When Katie, my BFF and blog mate, first brought the A to Z Challenge to my attention, I thought it would be a fun idea, a quick way to generate some content for our new blog. It definitely proved to be fun—and challenging. But it was also something more; it was a learning experience for me.
For a few years now, I’ve dabbled in freelance writing. I’ve written for blogs (paid and unpaid), for local papers, and newsletters. I’ve been published in an anthology and had anecdotes related in national magazines. But I’ve faced a wall with taking my writing and potential career to the next level. As a stay-at-home mom, my days aren’t mine to do with as I please, despite the perception of some. My first responsibility is to my children, and with four of them under the age of 10, my plate is overflowing with responsibility.
Then there is the rest of the household to run. I’m chief financial officer of this family (my husband earns the dough, I figure out how to roll it out and make enough pizza to go around) and the head housekeeper. If I don’t do it, it just doesn’t get done. That couldn’t have been made more evident than during this challenge.
Each day, I wrote a post (or published a previously written one, on those precious days I already had material). That included finding relevant graphics and publicizing via social media. On the best day, it took an hour. But there weren’t too many “best days”. When the muse is sitting on my shoulder, I can write like my MacBook is on fire. But then there are times when the wailing and whining from the kids or the footlong to-do list sitting at my elbow scares my muse away. I would sit here, trying to get something written, feeling the words taunting me from the tips of my fingers. I would eventually finish—but then I would have to face the fact that dishes were overflowing the sink and everyone was out of clean underwear.
Doing the challenge taught me that I MUST come up with better time management skills if I really want to make a go of this. And I do. I love to write. But that’s part of the problem, I suppose—since I love to do this, I have this ingrained sense that I can’t sit down and enjoy it until my obligations are done. And I always have obligations.
The challenge taught me that, in addition to managing my time better—e.g. creating and following some type of schedule, planning ahead, delegating—I need to learn to let go and JUST WRITE. Christina Katz says to put on “blinders” and if I hadn’t done that, I don’t think I would’ve gotten through this challenge. Now I just need to let go of the worrying about the aftermath when I have the blinders on. As long as the kids are safe and my bills are paid, everything else can wait its turn.
I’m grateful for the new blogger-friends I’ve made and excited about the new blogs I’ve discovered. I found a wealth of talented bloggers in a variety of subjects through the blog hop, and I’m happy to have more reason to procrastinate via reading through some of my favorites each day.
Thank you, A-to-Z Challenge founders, participants, and administrators. It’s been a wild ride. Can’t wait to do it again!Read the previous A-to-Z Challenge posts here!