Inspired by Allison Morton’s guest blog post on Anne Stormont’s website.
What I wish would happen vs. what happens in actual life. See if you can guess which is the real version 🙂
Wake up. Holy fuck, I slept in again! The last thing I remember is getting up to pee at 3:36 am and the neighbors honking a car horn and some laughing across the street. And the cat wants water AGAIN (two of them drink straight from the tap). At the time I thought, “Okay, I have 2.5 hours until I need to get up, that’s like taking a nap. No problem.”
I should not have gone back to sleep.
So I get up and feed the cats, then the betta fish. I notice the betta’s water temp is a few degrees lower than it should be and take measures to heat things up. I don’t have an aquarium heater because it’s always pretty warm where I live. Then I clean up the kitchen; put away dishes, make sure mom’s coffee maker is ready for her morning coffee, etc. I put the kettle on for my coffee and set out to empty the litter boxes. One cat vomits all his breakfast on the floor in partially digested puddles. I clean that up. I resume the journey to cleaning the litter boxes. I notice someone (who shall remain nameless) has peed outside two of the three boxes. I clean up more puddles. I disinfect the floor. Then I empty the fucking litter boxes.
I go back into the kitchen and make my coffee. I take my coffee back to my office/room and set it down on my desk. I realize I have not emptied the betta’s litter box (siphoning out the poop). So I do that. Then I wash my hands, brush my teeth, wash my face. I greet my maternal progenitor and, after making sure she’s all settled for the morning, I sit down at my desk (an hour and a half after waking up) and try to write.
My coffee mug lives next to the betta fish’s tank and every time I pick it up and take a drink he lunges at the glass. His threat displays are epic. One day, he will kill the shit out of my coffee mug.
I try tackling a half-written draft of a chapter. I need to switch character POVs and decide the company policies that this character has to follow. It is not very exciting.
So I switch to school work. Somewhere in there I have breakfast…and lunch. I’m burned out on school work so I look at the clock and holy shit 5 hours have passed, how is it already 4 pm?
The betta fish gets bored and goes to take a nap on top of the digital thermometer. I bought him a special leaf shaped “betta hammock” that he happily doesn’t give two shits about.
I need a nap. But I don’t take a nap. Instead, I sift through my email and read author newsletters.
No writing gets done.
I love getting newsletters (yes, I’m weird). I look at all the success other authors have and go, “Gee, I wish I had that. That will be me someday. Stay positive. Stay positive. Look at all you’ve—fuck! I’ll never be like these people. Half of them I don’t think their writing is any good, I know [insert name here definitely doesn’t use an editor] and they have over a billion 5 star reviews. How. The. Fuck. Is. That. Possible? I’ll never fit in with readers. Even if I finish my book, no one will want to read it because…etc, etc, etc.”
I stare at the betta fish until the negative thoughts disappear. I have an early dinner with mom and, since I’ve already put in a lot of hours for school stuff today, I cut myself off and watch YouTube videos until I’m tired enough to sleep.
Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day. Sometimes my brain feels like a wad of soggy cheese cloth. It’s winter time, but it doesn’t feel like winter. We’re in for a few more hot days before Jacket and Scarf weather officially starts. Not that I have anywhere to wear jackets and scarves too right now…I’m going to have to go to the grocery store in an evening gown and a full face of makeup to boost my morale.
I wake up before my alarm goes off. Two minutes and 16 seconds before. I win.
The cats are ready for their breakfast and wait patiently in the kitchen for me to dollop out one spoon of wet food from the can for each of them. Then purr and munch pleasantly as they eat, content that all is right with the world.
The betta fish is happy too. He swims up to the surface to get his pellets and then hovers around his beloved Cobalt Neo-Therm aquarium heater. Even though he has a huge fake plant now, with soft leaves to swim between and rest on, and a diving helmet for a cave to hide in, the heater is his favorite “decoration.”
I have morning chores, who doesn’t. I tidy what I didn’t get to from the night before, and then I make my first cup of tea. Before all I drank was coffee, at least 14 cups a day (not exaggerating). But I’ve gone almost 3 weeks without any, and tea makes an acceptable substitute. I’m sleeping better and I’m not as jittery or irritable/anxious as much as I was before. If I can notice this much of a difference now, it was definitely time to stop drinking coffee. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quitting coffee, just taking a break.)
I get dressed and sit down at my desk for my pre-morning brain dump. Other writers call this Morning Pages (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way) I call it thought vomit.
After I clear out all the nonsensical things, I can begin my drafting session for the day. I set myself a 500 word count minimum, and if I write more, I reward myself by buying an ebook off of my wish list.
My pets and family all support me on my writing journey and leave me in peace to do my very important work until I am ready to be social. Every so often a cat wanders in and paws at the betta’s tank or sits on my lap, exuding emotional support.
In Real Life
As you may have guessed by the chaos, Version 1 most accurately represents actual life, however, my betta has a Cobalt aquarium heater and I have switched from coffee to tea and I do feel more mellow and less anxious.
But anxiety and writing are still holding hands. I often battle with imposter syndrome and fear that I won’t be able to finish the projects I love so much.
Whenever I don’t add words to my drafts, I verbally beat myself up. That is not healthy. I hide behind the excuse that I care too much and I’m a failure at being disciplined.
But guess what, y’all? Not writing every day is okay. Not thinking about your manuscript or your publishing business every day is okay. Taking care of yourself is okay. Taking care of your pets and your environment and your family is more than okay 🙂
My ideal writing day is one where I don’t have to exist in real life and I don’t have any problems conveying my ideas into prose. That is a dream. That is impossible.
I wish I had a quick fix for all my negative thoughts. I wish I was a writing robot. I wish I had a million dollars.
My husband, Mr. J says as long as I’m trying (not even trying my best, just trying) I’m doing a good job. I try to focus on doing things, on action, instead of wallowing with the negativity. It’s really hard. Sometimes it’s easy to distract myself with other things, but other times all I want to do is take a nap or binge watch anime. But I have to remind myself that stagnation doesn’t help anybody, and even if I just switch gears and read a book, that’s better than mentally checking out.
Thanks for stopping by and keep on keeping on!
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