“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped much, much more than a moment."

—John Steinbeck

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Have you ever avoided someone because there was something you meant to do and didn't? Like write a thank you note or return a call or send an email? Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. You meant to write or call or clear up the tangled lines of communication, but life got in the way and time rolled on until a heavy sense of awkwardness started to cloud the relationship. Slowly, you begin to avoid the situation...and the person. You've got the proverbial elephant in the room on a leash, and he delightfully tags along to every conversation and event that involves you and that other person. You know what you SHOULD do, but don't for a jambalaya of reasons.

Sometimes, though, the other party in the situation isn't a person at all, but a task or commitment.

My blog became "that" person. "That" task. "That" situation.

When I last posted back in April (GASP!) I wrote about relaxing my focus on my creative projects to go with the flow more. To feel which projects were calling me. To remove the pressure of the Project 180 challenge and work on only the projects that truly spoke to me. Seeing a month and a half of silence staring back at me, I realize doing this was good and bad. Here are a few things I learned:


#1: I Am NOT A Go-With-The-Flow-Kind Of Girl.

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And you know what? I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm celebrating the fact that I am a planner. I am a go-getter. And even the fact that sometimes I have a really hard time finding that happy place between the two extremes of working nonstop and needing a good, swift kick in the pants to get myself moving.

I'm ok with it because it's made me realize I need some sense of structure. I need a sense of order to my creative chaos. Throwing my many projects into the air like a deck of cards and the approach, "Let's just see how they fall and we'll go from there" is not an effective plan for someone like me who may or may not have a touch of ADD.

To begin making sense of my cluttered creativity, I started assigning a task to each day of the week. I began to plan ahead. By doing this I don't feel the pressure to work on all of my projects at one time. I can come home from work on a Monday evening and feel okay about not writing a query letter, because Monday evenings are for working on Re.Told Journals. I'll tackle the query letters on Tuesday; Tuesdays are set apart for working on independent freelance projects. And, because I planned ahead and wrote the week's blog posts on Saturday morning, come midweek I won't have to endure guilt or self-deprecation for not having posted anything yet. Ahhh...sweet relief.

Physically, all of this is easier to orchestrate because I'm setting limits on sleep and exercise. I may not be able to get eight hours every night, but I won't allow myself to get less than six. Exercise is once again a constant in my life.  A few months ago, I sacrificed both to give myself more time to write. Bad idea. Creativity came to a screeching halt, I tossed and turned in my sleep and my self-confidence plummeted. Now regular physical activity is scheduled into my day just like the full-time job, projects and freelance story deadlines.

#2: Less Really Is More

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I used to be a craft hoarder. I had had oodles of supplies for projects I regularly pursued, and even more of those I thought I might try someday. You know, just in case I got the urge to take up sewing (for the record, I can't even sew a button) or knitting (my sister-in-law makes it look soooo easy).

Then, last year, when I began making my Re.Told Journals, I decided there wasn't room in my studio for everything. It was time to let go of some of the other projects and accept that I wouldn't finish that afghan I promised my sister. I'll purchase one of my sister-in-law's beautiful creations instead. I'm not going to make my own intricately beaded necklaces and bracelets. But I can support fellow artists on Etsy who do.

Currently, I focus on three creative outlets: Re.Told Journals, needle felting and the occasional scrapbook project (only because I'm still trying to finish my wedding album...5 years later). Materials for anything else found new homes. With the studio organized, it was time to apply the same strategy to my list of writing and creative projects.

When I last posted I was cranking out Re.Told Journals for local galleries, my Etsy shop and the occasional independent sale and art fair. I was writing feverishly for five local and regional publications on a freelance basis, while pursuing story ideas to pitch to larger, national publications. I was creating, marketing and never successfully filling six different creative journaling workshops. I was researching an independent writing project. I was writing the rough drafts to two picture books. No need to even dig into the 20 more book ideas, creative projects and reading lists strewn about my overly clutter, foggy, aching head. Oh, and I was working full-time.

What I once enjoyed doing when I left the day job, projects that ignited my creative spark, felt like way too much work. Even the teeniest task on my to-do list seemed to require way too much effort. Eventually, I stopped making journals. I stopped researching story ideas. I stopped running. I even stopped blogging. Yep. I was burned out.

Something had to give, or I was going to give. It was difficult, but by prioritizing my projects and allowing some to sit in the wings, I was able to pick myself up and start moving again. I was able to give one thing more of my attention and, in turn, a better chance of it growing into something big.

#3: Write for An Audience of One

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When I was a kid, I wrote because I liked to write. I didn't care if anyone was going to read my work. I wasn't expecting feedback. There was no fear in doing it wrong. And without all those fall expectations, the pen glided across the pages with a wildly imaginative mind all its own.

In college, I dreaded sharing my work in my creative writing classes. While the other students wrote complex dramas involving drunken decisions and gut-wrenching love triangles fit for Lifetime made-for-TV movie, I came to class with my Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary inspired tales, most of which documented the ridiculous shenanigans my sisters, cousins and I found ourselves in summer after summer. How fast can you say outcast?

To fit in, I tried my hand at penning some college angst lit. It was disastrous. There is a reason for the saying "Write what you know."

Sometimes I think my creative writing professors passed me just so they wouldn't have to read another juvenile tale unfit for the stuffy standards of academia. If they did, I'll never know because I was enjoying the writing process. I was proud of my work. It was real and a part of me.

It's a lesson I'm trying to carry over into my blogging. Sure, it's a rush to read comments and check the stats. And I deeply appreciate each and every person who kindly takes the time to read my words or drop a note. But that's just the butter on the popcorn. (I'm a crunchy, salty snacks kind of girl.)

First and foremost, this blog began as a way for me to engage in the writing process more regularly. Second, it was a means of organizing my thoughts as I sloughed 20-something bewilderment and traded it for 30-something purpose. Third, I wanted to use my writing to inspire others trying to live out their creative purpose. That last reason is incredibly dear to me, but I'm learning it shouldn't be anymore important than the first two.

It feels a bit clumsy and rigid, but the pen is moving again. Perhaps the words read a bit rusty, perhaps the thoughts are a bit scattered, but there is movement.

Sometimes, in order to take the next step
we must revisit our reasons for the first.