying to get published, I had as many as four simultaneous part-time jobs. I still set daily writing goals and met them, because I made writing a priority in my life.

And now I really am out the door.

13 Comment count
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Oh Lauren! "If your daughter

Oh Lauren!

"If your daughter sees you doing things that matter to you, it doesn't make you selfish. It means she'll grow up to be the kind of woman who respects her own interests and makes sure that others do as well."

I needed to hear this today! Thank you!

What do I think? I think if a writer wants to write, they will find a way to do it. I've been a thousand times more productive with two little kids, a day job, and the internet than I was when none of those things were in my life. My house is a complete mess though. Lucky for me, no one ever comes to my house.


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(That *snort* is for your last line.) I like to say human beings are like gases. We expand to fit our containers. Give us more time, mostly it'll just take us as long to accomplish the same amount; we'll just dither more.

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Lauren, this is so true!

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Thank you, but...

...what is that creature on your shoulder? At first I thought it was a cat!

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It is not a cat but a....

...Peruvian monkey, which lived in the back of a tiny cafe in the Amazon where I was doing a story.  Thanks for asking!

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one more question

So are you in the Amazon in that picture or did you bring the monkey home with you?

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Why I can't..

delete these duplicate posts is anyone's guess.

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I would have loved...

..to have brought the monkey home with me, but it was someone else's monkey.  Plus it probably would not have been  happy in Northern California...too cold.  So yes, I left the monkey in the Amazon, where the photo was taken.

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"Someone Else's Monkey"

Now *that* would make a great title!

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Yes, "Someone Else's Monkey"...

... is a great title. Now I just have to write the story.  Let me see if I can expand to fit the container :-)

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Yes! Human beings are like gases - we always expand to fit our containers!

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Wait, are you sure you don't live in *my* house?

I love this post, Lauren!

My children are 4 1/2 and 16 months old. It can be challenging to write (and also to promote) with children, but it also forces you (well, me) to prioritize and to use my time more effectively. My daughter makes her own books with paper, crayons, and a stapler and is great at doing crafts/art projects while I'm writing. I think it's great that she can divert herself independently, and our talks about what I do for a living (and how I do it) often make for teachable moments. For example, I get explain that often we can't do something right the first time--whether that's pouring milk into a glass or coloring in the lines. "Mommy sometimes rewrites what she's doing TEN times," I tell her, "and that's okay." All that matters is that a person keeps at something.

My house looks like an explosion most of the time: toys, books, kiddy art supplies, dog fur, every piece of Tupperware from the bottom cabinets that Baby Cole takes out and spreads around the house twice a day. But the kitchen counters are clean. And it keeps me from inviting over anyone I don't really like who I might think I should impress.

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Just like with Amy's comment, your last line cracked me up. It does sound like you've got the chaos under control, Tanya - I'm not surprised!