Sunday, August 03, 2008

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Willpower

I recently lost twenty-five pounds. Many times I’ve tried to “lose a few pounds,” but I never took it too seriously, nor did I manage to last longer than an unbearable craving or looming special event. So let’s just be honest. I lack willpower and discipline. These are unfortunately two big traits I need to master if I’m going to keep working full time, mother my children, continue to be happily married and take my writing seriously.
After a full day at the office, homework and dinner, it’s much easier to “veg out” with an episode of “Seinfeld” than to sit at the computer and bang out an essay or the next chapter of my book.

Finally losing the weight, however, did teach me some things that I can carry over into my writing life. The most important thing is that I can have the discipline and willpower when I really want it. For me, the looming 40 was the constant chant in my head. I wanted to feel great when I blew out my candles. So I know I can accomplish things if I really, truly want them. No matter what.

Getting what you think you want isn’t always the same once you get it. Now, whenever I hear quotes on TV infomercials and the women say, “I look better now than I did in my twenties,” I know they are lying or they didn’t look that great in their 20’s. Aging is just a reality we have to accept. Unless you have plastic surgery things just aren’t going to be in the same places they used to be. And if you’ve had children, chances are your body is a whole new playground. So it’s important to embrace the best you can be right now. The same is true in your writing. If you’re writing poems, short stories, essays, but you’re not working on that novel, accept what you’re accomplishing now. Were you doing this much six months ago? A year ago? As long as you’re moving forward, you’re moving so don’t put pressure on yourself to win the Pulitzer next year.

Anything you truly want takes work. I thought twenty five pounds wouldn’t be a lot of weight to lose. The average weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, right? So I thought I’d be svelte in three months max. Well, my average weight loss was only half a pound a week. It ended up taking about eight months to lose the weight I wanted. I had to keep working and not give up. I still have to work at maintaining my new weight, just like I have to work to put my butt (albeit smaller) in the chair every night to write. The life changes for me are huge right now. I’m asking myself to be healthy, to create, to manage my household, and to not feel guilty for concentrating on something that is important to my self esteem.

Lastly, don’t expect changes in your life to make a dramatic impact right away. When I reached my goal weight my life didn’t suddenly become happier. Everything was basically the same - I was just occupying a smaller space - but I felt better physically and mentally because I saw something through till the end. With writing, just because I’m doing it doesn’t mean the world is waiting with baited breath to read my words. I’ll have to work hard to get my words out there. I’ll probably even have to read this piece over and over again. I need constant reminders on why I should “hunt and peck” at 10 o’clock at night and why I should bring grapes to my desk instead of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups!

1 comment:

Lois J. de Vries said...

Just to put things into perspective, I've lost 18 pounds and kept it off --- but it took 5 years and I still have 1 pound to go. Same with writing. We need to stop up our ears about how fast our society thinks everything should happen. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually we will reach our goals.