Part-time Creative: My rules for surviving the battle

Cheryl-StrayedCall me a weekend warrior, if by weekend warrior you mean someone who actually stays in and struggles to be creative and productive on the weekends (and weekday nights). I’m certainly going to war, but not with shots of tequila or complicated bongs. My adversaries are mostly my exhaustion, anxiety, self-doubt, and Netflix account. They all distract and prevent me from writing in my spare time, something that many of us with day jobs are forced to do.

There is only an incredibly small percentage of people who are lucky enough to pursue their creative dreams 100%. Most of us have to walk a fine line of full-time employment and part-time creativity in order to follow our dreams, and it’s exhausting.

The most important thing to remember is that different things work for different people. There isn’t just one process for navigating this situation, so figure out what works for you and stick with it until it doesn’t work. YA author Susan Dennard has an incredible series about how to maximize your productivity, and I highly recommend everyone take a look at it. You can follow her plan exactly, or you can bastardize her ideas and make them your own. That’s kind of what I did, and I will share my personal rules with you in the hopes that they will help you too.

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Pinterest and Writing

pinterest-pinboard-600I had a crazy idea today, and I’m hoping I struck genius gold. I’m not sure how genius gold differs from real gold or just plain genius…I don’t know, I’m recovering from an illness so my mind isn’t quite right. Just go with it.

Maybe I’m not the first to come up with this particular idea, but I’ll certainly take credit for it! It’s very common for writers to create playlists to help us get in the right head-space to work on a particular project. I love the process of creating specific playlists. It’s another way for me to learn more about my setting and characters. Which song most accurately depicts the ora of this town? What song would she listen to after her heart’s been broken? What song would be laid behind this scene in a movie? Making the playlist that guides me through each story is almost better than writing the story itself. But what about those of us who are also greatly affected by visuals? Shouldn’t we have a sort of visual playlist to get us in the mood as well?

Enter Pinterest! I just started using Pinterest a few months ago. I boycotted it for a long time because I thought only desperate housewives and boring girls who only thought about weddings all day used it. But then I realized how helpful it is for storing ideas and discovering fun recipes! It also caters to my OCD organizational habits quite nicely. I have a board for my dream house, a board for recipes, a board for desserts, and board for style, a board for books, a board for films, but NOT a board for weddings! I refuse. But I’ll admit it’s hard to resist. Those pins are just so damn pretty!

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My Writing Debate: For me or for publication

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This might be kind of like a manifesto (the first of many, I’m sure).

I have always stretched myself thin. In high school I juggled everything: band (wind ensemble, jazz, marching, and pep), sports (soccer and track), drama club, student council, honor society, music honor society, tutoring, a part-time job, and my school work. College was even worse, adding on three more part-time jobs, a 100% full course load, and a ton of extra curriculars (working on friends’ film sets, writing for campus publications, running writing groups, etc). It hurt me then, dividing my attention and diluting my work. Be involved, sure! But maybe not to the point of nervous break downs and anxiety attacks.

I’m much less busy these days, which upsets me. In a positive light, I’d like to be more involved in community activities, maybe explore some new hobbies (I’m getting really into baking and knitting, at least), and just enrich my life more outside of work. But this is also extending to my writing. I feel like need to write everything and be everywhere. It’s splitting me in all different directions and causing some serious confusion. That’s the negative.

My writing spans multiple media. I write journalistic pieces, blogs, scripts, business documents, essays, and prose. I have the technical ability to write all of them, but if I continue to focus on each I’ll never master any. So a frustrating battle has started to rage inside of me: do I try to get more work published and truly attempt a life as a freelancer (which is nearly impossible today)? Or should I leave that behind and devote all my time to fiction? It’s difficult to suppress my overachiever personality.

I have also always loved getting my work out there and posting articles I’d written to Facebook to prove to people that I was relevant and, in fact, a writer. But in order to commit to a life of self-affirmation via Facebook, you have to leave everything else behind and become a monster. Sounds tiring.

But there’s more to this…

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