I’ve always struggled to finish writing projects. Since finishing NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve added just a bit over ten thousand words to that project (which is also my project for this year). I’ve felt embarrassed by that. How can I be so diligent to write for a month and then barely work on my work-in-progress for a year?
I have so many books outlined, half finished manuscripts and screenplays, collections of short stories and poems sitting in my closet and my hard drive.
I love creating. I love writing. I love ideas and the potential of possibilities.
But I’m also in a certain season of life. I’m a wife to a pastor. I’m a homeschooling mother to four children, ages four to eleven. I lead our women’s ministry and our Wild + Free nature group. I do a lot. I’m well aware of that. Many people have told me over the years I do too much (and that I make them feel bad about themselves or, in their own words, “put me to shame” by doing what I do🙄…but that’s a topic for another day) and that is the struggle. Maybe I do do too much.
Maybe I don’t.
Either way, the peanut gallery doesn’t get to decide.
The other night I was sharing frustrations with my husband about a particular issue and how it’s stolen my mental energy and physical time, becoming another obstacle keeping me from focusing on or accomplishing other goals. That conversation spiraled into an exasperation on the limitations of my time and energy divided over my interests feeling they steal from each other.
My husband encouraged me in two ways by asking,
Who do you do these things for?
Do you feel God has called you to these things?
I know God has called me to serve in these ways…in homeschooling, in writing, in teaching women to know the Word, in gathering a community of families in nature, in caring for the church family alongside my husband, in mothering, and in building a home. I do these things not for myself. If I was in it for the feel good, happy, easy results I would’ve quit them all multiple times over. And don’t think I haven’t tried.
For so long I’ve tried to divide myself among these different categories. Feeling I could only truly be one, that it’s only socially acceptable to have one persona, so to speak, one interest or ambition. I’ve been the homeschool blogger, the fiction writer, the mother artist, the Christian blogger, the church lady, the nature mom, and even the scrapbooking blogger at one point.
The problem is I am not just one of these things. I am not only mom or writer, homeschooler or bible teacher. I am all of them. They are all defining parts of who I am, how I process life, make decisions, and live my day to day.
I create, write, think, and dream in each of these areas. To limit myself to only one or to have one in my public life and keep the others behind the scenes only leads to frustration. I know, I’ve lived that frustration off and on for years.
I’m not a fragmented person and it’d make sense for my writing and creative projects to reflect the same.
In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a few authors share their stack of published books as a reminder of how far they’ve come, the different paths God has led them on, and the work they’ve done when they feel like they’re failing or are struggling to accomplish new goals. I thought that was a good exercise and, honestly, wished I had a stack of books to show for my efforts, cycling me back toward the “How come I didn’t add more words to this WIP this year!?”
But then I began to think about this year and what I have done:
- studied for, researched, & written 3 Bible studies
- will release the 2nd edition of Journey, my Advent book (soon!)
- updated Back to School Planning Guide
- returned to daily journaling
- added 10,000 words to my WIP
- read 50 books (so far)
- organized weekly nature activities for our local W+F
- organized & led one workshop, two bible studies, and monthly events for my church’s women’s ministry
- Homeschooled. Whew. Enough said.
And in my author’s backlist?
- Journey: Advent Letters for Sojourners
- Montessori: Back to School Planning Guide, Montessori Planner, Theme Units – Johnny Appleseed, Thanksgiving
- WIP (fiction) – The Unchosen
- WIP (non-fiction) – untitled project on sojourning, Build a Life: Montessori Pedagogy in the Home
- Montessori: Theme Unit – The Human Body, All About Me
- eBooks: Making Peace with Christmas: A Christmas Planning Guide, Bitterness to Healing: Our Miscarriage Story, Find Your Voice: 21 Days to Writing
- Bible Studies: Philippians, The Battle of Insignificance
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Short Stories
- Poetry Collection
Obviously, I have a problem with finishing. Or, at least, taking a finished draft to publication.
This list isn’t to show how much I’ve done or looking for praise. But it is a reminder that I have written, I have worked, and I have finished projects…they just may not all be in one genre or on an author’s page on Amazon. The encouragement for me is progress and embracing a full life, as a whole person.
The trajectory of an unfragmented life is not linear.
Where are you discouraged that you haven’t made progress?
How can you look at your life and see you have grown?