Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Secrets of Kidlit: A Little Help, Please?

We are two and a half weeks into 2018 and maybe you are already finding that your new year's resolutions are quite going as well as you hoped. Or maybe, you are totally rocking this January with no hiccups. Either way, it's a good time to take a look at your goals for this year and talk about one important element that may keep you from reaching your potential - the fear of asking for help.

The truth is, no matter how strong our resolve is, no matter how much we fight to stick to our plans, there will be days (weeks, months...) where we stumble. It can happen because life throws several curve balls your way. Or maybe it's because self-doubt or depression has clawed its way in. Or you may just have ten-too-many items on your daily to-do list. Whatever the cause, asking for help can make a huge difference in your writing life.

For many of us, asking for help is hard. We fear that people would think of us as being weak if we can't get do everything ourselves. But we are not super heroes. And unless time-turners become an actual thing, there will never be enough time to get to everything we want and/or need to accomplish.

This post is a perfect example of that. I wanted to get this post done, but there was no way I could do it without help from my fellow writers at Kidliterati. I am currently writing this in a coffee shop near my child's doctor's office while she is undergoing medical testing. The spring semester of school starts in two-and-half hours, and sometime later today, I'm going to research the university hospitals my child's doctor recommended since months of testing and waiting have given us no answers. Oh, and my other kid? Mono. I mean ! ! ! I have writing I'd like to do, too, you know? Anyway, I shined the bat signal into the sky and said, "I need help! And hey, let's write this post on asking for help!"

So, here is what some of writers at Kidliterati said about asking for help to meet their writing goals:

"As a mom of two school age children, I've had to learn to ask for help in order to protect my writing time. Sometimes that means asking someone else to pick my kid up or keep them for the afternoon. I have never been good about asking for that kind of help, even though I often do the same thing for other people. What I found out was that people are happy to help. They're even excited to help, if they know they're helping me meet a deadline! Writing is a team sport.

"I've also learned that I need to communicate my needs to my spouse so that he has a chance to support me. It's so easy to internalize all the pressure and leave him in the dark. Again, I'm horrible at asking for help! I feel like such a failure when I do. But the truth is that none of us exist in a vacuum. We are all part of the same existence, and learning to lean on each other just makes our lives that much richer."

- Melanie Conklin

"One of the biggest challenges I've faced with writing is time. I learned really quickly that it's completely okay to ask for more time from your professional partners, specifically your agent and your editor. Needing an extension on a deadline doesn't make you a professional failure. It only means you're a human being with a family, a day job, health to maintain, a manuscript to perfect, etc. Nine times out of ten, your agent and editor will completely understand."

- Gail Nall

"My mental health has been something I've really struggled with this year. Anxiety and depression have certainly tried their hardest to kick my brain's butt and for a while there, I thought maybe they'd succeeded. The only time I wasn't feeling the effects of them were when I was writing. But when I stepped away, those unwelcome thoughts and worries picked right back up where they left off. What helped me more than anything was finally opening up to my wife and talking about it. It wasn't easy, but I'm so glad I did. Knowing we have someone out there who will listen to us and walk with us as we take steps to get the help we need? That makes all the difference in the world."

- Brooks Benjamin

"This makes me think of a line from Bruce Springsteen's For You: "I could give it all to you now if only you could ask." (You can take the girl out of Jersey, but well, you know the rest.) The truth is, I have an incredibly supportive family and eager-to-help friends, and the only thing that would stop them from helping me is... me! Asking for help is extremely hard because I think I should be able to do it all on my own. Of course, I would never feel that way about a friend who asked me for help, but often we're much harder on ourselves than we are on our loved ones. I need to remember that there are only so many hours in a day, and that there needs to be a balance of work, family, and writing time. So if it takes me a month longer to finish a manuscript, so be it. The older I get the more I realize that I deserve to give the same amount of nurturing to myself as I give to others."

- Ronni Arno

"Finding the time to write and edit and meet deadlines is definitely the hardest part for me. That and then balancing everything out between being a mom, a partner, and having a bit of time for myself. To further complicate things, I homeschool our kids. This means, 1. I get to spend time with them (yay!), but 2. I don't get any time during the day to write (boo!). So I'm an evenings and weekends writer. Thank goodness for the support and flexibility of my husband (and our daughters) - we've made it work (because we always do). It was definitely more difficult to ask for the help/time and, more, to justify it (hello, mom guilt!) when I was still working to get published and essentially chasing a dream. I'll admit, I still have a hard time with it but now I have an actual deadline and people depending on me, I don't feel as guilty. Though, had I not asked for the time to write all those years when I was working my way to getting published, I'd have never gotten here."

- Jessika Fleck

Those are amazing answers! Thank you, Kidliterati!

So, when reviewing your New Year's Resolutions, add the words, "Ask for help!" If you stick to that resolution, you might just find that asking for help made 2018 your best year yet!

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