Writing When You Should Be Doing Something Else

I’m lying here in bed, desperate to fall asleep. I’m supposed to be at the gym in just a few hours, awake enough to successfully step onto a box holding heavier dumbbells than I ever have before. What an appropriate name for those, by the way. Dumb…bells.

It feels like it’ll be hours before I fall asleep. So much is running through by cluttered little mind. My head has felt extra full lately and I attribute some of that to not reserving time for this, for writing out my thoughts. I’ve learned over the years that this is how I process things. Both big and small, significant and trivial. All of the things in my world make more sense when I spill out some words on a page, just like this. Lately, I’ve not done this.

When I’m at my best, I’ve learned, I’m writing and sharing almost everyday. I’m writing out long and short notes on my phone or Google docs on my computer. The vast majority of these are never shared and yet the simple act of getting it out is like therapy to me. Lately, I’ve not even taken time to jot down the small notes on my phone and it’s taking a toll.

As I wait hopelessly to fall asleep, I think through all the things that I’m using my time for instead. What is filling my schedule so full that I can’t even reserve a mere hour of time for myself in a day? What am I doing everyday that’s sucking the life out of me? A few things come to mind.

I look back on a piece I wrote in the spring about actually dedicating time to writing. I made a commitment to myself of sorts, and I did do more writing for a while after that. And then summer came I got I busy. I got busy with work and family and travel and when there’s other things to be done, I go last. After a tough week and sleepless nights feeling like I’m at my wits end, I’m circling back around. I’m coming back to this promise I made to myself this past spring. Here it is.

How does one become a writer? By writing. Duh. It’s not about being published or having a million dollar writing career. To be a writer, you merely write.

What about when you have other responsibilities? What if you’re supporting yourself and others through a job that takes a lot of attention and activity from you? What about when you care for several people and your attention is spread thin among all the things?

For years now, I’ve dabbled in this writing business. I write several things when time permits and I share some. I often get great feedback from loyal readers and several proclaim that I should write a book. I get personal messages and DMs that insist something I created touched them on a deep and personal level and it means the world to me. I’m flattered and encouraged and it reminds me that I should write and share more. It reminds me that there’s some calling within me that insists I put words down and share them with people, even when I’m scared to death to do so.

Here’s the problem though, and I’m certain this is one all of you with side hustles and big dreams will understand — I save this writing for when there’s extra time. I save it for when everything else is done and the checklists are empty. I save it for when someone else doesn’t need something for me. It’s what I do last.

I don’t have to explain what this means. It means something that’s wildly important to me and a part of who I am at the core, doesn’t get done. It gets done in spare moments where the world around me is quiet. It’s reserved for plane rides and tiny windows of time when inspiration strikes.

To be honest, I’m not sure what my greater purpose in this big world is yet. At 33, I’ve not seen it clearly spelled out in front of me yet. However, I know that writing and storytelling is a part of it. It might not be writing a book or standing on stage in front of millions, and yet I know with certainty that whatever it is, it starts here. It starts with me telling my story and sharing what I’ve learned and experienced. It starts with writing down these words, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s time. It starts with hitting publish, even when I’m scared to to so. It starts with making time and fostering courage. It starts with making writing a priority.

I’ll be honest, even admitting that I see this “hobby” of mine as a priority is difficult to do. I fully support myself through my real estate business. In case you’re new here, I’m unmarried and wasn’t born with a trust fund. I pay my own bills and help pay other people’s through the money we bring in. I live and eat by the houses we sell and there’s no guaranteed salary there. If people don’t choose us to represent them and we don’t sell houses, we don’t bring in money. It’s as simple as that. I don’t have any other guarantee or safety net. This means, selling houses and finding new clients is priority. How can writing be a priority when something else is what pays the bills? How can I reserve time to concentrate on this thing that’s important to me when, at least right now, it does not pay the bills or even contribute financially?

The answer is, I just do it anyway and trust that there’s a greater reason. I must have faith that this urging I feel deep in my gut it there for a reason. I listen to the small voice that says, “Do this thing. You’re made for it.” Finally, after years of only writing when there was extra time, I’m ready to take this seriously. I’m ready to write and share even when other people don’t understand its value or think I should be doing something else with my time. I’m ready to listen to the hundreds of you that cheer me on and beg for more, instead of the ones who don’t understand or make snide remarks. (I’m looking at you mean lady who said that rude thing 5 years ago that I’ll never forget.) I’m ready to use this talent that I was given and see where it takes me. I’m choosing to do it anyway, even when it doesn’t seem important, because I trust there’s a reason.

Here’s to following our callings, big or small. Here’s to answering that call and doing that thing that doesn’t make sense on paper yet. I believe we’re all here to make a difference in the world somehow and when we stuff our gifts in a closet to only be used at ideal times, we’re selling ourselves short and stealing from someone who needs our special contribution.

If you’d like to follow along with my process more closely, sign up for emails. I’m updating my crew every other week, and that’s the best way to be sure not to miss anything. As always, thanks for being an encouragement. You guys keep me moving forward.

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