Reality Check #DIYMFA

Happy mid-January! Oh gosh, already…

This week’s prompt brought up a variety of topics, because reality’s messy.

Prompt 2

My reality is always crashing down on my sweet sweet naive dreams. Oh you’re going to write when you get back from work? Did you forget you had to make dinner and lunch for the week? Oh right, you don’t even have groceries to cook with, joke’s on you ha ha HA!

How rude.

My reality also involves a lot of procrastinating. Granted, the procrastination doesn’t stop me from dreaming, but time does tend to slip away in between bouts of “I just need a break” and “it’s already 9:30pm!?” (We’ve all been there, right? … Right??)

Balancing everything perfectly is (probably) never going to happen. At least not for me. None of my inboxes have 0 unread emails, my room is still a mess despite finally moving in back in November and coming back from vacation a week and a half ago, there’s a bunch of things to throw out and/or replace, a never ending to-do list, and only 24 hours in a day.

Time management would be fair advice to give, but procrastination tends to kick that to the curb (I wrote about reigning in the procrastinator, even if that battle is still ongoing). As Adam Grant mentions in his fascinating TED Talk, procrastination is a creativity enabler. Hope at last! If I can reign in the chronic procrastination to a manageable level, productivity awaits?

When I taught in Japan, the workload was pretty light, all things considered, but repetitive and dull. I found myself agonizing in boredom every single day, but that’s also when I started my writing blog, wrote a short story, started a new fanfiction, and had a breakthrough to merge two story ideas into one. Thus, my novel was born. (Actually it’s still being born, moving on!)

When I taught at a French University, I was downright drained and exhausted every day. Coming home, I wanted to do two things: rest/recharge, and preferably not think for a few hours (and definitely not speak). I did write here and there, mostly on my blog, but also a short story. It didn’t feel quite as productive.

Balance, then, comes from those rare and precarious moments where I feel stable physically, mentally, and emotionally, and not weighed down with a five ton anchor. It’s knowing when to give yourself permission to take a break because making yourself do “just one more” thing puts that rare balance out of whack, and frankly just isn’t worth it. It’s forgiving yourself for being inconsistent, just as it’s being compassionate towards yourself because, hey, you’re coping with all that crap rather fantastically! 👏

So maybe I haven’t quite achieved or perfected my balance recipe yet, but I have the ingredients. The basics, anyhow, if ingredients are collected over a lifetime (making life the longest quest video game ever?). Reality will always, always find a way to slap us in the face, punch me in the gut, or kick you in the back. And that’s okay, because everyone else also has to come back from that, bruises/crutches showing or not.

As I navigate my own messy life (why don’t I have a career, where am I going to end up in 6 months, what should I dooooo???) and hide within my procrastinator, I’m beginning to relish the small things, focusing on what I can accomplish today, even if it is only one tiny item off my to-do list. Baby steps become a trail of accomplishments.

  • You can only write two sentences before you’re dried up? That’s fine, you’re two sentences ahead of none!
  • You can only read one chapter? No worries! You’ll finish that book one chapter earlier thanks to that!
  • You only feel like writing anime related fanfiction? Be my lovely guest! Writing is writing. ✍️

I have a blurry image of where I want to go, but an even blurrier idea of how to get there – and no, it’s not just because my eyes are terrible (no offense eyes 👀). I’m not walking on a tightrope, and if I happen to lean left one day and take two right steps to correct the next day, I can still move forward because I’ll simply (re)adjust my center of gravity.

Balance is going with the flow, but knowing your limits.

I’m definitely going to work on that procrastinator re-hijacking plan and try to take my own advice.

How do you honor your reality? As per Gabriela (founder of DIY MFA): Has there ever been a moment when writing felt completely incompatible with your real life–when it felt like there was just no way you could make the two exist together? If so, how did you get through that moment? How did you make room in your life for both things? How did you find balance between writing and life?

Honor on,
Ali J.

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