Note To Self: Life is Not A Sprint

I know I’ve mentioned before my deep-seated need to learn patience, but I’m going to mention it again, since it didn’t sink into my thick skull the last time I mentioned it. I have to remember that it’s neither possible nor advisable to do ALL THE THINGS immediately and at once. Because I really want to. I always want to, but it leads to me being unhappy despite a number of things that should have me over the moon.

What started me thinking about it is the editing I’m in the middle of. It’s going well, don’t get me wrong. I’m plugging away at my stand-alone novella, and making good progress with it. But it’s not going at the warp speed I’d like it to. You know, where I’d be done already. That I need time to think about this and how I’m subtly reshaping it isn’t the point. I want to be done so I can move on to the next task on my never-ending list. I don’t want to rush through this and do a bad job, one that will cost me more time later, but I look at my to-do list and all the stories waiting and feel pressured to get it all done NOW.

I know I shouldn’t. I’m still (kinda) young at 34, enough to have what will hopefully be a long career ahead of me. I keep telling myself I have all the time in the world to write and share all these stories buzzing around in my head with everyone who wants to read them. Worse, I’m robbing myself of a fair amount of joy. The joy of finishing, of beginning, even of editing. Believe it or not, I love editing, the chance to make the story better, to refine it so it can shine to my readers. But right now, I’m having trouble feeling that love, because I’m too busy staring down the road and adding up all the things that are waiting for me to have time for them.

I used to live in the moment in a good way, savoring the things I was doing, thinking that the next thing would come when I was done this and I’ve somehow lost that in the last few months. I don’t know what happened to derail my zen, but if you see it, please direct it to come home. I need it back. I need to enjoy what I’m doing, to remember that there will always be a next thing, as there is always a tomorrow. I need to get back to understanding that my life can only be lived one day at a time, with no way to speed time up. It’s not a sprint and that’s actually a good thing.

So I’m going to try it. I’ve been sort of trying it for the past couple of days. Instead of telling myself I have to finish editing by a certain date or get so much of it done that night, I decided to look at it more holistically. Have I gotten some of the work done? Did it improve the piece? If so, then I’m accomplished for the night. I can stop if I hit part that I need to think on, or just make a note of the problem and carry on. I’m having to remind myself every five minutes that this attitude is okay, but that’s fine. I’ll get there in time, I figure. This is just the process of getting back to being okay with things not happening instantly, to not rushing through things until I don’t enjoy them.

That doesn’t mean I’m not doing multiple things at once. I am. I always do, because it’s just the way I think, and that’s okay too. Mostly at the moment, I’m making revision notes about Unmasked as they come to me. I might make some noticeable changes to it when I come back to it, or maybe not. I’m mostly just writing everything I think of, and I’ll sort it out later. I don’t really feel ready to start building Book 2 of Masques yet, though I’m making the occasional note on that too as things come. The work I’ve been doing on the novella is significant enough that I’m letting that be my focus.

One thing at a time. One step. One story. The rest will come in time.

About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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12 Responses to Note To Self: Life is Not A Sprint

  1. dex says:

    Love this: “One thing at a time. One step. One story. The rest will come in time.”

  2. Celtic Forest Dweller says:

    Another thing I need to learn myself. Goodness, Julie, you have so many smart posts! If only I were as good at remembering all these things…

    • Julie says:

      Lol, you think I remember all of this in my daily life. HAHAHAHA. I only wish. I write them down so I can come back to them and remind myself. I’m definitely still struggling with this one, and expect I will for a long time, if not forever. Glad I’m not the only one getting something out of these though. 🙂

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Writing requires so much patience, doesn’t it? I’ve done many different things in my life, but I think writing a novel has taken the most patience. It takes a long time to get to the finished product, and unlike other accomplishments, there are not many rewards (if any) along the way. But then one day, it’s finished. And then we move onto the next one…

    • Julie says:

      I think patience is the biggest qualification to be a writer that I sorely lack. But you’re right, it does require a lot of patience, particularly to do it right and not publish/query too early. Otherwise you’re not putting your best work out there.

      And yes, it requires a near infinite supply of patience as you go from one project to the next. And the next. 🙂

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        At least when you’re working on a degree or a major project at work, there are milestones along the way that reinforce the journey and make it easier to get through (an A in a class or praise from a boss). Not so for the lonely writer. 🙂

        • Julie says:

          I know. There are so many days where I want to find someone and say “Am I doing this right? I don’t think I’m doing this right. Please tell me how to do this right!”

          I don’t think there’s an answer to that question either, which irks me all the more. There is no path, it seems, only stumbling through the forest, praying you’re not as lost as you feel. :p

          • Carrie Rubin says:

            And woe is us when we reach the stage where we’re convinced our work is crap, or when we’re bored with the work, because we just need to forge ahead regardless!

          • Julie says:

            Oh, so you did install the spy camp on my computer. I’m at exactly that point (it’s all crap) with multiple manuscripts at the moment. I’m not giving up or anything, but man, do I want to cry a bit some days as I plunge through this forest.

            Wait, isn’t that the same tree I passed before?

          • Carrie Rubin says:

            Hear, hear. I know your pain.

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