Do the Work Wednesday # 11: Re-Booting your Efforts

by Lian on June 20, 2012

I’ll admit it, the last six weeks of family issues ( aging parents with serious health issues) has wreaked havoc on my well-intentioned writing schedule. I thought I’d be done with my first draft of my next book by now. I’m not. Not even close. It’s hard to write comedy when your life is not funny.

It’s eerily similar to the situation I found myself in when writing Helen of Pasadena. I was cranking along, happy with my 30 pages a week when my then 81 year- old mother broke her hip. She spent ten days in the hospital and then a month in rehab. I spent two months shuttling back and forth to Santa Monica to care for my dad, cook meals, go to doctor’s appointments and the like. My writing suffered then stopped. Again, hard to write comedy when life isn’t funny.

At the time, I eventually accepted my situation, put the writing aside without guilt and then set a firm date when I would pick up the writing again, no matter what was happening around me. It worked.

As someone whose worked at home for a long time and balanced my creative life with my real life, I was pretty good at compartmentalizing my time. Even if chaos was really happening at home, I could go on the air or sit down at my computer and Do The Work without whining/crying/bringing everyone down with me. But sometimes, the situation is too big to compartmentalize. Moving my father into a care facility  and then helping my mother transition to living alone is one of those situations. So I set the writing aside and then set a date to pick it up again.

But it feels like the fog is lifting and the clock is ticking. I have been forced to  turn down some great promotional opportunities for my next book because it’s NOT DONE YET. That is muy unfortunate. So last week, I did what I did with the first book: I signed up for a writing workshop to push the work through, force me into my seat and give me a great excuse to get the work done even if my life is chaotic.

First class tonight. I’m ready to do the work. You?

Embracing my Chaos, Lian

Related Posts:

Do the Work #10: In the Zone

Do the Work #9: It all counts



Karen June 21, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Lian, Way to go getting back into the swing of things!

But, as I learned with handling both my mother and sister-in-law’s illnesses and deaths last year, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself.

If taking care of yourself is letting the work sit on the sideline for a while so you can enjoy time with you and the boys (all 3!), or so you can sit in your newly renovated garden and *breath*, do it! Don’t get me wrong I didn’t come up with this on my own. It came from being involved in a support group for children taking care of their elderly parents. They had to continuously beat into my head that is nothing more important than your own well-being when going through times of stress. You cannot continue to take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself!!

While I admit I’ve been using your “do the work” entries to do my own work, I came to the realization that I needed to stop relying on others to motivate me, but to motivate myself. I can proudly say that now I have a Mission and Vision Statement and I can start recruiting for the Board for my fledgling non-profit.

Thank you for being ever present, I so much enjoy everything you put out there in the world!

chris d. June 21, 2012 at 7:16 AM

hi Lian,
I am often struck by the emotional maturity/intelligence and the wisdom of the sisters…your parents did a fine job of allowing you each to find your selves and the many facets that make each one unique and self actualized.
LOVE being the operative word, some situations cannot be compartmentalized but dealt with and embraced as you do each and every day.. live in the moment and embrace it, because its all we have and its what we do.
be well and know that you and your family are backed up by thoughts and prayers..
chris d.

Cyndi June 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

I’ve always admired your stamina and resilience … it makes you *you*. With all of the issues and life changes surrounding your dad’s health, it would be easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged, but the Dolan family seems to know how to unite and contribute individually to dealing with it all. My best wishes to each of you.

Next week I pick up with my coursework (it’s been great to take a month off!) and continue with Chemistry – doesn’t that sound like fun? No, I don’t think so either, but it’s next on the list so I will step up to the challenge and get my safety goggles on … My two daughters are back home from college so now I’m back up to five under the roof and it is a little chaotic, but definitely chaos-lite compared to what you are experiencing.

Get back to work Lian!

William J. June 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Lian, it sounds like you are in the THOY stage of writing. To hard on yourself. Man if anybody deserves break and understanding it is you!

Maybe you can turn what you perceive as lost weeks of writing into something you can incorporate into your book. Sometimes through the tragedy and tears is when we do our best writing. Maybe your romantic hero is having a hard time getting involved into a new romance because he or she is afraid to leave his aging parents. Maybe he or she has to make a heartbreaking choice between a life style and a love style. Or even a choice of who to care for.

As to rebooting, I reboot daily and in several areas. I wrote the ending of my book first. so I could write towards a known outcom, sometimes I have to reboot chapters to fit the ending. Sometimes I get so tired caring for my Mom that I have to reboot there. I’m a serial rebooter.



I’m ready to work too, I just hope work is ready for me!

Lian Dolan June 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

all good comments. Clearly our professional wishes do not always line up with our personal lives.

Kristin, there may not be a workshop for your specific career goals, btu look around at other professional groups for female entrepreneurs. You may not think of yourself as a entrepreneur, but launching any business on your own can fall into that category. I’m in one here in LA called SMARTY ( you can google them) and the range of businesses is broad, from home products to floral designers to software engineers. A lot of the information about marketing a service business would apply to someone like you. Maybe there is something where you are that fits the bill and could be an inspiration. just a thought.


Cynthia McKenna June 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM

I’ve resisted commenting on Do the Work Wednesdays because I always seem to be slaking on Wednesdays, and really don’t want to talk about that. But I appreciate your commitment to the new book and the good kick in the pants of a writing group to help you get it done.

My work as a psychotherapist continues to be a blessing. Other work for me includes blogging (which isn’t happening), and an almost weekly commitment to get myself back on a blogging schedule. I have been working on a huge stack of professional reading that is worth my time and effort. I just so wish I’d taken that Evelyn Wood Speed Reading that was heavily advertised in my youth.

I passed up the opportunity to do food coaching because realistically, there really isn’t time. I wish I could help people have healthier lives, and as San Antonio is consistently one of the fattest cities in the U.S., I’d really love to help. But my focus needs to stay on helping my terrific clients. Maybe I’ll start putting fresh fruit in my office candy dish instead of dark chocolate. Nah, just kidding.

I appreciate this weekly nudge. Back to work for me.

Kristin June 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

My reboot, having quit the day job that I loved, but with an agency I loathed, I am recommitting myself to market and secure all the necessary information to promote and support my private mental health practice. Wishing there was a workshop for being a small business owner in mental health!~

Continued T and P for the entire Dolan family.

Shary June 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

I have an image in my mind of how a “real” writer works. This imaginary person shuts out family and writes to the exclusion of all else, but I don’t think that’s a healthy or productive way to live and it’s not realistic.

I love the idea of rebooting. When I get stuck in personal problems or self-sabotaging thoughts, a workshop, a class, or even a new writing book can help me push through it all and get back to being creative again. Great advice! Thanks!

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