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Monday, September 3, 2012

Keeping the Balls in the Air


Hello.  My name is Amy and I’m a YES-aholic. 

If you’re looking for someone to care for your llamas while you’re away, build cardboard pagodas for the school food carnival, or teach thirty first-graders to sing and dance like monkeys…then YES, I’m your girl!  I’ve served on boards, coordinated critique groups, established organizations and launched everything from books to water balloons. 

I also run my own architecture firm, captain a couple sports teams, part-time single-mom my kid, president the PTO and turn nouns into verbs.  I have seven siblings, a host of lovely friends, and stacks of unread books for which I never have enough time.  And in the cracks between all those things to which I say YES, I write. 

I’m guessing this sounds familiar. 



Most of us have responsibilities that keep us from whipping out WIP’s left and right, so writing often takes a back seat, especially for the pre-published among us.  I’ve struggled for years to find a balance and, while I haven’t calculated the perfect ratio, I have found three pretty easy-to-do things that make a big difference.  I accomplish more if I…

1.       FLOG MYSELF FOR EVERY MINUTE I SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA.  I looove me some Facebook!  My writer peeps are there, we’re all funny and there’re pictures of people’s dinners.  But nothing, absolutely nothing, gets in the way of my writing as much as Facebook, Twitter, blogs or email.  And I found I can’t just ‘cut down’ the time I spend there, because one little click can lead me down a rabbit hole of “Howling monkeys, where’d that hour go?”  You know what I’m sayin’!  So when I sit down at the computer, I set a timer for an hour, and I don’t even OPEN an internet window until it goes off.

(This is not Deanna Burton)
2.      PET MYSELF FOR EVERY MINUTE I SPEND WRITING.  I respond better to a carrot than a stick.  Like, duh.  Who doesn’t?  Beating myself up because I didn’t get those thousand words down just makes me associate writing with…well, getting beaten up.  And I’d rather leave that association with Deena Burton in seventh grade.  If I jot down a really good idea at a stoplight, yay me!  If I manage ten minutes of solid writing, I get a cookie!  (That whole “carrot” thing should not be taken literally.)  And if I do meet my writing goal for the day, I might treat myself to a banana or even a few extra minutes of Facemonkey.

3.      LEARN TO SAY NO SOMETIMES.  I’ve gotten better at saying no.  Being President of the PTO showed me just how many people *do* say no and [wait for it] feel no guilt whatsoever!  I’ve also recently discovered (bananas to my monkey-sister Marilyn Hilton for this) saying “no” to things means someone better suited has the opportunity to come along and say “yes!”
And it’s not just volunteer opportunities I’ve learned to say no to [sic].  I also ‘no’ the laundry.  And mopping.  And dusting.  Dusting is like the gateway drug to saying ‘no’ because on the global scale of mattering, it doesn’t.  Kids matter, of course, but even they can take a ‘no’ sometimes.  One of our Fairy Godmentors, Terri Farley, said the rule in her house was if she didn’t look up from her computer, she wasn’t actually listening to anything anyone said and could therefore not be held accountable.  I like that.  Her kids grew up rock star, by the way.

So, sally forth, Monkeys!  Be empowered by your new word!  And write on!  I’ll…probably see you on Facebook. 

26 comments:

  1. You are a turbomonkey on banana juice! I think you manage in a day what I do in a week. I really like #2, focusing on the peanuts not the empty shells.

    Thanks, Amy!

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    1. You're a carrot person like me! :) Thanks for dropping in, Joanna!

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  2. I'm a fan of whatever helps you accomplish more writing! But, you're still going to take care of the llamas, right?

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    1. I've got your back, KCH! And the llamas. And Marley and Barley!

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  3. sage advice, monkey friend. I have to dole out the FB, too.

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    1. Everything in moderation, right Linda? Even the fun things. :)

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  4. I love what you said about housework, dusting especially. It doesn't matter! I will join anyone in saying no to housework.

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    1. Let's say it together! In fact, let's write a rap and chant it at the dust bunnies. :)

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  5. Such agreat read to start a busy week! More "no, thank yous" opens up a world of possibility!

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    1. Write more. Dust less. I'm going to have that tattooed somewhere. :)

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  6. I start the day off with a cup of coffee and "getting me some fb." It's a ritual, although I might have to buy a timer. Good idea. Loved the post!

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    1. Ellen, I do that same thing. It's when lunch rolls around and I'm still sitting there in my jammies that's the problem. :) The timer is my friend.

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  8. I know how Facebook can become addicting, it's so much a part of how I communicate to the ones I love. I also know how "Yes" can become a four letter word, so your thoughtful and humorous blog gives me hope that I can one day learn to juggle my time and get to my writing...
    I have much more to say...but I hear my Facebook "doodlie doot" alert.

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    1. I know, Rosi! Wouldn't another three hours be nice to have every day? :)

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  10. Yeah, where did that twenty eight hour day go? Love the post and ummm... oops, times up got ta go!

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    1. Way to be disciplined, Patient Dreamer! :)

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  11. Loved this post, Amy. I didn't know you were so adept at wrangling llamas, though. What are you doing this weekend?

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    1. This weekend, I'm writing...after saying 'no' to wrangling hippos.

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  12. I am totally a yes-aholic, so thanks for the fabulous advice! :)

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    1. Susanna, I hope it helps. Thanks so much for dropping by! :)

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  13. LOL!! Good reminder. Now excuse me while I go flog myself. Where does the time go? Sigh.

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    1. Diana, I have no idea! But wherever it is, I bet it's surrounded by a lot of single socks. :)

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