Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Life of the Overcommitted Writer

Well, it's still Tuesday for about another fifty minutes, so I guess I can't call this post late. I remember the days when I used to have this post all planned out a week in advance. That was before I began living the life of the overcommitted writer.

Who is the overcommitted writer? This will give you some idea of who she is:

* She has no less than 10 ideas racing around in her head begging to be written, but she has no time to write any of them down

* She spends no less than 8 hours a day on the computer

* Her family eats lots of fast food or TV dinners

* Her housework piles up until she can't take it anymore and spends an entire day cleaning out of sheer frustration

* When she is lucky, she gets more than 5 hours of sleep each night

* She is the woman who volunteers for every project put on at her church, her children's school, or by local town committees

Doesn't this writer sound hopeless? She's a lost cause, right? Well, not exactly.

The trick to not getting overcommitted is to learn how to say "no". It's not a dirty word, but a lot of people--especially women--find that tiny word so difficult to say.

Saying "no" does not mean you are a bad person, self-centered, or ungiving. It simply means that you realize your body and mind can only do so much with the time you have. If you're constantly running around with little or no time to relax and enjoy life, then your physical and mental health will suffer.

But how do you say "no" and not feel like a bad guy? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that one out. I have read lots of articles about ways to say "no" and tips on how to get to the point where you can say "no" comfortably, but I'm not there yet. Writer Donna Birk had this great article I found at, which talked about the stages of learning to say "no". I'm in Stage 1, where I have identified that I need to say "no" to things. This is also the stage where I am able to see places where I could have said "no" but didn't.

As part of my goals for the end of 2007 and into 2008 I have made my writing a top priority, right next to spending more time with my family. I've already started to put into motion things that will allow me to do both. Once I was at the point where I realized I needed to say "no", I stopped living the life of the overcommitted writer and began living the life of the the writer who is going to make the time for the things that are the most important to her.

You can do it to!


Jean said...

Hey cheryl...

Saying no is really one of the hardest things to do. Even when there are others who can take over, I still feel guilty.

I'm going to have to check out that article. While I do say no at times, I'm not comfy with it yet.


Cheryl said...

Doesn't the guilt just stink? I think women deal with guilt more than men, and my mother really encouraged us to think more of others than our own needs.