Have you ever thought about what motivates you? I ask myself this question almost daily. For the longest time I struggled to write, because I was unmotivated. Or, perhaps more specifically, I was unmotivated because I was overwhelmed with being a mother and wife. I would often sit in front of my computer and stare at the computer screen without writing a single word. No words would come. As a result, I would become more frustrated and even less motivated. This vicious cycle hindered every aspect of my life. Then, one day I finally realized that I write for my family. I want to communicate with them effectively through writing and show them the passions of my heart. More importantly, however, I write for myself. In that moment of realization, my entire perspective on writing changed.
Writing for myself, or rather, preaching truth to myself, means expressing thoughts and ideas that come from my soul; a reflection of my innermost being. It is a way to express the thoughts that are hidden deep within. Strikingly, as I thought about “Writing for myself” I realized that it isn’t really for myself at all. I am writing to myself because I need to “preach the truth” into my own life. when I examined thoughts, ideas and desires, I realized that When I examined those thoughts and desires, I realized that even though I would someday LOVE to have a book published and read by thousands (millions if I’m totally honest), I am truly satisfied with having the ability to express my thoughts for myself. I also realized that motivation is not a constant force. There are still days that I struggle to put words onto paper. They either sound horrible or don’t make sense. The key is to keep writing anyway. Eventually, words will come. They may not be the best words, but they could also be better than anything else you have ever written. Remember your motivation and keep writing. Few people will ever see those days filled with pieces of crumpled paper or the backspace button, but no matter what, you have been writing.
Even though this realization has totally changed how I write, I still struggle because I see my house that needs its walls washed. I remember that I have a load of laundry that needs to be folded or dishes in the sink that need to be cleaned. As a writer, my most important job is to write, but as a mother and wife, my most important job is to care for my family and home. To combine these two effectively, I need to make specific choices that enhance and enable me to pursue my passions and care for my family effectively.
- First, I make sure to follow through with the mundane tasks, like doing the dishes, cleaning, and folding laundry. None of these tasks are bad, and I even enjoy some of them, but leaving any of them to “wait until tomorrow” hinders my productivity as a writer. I find it very difficult to focus when I am surrounded by piles of clothes, toys or dishes. By making sure that I finish the household tasks before I write, I have enabled myself to fully dedicate my thoughts to writing.
- Second, I incorporate my children into the daily activities. My oldest daughter loves to dry dishes and my second daughter is always picking up toys and “doing laundry” (mainly putting the dry clothes back into the washer when I’m not paying attention 🙂 ). Engaging them in household chores helps me to teach them responsibility, how to care for a household and allows us to work together to accomplish important tasks before “play” occurs. The same thing is true for my writing. Every time I sit down to write when they are awake, I make sure that they can color, draw or read while I am working. This creates a sense of unity and allows them to see me following my dreams. Above all else, I want my children to know that they are part of my life, not just side thoughts.
- Third, create “time blocks.” I am a horrible time scheduler. I often find myself taking far longer than necessary on a specific item on my “to do list.” However, time blocks have totally changed my thinking about scheduling my time. Here is an excellent resource for block scheduling that I loved from heydonna.com. Every day I have blocks of time for specific facets of my life. I also keep a running “To Do” list. During those blocks of time, I attempt to complete as many tasks as possible on that list. Once the block of time is up, I move on to the next list/block. It has worked so much better because I have been able to feel more accomplished which creates motivation.
- Fourth, be lenient with yourself. This does not mean allow yourself to avoid work. It means, when you fail, it is ok. You are able to get back up and do it again. Giving yourself a physical or mental bashing is less effective than being positive. When this happens, and it is bound to happen, have grace and allow yourself to pick back up the pieces. As one of my favorite character said “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” -Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables. Nothing is more stressful than being hard on yourself. Being motivated is tied to the way we view ourselves. Should we constantly be degrading ourselves because we didn’t accomplish our goals? No. Being lenient means giving yourself an opportunity to do it again, correctly, tomorrow, or the next day.
- Finally, I make sure to focus on the most important parts of my life: my husband and children. They are my first responsibility. If they are feeling unloved, neglected or frustrated, I have the responsibility to raise them as best as I can without interruption from my other responsibilities. Sometimes, this means just snuggling on the couch or making cookies in the kitchen. Writing will always be around, but children grow so fast and life changes quickly. Treasuring the fleeting moments will not only make you a better mother, but it will also make you a better writer because you will have learned to slow down, observe and engage in the meaningful parts of life.
Motivation comes in many different forms. My children motivate me to be a better person and writer. Ultimately, even though I write for myself, I write for them because my life is their story. Every decision I make; every moment we spend defines them as people. They each have distinct personalities, love maps and desires, but I have the ability to mold and shape them into men and women of character, just like I can do with my novel’s characters. What will you do today to further your children’s stories?
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