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Removing the Blog-Goggles. | Bethany Suckrow

Removing the Blog-Goggles.

Today I’m struck by the value of time when it comes to good writing. My days have been a little out of sorts lately, in a good way. Last week my brother was in town over his spring break. We spent our evenings in the kitchen as I taught him the cooking basics (he’s been on a steady diet of frozen chicken fingers and boxed mac-n-cheese for the last few months since our mom died.) It was time well spent; I don’t think we’ve ever had that much time alone together, and realistically, we may never have that kind of time again. 
This week, my sis-in-law and niecey are in town, and my evenings are spent watching Dora or Ice Age and reading Curious George, and enjoying more than the usual gatherings of family for lunch, dinner, weekend activities, etc. I love it, I adore them, it’s comforting to be with family and just relax together when we spend so much of our lives apart.
But I catch myself trying to do double-duty, to enjoy my time with family and think about how to make use of it in my writing. Some people refer to this syndrome as “blog-goggles”; sometimes I have to force myself to take them off, think of it in terms of just my life and not the subject of another post. 
This is time well-spent, just as it is. Stay in the moment. 
And I’ve long held tightly to this myth that if I just had an extra, oh, 12 hours in my day, I’d have an entire series of novels written and published by now. Instead, I’m stuck with a mere, standard 24 hours, an un-met deadline, a stale blog, and ideas that feel like cold, day-old coffee grounds in the bottom of my neglected french press. Ugh.
I forget that I’m young. I forget that life is messy, and it should be that way. I forget that I’m only human. 
I cringe when I think about what life will be like later, when kids and a mortgage and more job responsibilities might get thrown into the mix. 
Sometimes writing takes a back seat to life. And that’s okay, because shouldn’t writing be about life? The page will be blank or the words empty if there’s no life to fill them. 
I’m learning that one of the biggest challenges of being a writer is to compartmentalize my life from my work, my self from my writing,  and then to allow those different parts of me to interact in a healthy way. 
As Shauna explains, good writing always requires quality time, but when you’re caught up in a busy life, you may have to give up the idea of hoarding a large chunk of time for yourself and give in to doing it in smaller increments. I’m trying to implement this sort of method, but there are some weeks like this one, when all hope of writerly seclusion goes out the window.
How about you? What’s the hardest part of balancing your life as a writer?
  • Jim Woods

    Sometimes writing takes a back seat to life. And that's okay, because shouldn't writing be about life? The page will be blank or the words empty if there's no life to fill them. 
    This is so true! I can't tell you how many times I tried (in vain) to work on a blog post as a certain adorable 2 yr old watches some Curious George or reads a book with Mom. It does NOT work. Within seconds I hear "Daddy read? Or "Daddy come play!" but that's a great thing. I LOVE hearing those words! Writing is NOT remotely as important as family time and it NEVER should be. 

  • Elizabeth Hudson

    I love this: "I forget that I'm young. I forget that life is messy, and it should be that way."

    Truer words were never written. I, too, have this idealistic image of me getting up before the sun and spinning hours into words before family and work get in the way, but that never happens anymore. The truth is that I get home from work close to midnight and I hit the snooze button too many times and I dilly-dally around the house for a while before complaining that there's no time to write anymore.

    I'm with you. Life should always come first, no matter how much I life I get from writing.

    By the way, I'm currently reading Bird by Bird. Thanks for the suggestion :)

  • Melissa

    The parts that Jim and Elizabeth mentioned were my favorites too.  I struggle to find time to write what I want to write– to find quality time between nannying, class/homework, and other life stuff.  I love it all, but writing in "the moments between" can get frustrating (especially while caring for a 10-month-old!).  Good to know I'm not alone!

  • Sonya Henney

    Bethy, your writings always move and inspire me. Thank you much! Your a wonderful writer! <3


  • Beth

    These days, the hardest thing for me is

  • Paris Kim

    It is a strange but enjoyable feeling to have your life reflect around your blog.  I just let most days pass, and if I find myself somewhere truly significant or an exciting thought comes to mind, I know I need to write about it. Lately schoolwork's been a priority, and that's something I really cannot afford to slip. A blog is after all thoughts on your life and posts about really significant things, but in that way I try to keep it simple and just grin and bear it and get what needs to be done first. Really enjoyed this post!

  • MoriahEsther

    I'm finished a book about poetry and I saw a quote I thought you would like Bethany. 
    Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." I have no idea who said it, however, every time we aren't getting done what we want to, isn't that life we are experiencing?  Maybe it comforts my writerly self because my alone time is always the first to get unbalanced!  I'll google that quote later.

  • Andy Gill

    I can completely relate in regard to thinking of life as life, and not just another subject to a blog post… its a thin line sometimes between living to blog and blogging about living… 

  • Jim Woods

    I'm reading Bird by Bird too. Ha! It's definitely a winner. 

  • Christopher Johnson

    So often I have several topics that I want to expand. I don't want to just crank out a post just to appear active. I have found that life does come first, and even if I put down a little bit at a time in a draft I can still finish the post (a little longer than desired, but it does get finished)

  • Bethany Suckrow

    That's really interesting to me that a change in location has had such an impact on your writing, Beth. That tends to influence how I feel about a piece I'm working on, too. What do you think it is about where you are now that has shifted your "mood" to write fiction (for lack of a better term)?

  • Bethany Suckrow

    So true, Andy! Well said.

  • Bethany Suckrow

    I've been learning that too, Christopher. I've been forced to write my longer articles in bits and pieces due to lack of time, but it's teaching me to go back and reread my work before I post too hastily. I think overall it's a better method for writing.

  • Bethany Suckrow

    Love that quote, Moriah! Thank you for sharing it. Reminds me of that Beatles' lyric, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Also a favorite of mine. :)

  • Bethany Suckrow

    Yes! Doesn't reading that book just make you feel so much more sane about being a writer?! Love Anne Lamott. If you're not following her on twitter, you should. Her tweets crack me up. 

  • Bethany Suckrow

    Thanks for reading, Sonie. Love you bunches. Xoxo.

  • Natalie

    As has been demonstrated by my recently neglected blog, I am totally in your boat. And I was going to blog about it today, too!  It's true that the priority is not writing about life and missing it, but living it to write about.  I've been trying to give myself permissiong to enjoy each moment and just have faith that the those moments are then not going anywhere for later.  :)  
    Delightful thoughts and I am encouraged today!

  • Write To Be You

    Just got around to reading this now… really true and insightful, and life does actually stay messy in my experience (even when you're not feeling so young!) Enjoyed our exchange this week :)

    The hardest part for me in balancing my life as a writer is time management… I am by nature dreamy, and I often feel shitty for not getting 'enough' done in the hours I claim for myself while the kids are at school. But the truth is… it is my 'dreaminess' that brings 'me' to my writing. I waft onto the page and linger… so maybe I only get one or two things done in an hour, which someone else might have utilized far more efficiently, but the things I get done, the words that are written, are accurate reflections of who I am… rather than who I think I 'should' be.

  • Timothy Snyder

    I'd say consistency.  I'm great at short bursts of great productivity, but sustaining it can be a bit of a challenge.  Distractions come in all shapes and sizes.

    As for the blog-goggles, I know exactly what you mean.  It can easily leave you focusing on all of the wrong things and not truly appreciated moments as you live them