My answer to “How do you do it?”

When people first meet me and learn that I am a really, truly busy person- they ask “how do you do it?” or say “I could never do it” 

Here’s what’s on my plate: A full time job, I’m a full time student. I have 3 kids. I have 2 books coming out this year. I am learning a new language. I teach bellydance. I blog here and about bento lunches. Etc. 

I’ll be honest with you. These are my secrets to not drowning in life.

1. I have an amazing family. My boyfriend is basically the best human being I could have chosen to have kids with. He loves and takes care of his family and will make allowances for my creative personality. I try not to fore him to take on everything, especially since he also has a full time job and full course-load, but he picks up my slack on the home front 90% of the time. My parents are wonderful to have close-by as they are absolutely essential for my mental well-being. The grandparents of y kids take a lot of the work off of my shoulders (like combing and styling their curly hair regularly…). I can’t imagine how many extra hours we would have to (ironically) work to be able to afford child care, especially at the level of care we get from from our parents. Even the “extended” family is always ready and willing to step in and lend a had, whatever that may mean at the time. 

I guess the secret part here is to not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes it takes a few tries and sometimes it takes a conversation along the lines of “This is actually, seriously important to me. If I am important to you, I NEED you to take this seriously.” A lot of times the knee-jerk reaction to “I need some time alone” or “I need time to write” or “I need time to work on my art” (or homework) is to say “make your own time” or “I need time too” or just to not take it very seriously. I find that not attacking people for their kee-jerk reactions is best, keeps them open minded and it’s not a surprise to get a call later from them saying “Okay, here’s what I CAN do for you”. 

2. Go for it. 

It’s basically the most cliche thing ever to say “just do it”, but really you have to. Believe it or not, people ask me how to go about writing a book. The best advice I can give, the best advice I’ve heard and the best advice I’ve taken, is “write a book.” Write a beginning, a middle, and an end. Arrange them into that order if they aren’t already there. It’s not “build a platform, get a degree, join a critique group, etc.” You want to write a book? Write the book first, then work on it. WRITE the book, then have it critiqued. Write it, THEN revise it. Then “abandon” it. Send it to publishers, agents, editors, etc. Don’t get stuck in trying to make it the est it can possibly be ever- because it will never be finished. At some point you have to write all the words, and at some point you have to decide that it is good enough for consumption. Can you imagine working on a sandwich until it’s PERFECT? You would starve. Don’t starve your readers, even if they’re only potential readers.

 

That’s it. Do it, and ask for help. I guess a bonus tip would be to accept that at some point you WILL get overwhelmed and you should be willing to give something up. Having a backup plan is sometimes enough to get you through the hard times (I learned that in Psychology). For me, I know the dates when I can drop a class is my full course load becomes too muc to handle. I know that if I absolutely ave to, I can (probably) temporarily work part-time. I have vacation time if I really, really need to take a break. The deadlines for my books are flexible enough that if I have to push things back a little to do well in school or deal with sick kids (or lose an entire day in the hospital because they got to a bottle of Tylenol…) it’s not going to ruin my life. If I need things to slow down, I can make that happen. 

Bonus tip #2, don’t feel like a failure. Failure is part of life. Feeling like you look dumb is a part of life. At some point you have to let it go and live your life.  

 

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