Anchoring Yourself in the Real World While Living in Your Story World
Writers are weird. Face it, we’re a unique breed. We hear voices and make up stories and create worlds and torture characters to make them grow. We stare at a computer for hours on end, talk to people who aren’t there, draw strange-looking charts. We laugh and cry (sometimes manically) while we type. We yell at our computer screen, yell at ourselves, and maybe even yell at some poor, unsuspecting soul who interrupts up at a critical moment (but then apologize profusely, of course). We own towering stacks of books that can almost take over a house, buy pens in every color, and collect sticky notes in every shape and size.
See, we sound weird, don’t we? :)
Yes, we often live in our story world. And that’s the way it needs to be while we’re putting down that first draft or doing the initial planning for a story. But we need to be able to change gears back to real life when it’s time. It can be tough to learn to do when we work at home. I think it's especially difficult yet important at holiday times when more of our family members are around...more of the time.
I took an amazing online class with Shirley Jump in November. And I used her class to plan a new plot for a proposal that hadn’t been up to par. I’ve been totally focused on that new proposal over the last few weeks. So focused that I let lots of other things go (like Christmas shopping!). I just sent the work out for critique late last week and felt like I had come out from under a rock once I sent it. My kids had been getting on me for being so distracted, especially once they were out of school for the Christmas holiday. And I admit I came away from the writing in a sort of panic that I’d never get everything done by Christmas.
So how do we anchor ourselves in the real world while submersing ourselves in the story world? Balance. I need to learn balance. Here are just a few thoughts on how to try to do that better.
I know those suggestions are fairly vague. Maybe for the new year, I’ll try to figure out a plan to do better and post on that sometime later. But since I imagine I’m not the only writer out there who struggles with this (did you have a December deadline or some other project you’ve been working on that you needed to finish in December?), I thought I’d offer my solution for catching up.
--Turn off/shut the computer at a certain time each day and stick to that!
--Work at your most productive times of day if possible.
--Set priorities and, if needed, let some things go.
--Don’t get sucked into time on the Internet. Set limits and maybe even a timer.
--Budget time as well as money. Set aside time for each activity.
So what do I do when I come out of my cave to find Christmas won’t wait?
I buy gifts that reach out and help others. And buy them in honor of my friends and loved ones.
Don’t buy your dad a tie he doesn’t need or your sister a pair of house slippers just like last year. Check with your favorite charitable organizations and see what gifting opportunities they offer. Today, I’ll share a few of my favorites and some that a couple of the Seeker ladies told me they use.
Myra Johnson and I both love the options with World Vision. Last year, I sent soccer balls to Africa in honor of my nephew, Buster Posey, who plays for the San Francisco Giants (I mean, what on earth can I buy the guy who could buy just about anything he wants??). I also contributed to maternal health in Afghanistan in honor of his wife. I’ve bought backpacks/school supplies for children in third world countries in honor of my dad (who grew up very poor, one of the youngest in a family of 12 kids, so I knew that would mean a lot to him).
Myra says, “I just made donations to World Vision in honor of my agent and our daughters and sons-in-law. World Vision has many different areas where your gifts can go, including animals, clean water, education, girls & women, and so many more! You can request a printed card or an e-card to be sent to your honoree, or you can print your own card. I enjoy selecting a gift that would have special meaning to the person I'm honoring."
To check out the World Vision catalogue, click here: World Vision
Myra says she has also given through Heifer International many times. And I believe I remember Ruthy saying the same thing. With this organization, you can give an animal or a share of an animal to help people around the world learn to be self-reliant. It can help them with income and food production.
To check out Heifer International, click here.
Tired of buying the same teacher gifts (for church and school teachers)? Years ago, we began giving to the United Methodist Children’s Home in honor the all my kids’ many teachers. They always seemed to appreciate it. And I even got one sweet thank you note that said the teacher’s father had grown up in a U.M. Children’s home (a different one). I’ve also donated here in honor of my editor, agent, close friends, our church and family members.
To check out the United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, Georgia, click here.
Julie Lessman shared she donates clean drinking water in honor of her publisher and agent. She told me that her church is part sponsor/creator of a wonderful Christmas program called Advent Conspiracy, where the whole concept is to give "presence" instead of "presents," so the four components are: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. All money goes to digging wells for people in third-world countries who do not have clean drinking water.
To check out the Advent Conspiracy website, click here.
Each year at our church, the Missions Committee sells items made by workers from around the world to help provide them income. They also offer a chance to buy gifts in honor, and the money goes toward local missions. They then send a beautiful handmade ornament to the recipients of the honor. The money raised for these go to The Light (local homeless shelter), Peace Place (shelter for battered women and their children), Habitat for Humanity, the Murphy-Harpst Home (residential center for abused children), The Tree House (to reduce the impact and occurrence of child abuse) and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. Another that’s not actually local but is a mission our church supports is Life for Children Ministries, (supporting AIDS orphans in Kenya). I made use of all these this year! Most of my family members are getting these gifts. :)
|My son on one of his Africa mission trips|
One thing to keep in mind since today is December 19: These are great for last minute gifts. Most will let you print a gift card to present to your recipient. And most will also email or snail mail acknowledgments.
To follow up on the Ruthy’s offer a week or so ago when she challenged us to ring the Salvation Army bell, I’m going to offer a hot off the presses copy of A House Full of Hope (now available for pre-order!) to one commenter who makes a donation in honor of someone. To enter, go make a donation to one of these organizations or to the organization of your choice, and then let me know in your comment. If you’ve already done so recently as a Christmas gift, then let me know that and you’ll be entered. This is on the honor system here. I’ll believe you. No need to send a receipt. :) I’ll put all the names in a hat (well, I’ll actually use the cool online number randomizer) to pick one winner.
This turned into a long post. Bless you for making it this far!! We’d love to hear about your favorite charity or organization you volunteer for! (Okay, Grammar Queen, I know I ended in a preposition. But come one, who would say, "We'd love to hear about your favorite charity or organization for which you volunteer.") ;)
A House Full of Hope (from Love Inspired Feb. 2012)
A widowed mom of four finds hope of love in the most unlikely of places when the former bad boy who ruined her sister returns to town seeking redemption.
Before becoming a Christian, Mark Ryker ran with a bad crowd and broke hearts. Including his father’s. Now a successful businessman, Mark has come home to Corinthia, Georgia, to make amends. But no one will forgive him. So when the widowed mother of four renting his dad’s run-down house needs help fixing up the place, Mark gets to work. Pretty Hannah Hughes and her sweet kids have him longing to be part of the clan, but Hannah isn’t ready to let go of the past. Still, they are working together on a house full of hope—and that’s all Mark needs.