Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Enjoy the "Now" of Your Writing Journey #IWSG



Welcome, insecure writers! Wanna join the group? Clicky here and sign up. And don't forget to tell yourself how smart you are for doing so :)

Are you insecure about where you are on your writing journey? I feel ya. But I'll share a little trick in just a minute.

My oldest son is finishing up his junior year in high school. He's been researching universities since 9th grade, and lately we've been going on campus visits. He's even looked ahead to internships and dream companies he'd like to work for or emulate. He's super excited about college, and he's kind of a motivated guy.

One night, while juggling all this research and current assignments, he said, "I think I'm looking too far into the future." I told him I thought it was fine to look far into the future, as long as he enjoys the "now." He still has summer, and his senior year--with Friday night football games, prom, and all the other fun times he'll have before graduation.

It reminded me how writers seem to look beyond the now and focus on the future. When I get an agent. When I sign that book deal. When I reach the bestseller list.

I'll let you in on a little secret that's helped me remain calm and content even though I'm a busy wife, mom, author, and publisher: I enjoy the now. Right now, where I'm at on my writing journey.

Yes, I've looked ahead to the agent, the book deal, and all the other milestones writers dream about. But I've also made it a habit to focus on the progress I've made, and all the joy I've felt with each accomplishment. Where I'm at right now is pretty darn good. But it was also good when I was first learning this writing thing...and it was good when I finished my first crappy novel...and it was good when I signed with my agent...and it was good when I indie published.

What's that quote? Life is what happens when we're busy making plans. 

What does my son's future hold? I have no idea. What does my own future hold? Also, no idea. But when life gets hectic, my solution is simple: take a deep breath, plan for the future, but enjoy the now.

That's my little secret! Do you focus too much on the future? Or do you stop, look around, and enjoy the now? Any tips you can share?


61 comments:

  1. I tend to get lost in planning for the future. But this post was great and you are so right. I have to focus on the now as well. Surprisingly, i tend to forget that. Thank you for reminding me.

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    1. Murees, I think we can all use a reminder every once in a while. Look back on where you started, and appreciate your progress!

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  2. Such great advice to focus on the now. Though I'll confess mine is a bit hard now. And there's a lot to think ahead about (my daughter is a junior too thinking about college) too.

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    1. Natalie, I know you're going through a trying time right now. Your "now" is definitely a challenge. Your daughter's junior year and senior year will fly by. Our nests will be empty way too soon!

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  3. This is excellent advice, Julie. It's important–and exciting–to plan for the future. And you're right that no matter how well we plan, life seems to get a kick out of thwarting those plans. Enjoy the now! You'll never get it back once it passes.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Exactly! Sometimes I look back and wished I'd paid more attention to the "now" in the past. Especially now that my sons are growing too fast.

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  4. If you don't enjoy the now, it won't matter what comes in the future because you won't enjoy it when it gets here.

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    1. YES! I once heard someone say if you're not happy now it's not likely you'd be happy even if your dreams came true. There's always something we can be thankful for--even in the "now."

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  5. The words arrive when they are ready, which is now. Past and Future exist only in our minds, which bring them to life through our words. Always here, always now, always with a smile.

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  6. that's great advice that I myself often forget to follow ...

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    1. E.E., we can all remind each other!

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  7. It's EXCELLENT advice. Especially when we hit things that were once the 'way out theres'. Because our plans keep evolving and going yet further (as they should, or eventually we'd stagnate) but never forget that TODAY'S success was once a pipedream. (remember when the goal was "I want to write a book"?)

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    1. Hart, so true! Yes, the dream used to be to finish a book of our own. It's great that our dreams grow bigger with time.

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  8. Great advice about enjoy the now. We still need plans for the future, but we miss so much if all we do is look ahead. Best wishes.

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    1. Diane, so true. I have three teen sons right now, and sometimes we're so busy I have to force ourselves to focus on the now.

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  9. "Enjoy the now." Great words of wisdom. I remember back in college when I used to wish I could jump to the next week and skip past a test or homework assignment. Soon I realized I was wishing away huge blocks of time that I could never get back again. Ever since then, I've learned to take my time and enjoy the ride itself.

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    1. Ken, oh my goodness, this is something I've tried telling my teen boys. They're in such a hurry to grow up but I want them to enjoy each of these moments. We know all too well have fast this time will fly.

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  10. Great advice...one of the reasons we moved to Ecuador for a few years was to enjoy our Grand Adventure NO!. We were both widowed when we met, we both know there are no guarnatees.

    D.B. McNicol
    Romance & Mystery...writing my life

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    1. Donna, what an exciting adventure! And a wonderful way to live in the moment.

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  11. That's a really good reminder! Keep an eye on the future but focus on the now.
    lucindawhitney.com

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    1. Cindy, a good motto for life and writing :)

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  12. I try to do both. I'm enjoying where I'm at and working towards the future I want.

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    1. Traci, that's awesome. I love how you enjoy where you're at now while also looking ahead.

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  13. I love that writing is my now. Getting better at it is my now. The future? Well, I have ideas, but I don't dwell on it. Good for you, Julie.

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    1. Liza, that's all we can do, right? Work hard to get where we want to go, but enjoy each moment.

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  14. I often think (and worry) too much about the future. Will I ever be published? Will I ever receive more than a form letter again? It's exhausting.

    I love this reminder to live in the now. Each part of the process has its own joys, and life is too short to spend fretting.

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    1. Holli, exactly. Whenever I feel down about where I'm at on my journey, I remember how far I've come. Each of those little milestones is worth celebrating. (and by the way, you will definitely receive more than a form letter some day! Just keep going)

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    2. Thanks, Julie. You don't know how much I needed to hear that right now! I used to have an agent, and going back on the query-go-round has been super tough for me. I appreciate the encouragement.

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  15. I am absolutely convinced that "being present" is the best way to live. My best days are the ones where I stop for a few minutes and just breathe and look at all the details around me, and all things to be thankful for. Which I had not done yet today; so thankfully your post reminded me to be present.

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    1. Margo, especially when we have busy home lives. Sometimes it's tough to take a moment and appreciate the now, when we're juggling so many balls in the air. But it's worth it!

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  16. I think that is a great thing to do. Right now I'm just enjoying the writing process.

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    1. Sheena-kay, that's the reason why we do it! However, sometimes all that other stuff gets in the way of the joy of writing.

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  17. Enjoy the now - that is great advice. It is important to set goals and have dreams but yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. Enjoy this time in your life.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. Elizabeth, so true. Enjoy each of these moments of our writing journey!

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  18. I'm a planner, so I tend to get caught up in that.
    Great post, and good reminder. :)

    IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Melissa, I used to be a big planner but I seem to do less and less of that these days :)

      "IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again." <=so funny!

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  19. Wonderful advice. As a rule, it's all about the writing for me—that's the dream—so I don't spending a lot of time planning or fantasizing. But I have a book coming out next year, and I promised my agent I'd self-publish a selection short stories and another novel as a way to create buzz for the book. Suddenly, I'm spending a lot of time planning and very little time on my WIP.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Oh, I've heard of a lot of authors releasing short stories related to their novels. That's such a cool idea. Good luck!

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  20. I think that's sound and realistic advice. The "now" is all we have. There are no guarantees when it comes to the future.
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Amen to that, Michelle! Might as well enjoy where we are now!

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  21. Fantastic advice Julie. Though I have not followed it for quite some time now as I am looking too, too far into the future and forgetting the now. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Rachna, you bet! We can all use a reminder sometimes :)

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  22. Really great advice. We have to enjoy every moment so we can look back on them too.

    Thank you for your support.
    Heather

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    1. Heather, excellent point! If we enjoy the now, we can look back on the time with fondness and not regret.

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  23. I love you blog, Julie. You're so uplifting and positive. I've got a few negative people in my life right now, (family, so I can't get rid of them) and it's really hard to stay up when they're so down. You lift me up! Thanks.

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    1. Joylene, that's such a sweet thing to say. Thank you!

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  24. EXCELLENT post and one I need to keep in mind as I try to balance my life. Thanks!

    D.B. McNicol
    Romance & Mystery...writing my life

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    1. Balance in our lives is soooo tricky! We can use all the help we can get.

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  25. A valuable post, Julie. Some say that all we have is right now, and that if we don't pay attention to it, we'll drift through life without experiencing it. It's an easy trap to fall into. I'm trying to remember to stop periodically throughout the day and focus on a few deep breaths: to check into now. I'm not thinking ahead to an agent or publisher. I'm focused on completing a garbage draft. That is all I can manage. You son sounds like a kiddo with his head screwed on right!

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    1. I love how you're focusing on the garbage draft! One step at a time, right? That garbage draft will not be garbage when you're done with it :)

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  26. It's not the destination but the journey that matters. And it's much more fun.

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    1. Absolutely! And we get to enjoy the journey with amazing, supportive people <3

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  27. This was a really good reminder for me, Julie. Thanks for sharing it. I'm nowhere near you in my writing career. Heck, I haven't even published my first crappy novel yet. But, you're right, I need to remember to enjoy the moments I had so far!

    Elsie

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    1. Elsie, there will always be writers ahead of us and behind us on our journeys! Some writers wish they would write the story in their heads but haven't started yet. I think of the amazing books I've read by amazing writers, but they haven't landed the big screen deal like Divergent. It's great to enjoy each moment of our own paths and appreciate every single milestone. Good luck to you with your novel!

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  28. This is excellent advice and a great post, Julie. It's important to plan for the future.

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  29. I used to plan too far ahead, and then I slowed down to enjoy the process, learn things, and accept setbacks. I like where I am now and hope to progress even more.

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  30. Juli,

    I struggle with this. I don't always enjoy now, I wish I didn't feel that way, but saying anything else is lying and I won't do that.

    Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between "Enjoying the now" and "Being complacent."

    I know they're not the same. Yet I find there's overlap. I don't always know when I'm on the non-lazy side of that...

    Sometimes, I feel like I spend more time "learning" and not exacting any benefits from that learning.

    I don't just mean this regarding my writing and publishing goals, but other areas in my life, too.

    Forgive my low spirits, my birthday's tomorrow and I always get uneasy about it. I thought I'd be in different place in my life, but I'm trying not to have a meltdown.

    Please, no "You're still young" comments,
    that's not the point. Anyway, I'm glad you and others are empowered to, Juli, I'm just not there yet.

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    1. Taurean, first HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm sorry you're feeling down. Everyone has those moments. You're not alone. And I think everyone takes a moment to look at where they are now, and where they thought they'd be. Our vision doesn't always line up with reality.

      My point is to plan for the future...strive for those goals, keep learning and trying new things. BUT also take a moment to look around. Do you have good friends? Family? People who love you? While we're pushing forward with our goals, it helps to also pause and enjoy life NOW. That way when we reach milestones, we can truly appreciate our progress.

      Each birthday is a gift. I hope you enjoy your special day.

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