Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Can't Do it All...Well

Last weekend I was down in Baltimore, at a blogging conference, getting myself inspired, immersed, and informed in the world of blogging and writing.

I learned boatloads. I drank in greatness from the "big names" in blogging. I had fun while making connections and learning how to improve. It was beyond worth the trip. It was similar to the music education conferences I'd been too - these people really cared about what they were doing and were there to build others up. They gave up a weekend, volunteered their time, and were completely approachable.

Sidenote: Another similarity is the name dropping. I do love coming home, sharing all of your idols who you actually got to MEET, and being met with blank stares. It used to happen to me ALL the time after music education conferences. I'd come home bursting with excitement because I got to work with Ruth Dwyer or Rollo Dilworth, and people would look at me like "who?". Yeah, I have to admit, I got a lot of the same reactions when I gushed about the bloggers I idolized.

I wanted to GET STARTED. I wanted to start pitching new sites. I wanted to start working with brands in a better way. I wanted to overhaul my site. I wanted to re-do all my graphics. I wanted  to find a better schedule. I wanted to write more. I wanted to be more engaged on social media. I wanted to keep the connections I'd made and forge deeper ones by getting involved in various online groups. I got more inspired to submit writing to more anthologies and start my early reader series. I was pumped, had a multipage to-do list, and wanted to lock myself in a room with coffee, my laptop, and my phone for about a week.

Then I got home.

And life moves on.

I have a house that needs to be maintained. I have two kids who are home, as well as being in that weird month where school year activities are over but summer stuff hasn't started yet.

I have a good husband. I have a good babysitter. I have kids who can play a little more independently.

But I still didn't really have the time to do everything I wanted to. And now, ten days out, I'm losing a little bit of that inspiration to frustration. I'm not keeping up. And I really don't want to lose all that great momentum.

Last night my brain was too fried to write anything new, so I started trying to organize my notes. I figured my brain would lead me to a post if I separated out the things that really inspired me.

I think it was Ilana from Mommy Shorts who referenced this, and I'm paraphrasing, but she basically said you can't try to do it all. Sure, you can try, but you won't do it WELL. You can't be on all forms of social media all day, chase freelance deadlines, write essays for anthologies to submit to, negotiate sponsorship opportunities, write your own stuff, manae your home and family, spend time with your kids, and keep yourself sane.

Then I thought of Tina Fey, since I've been listening to Bossypants in the car (yay for Audiobooks!). She mentions that one thing she hates to hear is "how do you juggle it all?" because what she hears is "you're effing it ALL up, aren't you?". I can completely relate, because whenever someone marvels about how I find the time to write, I feel like they're thinking I must be letting something else go. I'm the mom on her phone while her children are playing at the playground - not missing things, since my kids generally prefer to play without me hovering, but playing catch up with email or comments or social media. These groups I'm in are fantastic, but I'm in several of them now, and they're time consuming. And because of all this, I'm missing deadlines, both actual and self-imposed. And that is not how to get inspired.

Maybe you can do all the things. But you can't do all the things well.

I know that. Of course I know that. Everyone knows that. But when inspiration and excitement takes hold, you try to do all the things. Because you see how much success others can have and it seems like they are doing all the things well.

Spoiler alert: They are not. They are doing a FEW things well and focusing their energy where they are successful.

So now my plan is to spend my next "office session" organizing and prioritizing. I can, reasonably, give myself about an hour a day and a burst of three hours once a week to do "writing stuff". So I need to organize where that hour goes daily and where the focus is on my weekly session.

When the excitement from the music conferences faded, I was usually left with a few great ideas and some songs, games and strategies that stuck, and made my classroom better. The rest...well, they faded back into my notes and handouts, ready for a revisit when I had the time, energy, and needed some inspiration.

So I don't feel bad. I know I won't be able to do all the things. But I'll do a few new things well, and I'll make sure that my enthusiasm is something that doesn't fade.
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