January 4th. Alright, who has already fallen behind on their resolutions? Who has already cheated on their healthy eating kick because they thought it would be just downright disrespectful to throw out your family baking? Who tried going to the gym but turned around at the site of the overflowing parking lot? Who tried to go outside and disconnect from the world but only to have a snow squall make you opt for the couch and Netflix?
The struggle is real my friends!
I feel yah. I too have a list of resolutions that I would love to accomplish this year and I already know that it did not start on the right foot. For instance, I wanted to post this blog on the first day of the year, yes, self-high-five for already missing that small and insignificant goal.
My followers may have seen my handful of posts mentioning my WIP (work in progress). It’s a historical fiction book based on my husband’s grandmother’s memories from World War Two living in occupied Holland (blog tag here). However, since the launch of my debut novel January 2019, my writing took a back seat. I had worked so hard to get my debut novel out, I had burnt out. I finally understood how deep the struggle of an indie writer actually runs. Even though I realized my exhaustion and was taking some personal time away from my laptop and my brightly coloured editing pens, it still stressed knowing that I was not working on this highly anticipated (by so many friends and family) book.
What did not help my increasing and uncalled for anxiety was social media. The sheer volume of daily notifications from Facebook and Instagram displaying people achieving their goals. Not that posting is a bad thing, and honestly in this world, each win, regardless of size or meaning, deserves to be applauded. However, viewing post after post about completed marathons, dozens of pounds lost, another book published, going carbon neutral, banning all plastic in their life, left me wondering why I had not reached that level of fulfillment while sitting with my one self-published book, a waist two sizes too big and my produce wrapped in single use bags that made my stomach twist in contempt.
It was exhausting, the constant nit picking and dissection of my everyday habits. I had to come up with a game plan and change the way I viewed my journey and goals.
First, I realized that spending time on my phone, planning my posts, watching my fluctuating number of followers and stats was outweighing the good with the bad. I had to take a break from social media, stop treating it like a job, and more of a hobby. Did my numbers falter, for sure, did it bum me out, yup, but now I will proceed in a manner that makes me happy not simply to increase my followers. They will find me… eventually.
Second, I had to stop comparing myself to other people (most of whom I never met and will never meet) as I realized it was not the most productive thing to do in my day. For example, one of my oldest and dearest friends whom I am very proud of and thrilled to have in my life, is a successful entrepreneur, runs multiple businesses, travels the world, speaks at events, is a notable influencer, wrote a book, landed a fiancé and bought a dream home – most of which was done this past year, nay, in the past few months. She is kicking butt and taking names! But then here I am, knowing that I grew up with this girl, only months a part in age, watching her make professional deals for breakfast while I desperately swim through the pile of dirty dishes because I forgot to turn on the dishwasher the prior night all while my children are notifying me that they are out of clean underwear. Is it fair to compare myself to her, no, do I do it anyways, sure! I at least now, do not let it get to me, I have that moment of self-deflation, but then realize that I am doing what I love, in my life, with my own circumstances and I will determine its route. No one is on the same road and we need to navigate it the best way we know how.
And last but not least, I had to deal with self-doubt, the “imposter syndrome”, and I consistently worried that I would not be able to deliver the book that my grandmother-in-law and her story deserves. It did not help my uphill battle when the first ever posted review of my debut novel, not written by a friend or family member, was simply atrocious. I have learned to acknowledge my weaknesses but also to be proud of what I have accomplished. So, I say “to hell with crap reviews” (you cannot please everyone) and not having an agent or a big publisher pushing my book, or that I have never received a writing award, nor completed a Master’s degree in creative writing and that I do not have a best friend like Margaret Atwood (that would be cool though). I know that the self-doubt was and will always be present but I have realized that these are my words, my passion, and if I do not do it, no one will.
Now with my head on a little bit straighter and a clearer war path laid out ahead of me, I return back to my resolution. My goal is to complete the book and publish by November 2020. In order to do so, I know I will require a little more personal accountability to take time out of carpools, sports, school functions, daily house chores and my search for a part-time job. I have decided I am going to daily post a snippet of my writing journey. A simple snapshot of where I find the time to sit and write, even if it is for 10 minutes sitting in my car waiting for my children to get out of school or for an hour after the house has gone quiet on a perfectly cleaned dining table. Regardless I promise to use no filters, to not set up the “perfect social media shot”, just simple window into my life, such as the following example: January 1st which I happily call “finding a spot amongst the New Year’s Eve celebration dumping grounds”.
This is not to bore all my followers to nauseam, but an entertaining way to show just how ridiculous this writing journey can be and also to keep myself on track to complete my next book. It is also meant to help other struggling writers, from those holding down full-time jobs to the parents who are home with newborns as well as the hard-working students, or for whomever struggles to find time to nurture their passionate hobby. I hope you all find solace knowing that you are not alone and can share some good laughs with me.
Regardless if you are a writer or not, or what your 2019 looked like and whatever you have planned for 2020, I wish you all an amazing and productive year.