for the Creatives

How to do ALL THE THINGS as a multi-creative

I write stories and blogposts, and I teach, and I have dayjob and family and friends and I should probably try to live healthy like go to the gym and prep veggies, oh and Marie Kondoing my life is pretty important right now, plus I travel a lot to see my Wisconsin Guy (I mean, my only guy, but he’s also my Wisconsin Guy), plus there’s church and there’s serving my community, and let’s not forget Netflix. Phew, I’m wiped! Oh, and I need sleep! Yes, sleep. ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzzz.

In maintaining my writerly entrepreneurial life, I have book writing, blogging, social media updates, email newsletter, patron updates, book signings and events, writers groups, teaching classes, #DelilahTales updates about my mannequin’s life because why not, artistic fashion resale, directing the literary arts section of a Christian creative arts conference, and of course a dayjob to make this all possible.

And, in case ya didn’t notice from above, I’m not even the most multi-creative human out there. Some of y’all out there write and dance and paint and act and and all the things. Some of y’all have kids. Some of y’all have 3 jobs. Let’s be real: Some of y’all are busier than me.

But in juggling all the things, I’ve learned a few tips I thought I’d pass along. If you feel like you’re bombing your resolutions, it’s okay. Let’s reset. Let’s take another month to figure it out, and I won’t tell anybody. 

In a previous post I gave a micro-step about picking which ball you’ll keep in the air, but there’s a whole process to go deeper into re-evaluating each piece of your life and getting a few steps closer to doing the things that you’re actually wanting to do with the time you have.

Here’s my step by step process to prioritizing. I did it back when I got serious about my writing, and routinely I’ve re-evaluated and adjusted from there. It might help you.

When I began to make a regular writing routine, but didn’t have time for it, I did the following:

  1. Made a list of priorities, which included all the things I want to be the focus of my life for the time. This can include activities and abstract concepts: community, faith, writing, blogging, etc.
  2. Made a separate list of obligations, the things I don’t want to be the focus of my life but I have to give some time to. This also includes activities and abstract concepts: health (nutrition and gym), rest days, dayjob, sleep, etc.
  3. Goal of the above: diminish as much time as possible for obligations – for instance from my life, don’t work overtime if possible, don’t set some ridiculous gym goal, choose quicker healthy foods rather than hours of meal prep, have one rest day a week but not lounging for weeks on end, etc.  – and add the priorities to calendar wherever possible, organize life around those things.
  4. Made a separate list that detailed every single thing I spend my time doing currently. Included sleep, gym, meal prep, movie watching, reading, writers group, church small group, church services, work, writing, watching tv shows with a couple friends, babysitting, etc.
  5. Removed everything from my calendar that was part of that last list but not on the other lists. I noticed one small group I attended was not a community to me, but the other was, so I dropped the one that did not factor into my priority of “community”. I stopped babysitting. Cut the TV show watching with friends mostly, and prioritized writerly relationship meetings that help achieve my writing priority.
  6. Anything that came up to add to my calendar, I weighed on this scale: Is this in line with my priorities? Yes, then add it. Is this more under obligation? Okay, I’ll add it if I need to allot time to this still. Is this neither? Nope, can’t do it, I’m busy.

Notes:

  • This will fluctuate with time. Going through this process isn’t thinking “For the rest of my life, where does this fall?” It’s “Right now, where does this fall? For this season, what do I want my life to look like?” Maybe decluttering is priority because Marie Kondo and spring cleaning vibes. But then, you declutter, congratulations by the way, and suddenly you want music and sleep to be your top priority instead. This isn’t set in stone for all time. So ask yourself, for the next year or 6 months or 3 months, what you want it to look like.
  • The “obligation” category isn’t a bad section. You can even enjoy obligations very much (three cheers for sleep!). Obligations are still very much important and given regular time, just not extra. It’s important I go to the gym, spend time with family, sleep, attend my church, serve my community, work, write…but it’s all a question of which things I will allot time and not give extra time to (obligation), and which ones I need to fill my calendar as full as I can with because they’re my focus (priority).
  • For you: Which creative pursuits are an obligation? Which creative pursuits are a priority? Either way is fine. What about family? friends? health? cleaning your house? netflix? reading? gaming? travel? What about all your other activities? It’s all up to you. There’s no wrong list, it’s just personal to your life goals, aspirations, desires, etc.

Final step, I promise:

With the list of priorities and what gets what time, you want those priorities in order. What’s your top priority if you had to lose everything but one? What’s your second priority? And so on down the list. Once you do that, fit them each into your calendar on a regular basis in accordance with your prioritization, but you always know what drops first if you can’t hit it and you always know what gets any extra time you carve out.

So is your top priority theater? Novel? Blogging? Give your top priority the most of your focus/time/energy. Give a little time to the others. Maybe some will be every day, some every week, and some only every month. Who knows. But don’t focus so much on juggling all your lower priorities that you don’t give the time to your top priority.

It’s okay to want a lot of things, and you’ll figure out what works for you balance-wise with time.

You don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS. At least not all at once. Choose a couple for now. Add some in when you have room, take some off when you don’t. Most importantly, cut down as much “obligation” time as you can and throw it all at your “priorities” list. Something beautiful will come of it.

New top secret content for you!

If you like my detailed analytical posts like this one, it’s becoming a new perk for my most raving fans. From now on, these will be top secret content you can receive one of two ways:

  1. An abridged version of any new post is sent to those who receive my posts by email. You can sign up for free at the very bottom of my webpage. 
  2. The all-access pass for the archives and any future exclusive posts is available to paying patrons for just $2/mo. You can sign up at Patreon.com/AmyLSauder

The only question is, which will you choose?

Musings

Life is a mystery. You’re the detective.

Quote_Amber
“We are all detectives with every good story.” That’s what my friend Amber said when reading I Know You Like a Murder.
It’s true.
Books invite the reader to figure out what’s happening between the lines. And a good story keeps the reader guessing.
In “I Know You Like a Murder”, you as the reader are the detective. You’re quite literally invited into the story. By the murderer. As the detective. It’s very meta.
But that’s more than books. That’s life.
Life keeps you guessing what will happen next. Life invites you into the story. Of wonder and curiosity, twists and turns, fairy tales and monsters.
We are all detectives with every good story. And you’re in one. You’re in a good story (even when it doesn’t feel like it).
This is your cheesy inspirational post reminder:
Don’t just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Get up. Explore. Detectivize. Find out what’s around the corner and on the next page.

Dear reader,
You can detectivize October 23 by preordering #ikylam now at amylsauder.com/product/i-know-you-like-a-murder-preorder
Sincerely,
murderer
Mental Health

For the ones who cry too much, even if that’s only me

Let me tell you a story.

Credit: It’s a short story within “The Nobodies Album.” That book itself is a novel, with a small collection of short stories throughout that build on the theme of the actual novel. And I’m going to completely go all spoiler on one of the short stories, but there is no spoiler for the novel as a whole. This short story alone is really a great look at humanity, and worth the entire cost of the book I promise.

It’s called “The Human Slice”, about a world where everyone forgets all the unhappy memories. No one knows why. But the rare few who remember, those people are called The Heavies, because they’re such downers! Why would anyone want to bring up the unhappy past?

One family had a trauma just before the memories were taken – a toddler dying. But the family forgets, and only the grandma remembers, the only Heavy. The grandma reminds them of their past, and they all have various feelings of hearing it – some wanting to live in blissful ignorance, some wanting to know like really know their own past as their own. As this short story progresses, we find out a lone granddaughter remembers too, and is simply pretending to be like everybody else. Happy. Blissful. Forgetful.

When they visit the scene of the accident, the grandma finds the girl in tears. It’s almost like a reuniting for them. They are once again together to suffer their grief, no longer in it alone. It’s hopeful. They can finally chat about the memories together, work through it together. And then, the ending. The granddaughter wakes up to breakfast and asks grandma – “Will you take me to put flowers on Jonah’s grave?” and grandma says, “Who’s Jonah?”

Boom! What an ending! She forgot, ya’ll! I rarely have the urge to throw a book across the room, but I was so close with that. SO GOOD! and so terrifying. The granddaughter finally admits her secret and has a companion to grieve with, and the memories are taken from yet another! Which leads us to think “poor granddaughter” of course, but also what is going on in the world and will it not stop until no sad memory is left?


 

So why am I telling you this tragically beautiful story? Because sometimes I forget that pain isn’t the end. That sorrow being taken away isn’t the answer.

The story brings up so many quandaries, of people no longer knowing what dangers they have encountered. Kids punch other kids and say “It’s okay, they won’t remember it later.” Students don’t remember the sad parts of history to take the test, but obviously repercussions go further than that. An abused wife would never remember to hide from her husband and call 911. A teenager would consider getting back together with the boyfriend who cheated on her.

Sometimes sorrow is a protector.

But also, sometimes sorrow is proof you’re living, proof you’re human.

The mother in the above story kept asking to be retold the story of her toddler, because she couldn’t remember her own son. Every morning she’d awake having forgotten again. She’d forgotten something so much a part of her. She couldn’t move on, because she didn’t have a memory to return to.


 

I’m an introspective, intuitive, analytical, and emotional person. I cry too easily, I hurt too easily. And sometimes I just want a break.

I once apologized to my boyfriend – “Sorry. Most people wouldn’t cry over something so little.” I don’t remember what it was I was crying about then, but I’m sure it was true. I’ve cried over him having only refrigerated butter instead of room temperature, so case in point.

You know what he said? “Maybe other people should. Maybe you’re supposed to feel this much and you’ve got it right.”

I don’t necessarily agree with him – I remember quite distinctly thinking “No, absolutely no one should cry because [insert ridiculous reason here.]” But he was thoughtful, and he did have a point.

That it’s okay to feel, even alot. And I shouldn’t wish it away for the world, because it’s a part of living.

for the Creatives, Musings

The blehhhhhhh of plan B

Plan A was to write this blogpost about Plan B. Then my boyfriend said, “Not like going to the pharmacy for Plan B?” and then Plan B was to preface this blogpost with this paragraph. No, it has nothing to do with pharmacy plan B! Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up…..

Plan A was to call this post “The Beauty of Plan B” and it’d be like that inspirational basic chick type post. Plus there’s the alliteration of “The Beauty of Plan B.” It flows off the tongue so nicely.

But Plan B doesn’t flow so nicely. It’s more like “The Blehhhh of Plan B.” It’s inconvenient. It forces ya into going its direction when Plan A was all meadows of daisies, and Plan B is a little prickly and a little messy.

gaelle-marcel-161096

Two roads diverged and I….I was incessantly pushed away from the road less traveled and fell into this second path that just wasn’t it, grrrr, why can’t I just go this epic less-traveled dream life way?!?

Oops, end rant.

But seriously, I am the poster child of Plan B.

    • I was going to teach English until I realized I didn’t want to teach in a structured classroom setting, so I dropped the Education part of my degree and landed with an English Lit degree. What am I to do with that, right?! I didn’t know either, I just knew I liked what I was learning.
    • At the last minute, I decided that Amy’s Big Plan for Her Life was to become a copyeditor at a fiction publishing company to support  writing on the side. In case you missed the memo, full-time writer isn’t an instantaneous career and the publishing industry isn’t exactly prevalent in central IL. I fell into – would ya know it – teaching.
    • And I fell in love with that job – Youth Education Specialist at the Red Cross – until that job ceased to exist and I had to reevaluate my life. And I fell into the role of Executive Assistant, where I loved the people and certain aspects of the job, but I still heard the writerly life calling. I was tinkering with my novel with what spare energy I had and searching job sites for a copyeditor position at a fiction publishing company.
    • I vowed for years that I wouldn’t get swept up into this local Christian job vortex called Samaritan Ministries. I had a number of friends working there that every time the above plan A’s didn’t pan out, they’d tell me I should apply for a job at Samaritan. But noooo, that’s not a fiction publishing company copyeditor job. I wasn’t gonna “settle” for “less” than my dream. But I was also feeling stuck. I just wanted to be writing and editing and be paid for it. And so I fell into Plan B – copywriting and copyediting for Samaritan, a Christian approach to health care. Not quite fiction publishing, but at least I got the first half of my dream job description right 😉
    • and that’s where I am now. And it’s good. I like it. In fact, I got paid to write an article, so it’s a great start.

    UntitledPlan B is a little frustrating. The pharmacy kind and the life trajectory kind. It’s not The Plan, but it just keeps coming up anyway. Sometimes destiny knows what it’s doing though. It might be a little like Kuzco’s trip instead of like Izma’s, but don’t we all wanna be the pseudo-good guy anyway?

    I’m not saying let’s do Plan B forever. I’m just saying let’s try to enjoy the detour a bit. Maybe relax on the trek with Pacha while trying to avoid being murdered, maybe enjoy the weirdness of being a llama and try not to eat the disgusting bug but enjoy the fun disguises. That sorta thing 😉

Mental Health

Today I’m Not Strong

I’m not sure when it happened. There’s no moment I can pinpoint, no catalyst to blame. Or maybe there’s too many. Did it happen when I lost my dream? When I lost my community? When I lost my future?

The symptoms, the evidence piles up against me. I’m out of control.  To be blunt, I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost friends, I avoid gatherings, I’ve neglected my blog, I’ve postponed my writing/teaching, and I failed a dream I’ve been working toward for 4 years.

But this isn’t supposed to be a pity party. I haven’t lost everything (for instance, I haven’t lost weight…haha. ha. ha. I know, not funny…). I am discouraged, but I’m not gone. I am discouraged.

The thing is, we don’t go through this life unscathed. There’s some days I just don’t know if I can make it, but an easy life isn’t promised and I’m not sure that’s one I’d want anyhow.

I’m still working on myself. I’m still working on my dreams. I’m still working on looking past myself to all the other people in this world I can care for. I’m still working. I’m still here.

Those picture-perfect people who are the epitome of grace and beauty? You know the ones….You’ve got them on your facebook because they’re friends, but also to remind you that you’re not who you’re supposed to be, not yet. But when we enroll in a battle, when we’re fighting for something, it’s not pretty. We’re not necessarily gonna be pretty. We’re gonna be scarred and bruised and calloused and somehow still beautiful.

Some warriors have frazzled hair and cautious steps. That’s me. I’m not supposed to be this way, but if that’s the wound I carry from battling for love, for dreams, for life, then I’ll take it.

I’ll limp my way through and believe that somehow at the end I will come out “a pure and spotless bride without wrinkle.” I don’t know how I go from broken to spotless. I don’t know how I go from weary to youthful. But it’s my hope. And until then, I’m broken yet beautiful.

 

Blog Signature - Crisper

for the Writers, Mental Health, Musings

My Characters Respond to Your Problems

My goal of writing 1000 words this weekend flopped. Due to a minor personal crisis. Sure, I could write through crises, I mean that’s what we’re supposed to do. But I was a slacker.

Lucky for me, I was venting my problems to my friend and unofficial business manager, Yasmeen. Out of the blue she said, “What would Analiese say to you right now?”

“Suck it up!” was my response.

And despite my not writing practically anything this weekend, there was one thing I wrote:

What My Characters Would Say About My [& Your] Problems

In case you wondered what characters think, in case you wondered what it’s like to pour your problems out at a Freaks Anonymous meeting, in case you wanted some group therapy, here ya go:

    • Mrs. Trencher – “Hush hush, someone may hear. We’ll get you to a Doctor, get this fixed right up.”
    • Mr. Trencher – *buries head in book*
    • Dr. Wise – “Is that all? Not fascinating at all. Dr. Evil can fix you right up.”
    • Dr. Evil – “Is that all? I don’t give a wit about you, all I care about is ol’ Gep, but of course I can get you a right fascinating problem for that coot Wise if I really wanted.”
    • Geppetto – “There, there. I’m sure we can work this out for all of us. You just need family. We’ll be your family” *hands over lifelong contract for me to sign*
    • Sylas – “What’d you expect, a couple freaks like us?”
    • Analiese – “Suck it up, you spoiled rich brat. Suck. It. Up. Poooor you, you have it soooo hard. Deal with it.”
    • Phoebe – “Well I suppose I can’t say I understand where you’re at. Never will, never can at least. That must be rough, I’m so sorry.”
    • Nick – “It’ll be a’ight. Give it time. You’ll get used to us.”
    • Sullivan – *nods head empathetically, saunters off ‘cause no one’s looking*
    • RaeChae – “Get over yourself, we need to do something. There’s a bigger problem. Get rid of big problem, maybe little you problem goes away. Now, what’s the plan?”
    • Jasper – *hands The Forgettable some paper and pen*
    • The Forgettable – *scribbles note* “Read this once I’m gone.” *Leaves* Note says: “For Freedom: get out now!”
    • Narrator – “Maybe it’s good I can’t remember. Maybe I’d have more problems. But maybe having a reason for problems is worth it…?”
    •  

    • Julia – “Wow, you just throw it all out there, yeah? Dump it on anyone who will listen? Hmmm. Well, let’s get you out of this mess.” *leaps right into the ‘mess’ before making a plan*

What About YOU?

What do you think your favorite character (not just from my unpublished book) would say about life’s problems?
 
And which of my characters do you think you’re most like when responding to someone’s life problems?