I wish I could tattoo this post on Self-Discipline by Kristen Lamb to the inside of my eyelids. This:
For a long time I was lazy. I was blessed with a sharp mind, so I’d gotten through school writing papers the night before, sliding by, and dazzling with BS and glitter. I thought I had to “feel” like doing something to do it. I needed to be “in the mood” to clean, write, study, do dishes, etc. I let emotions drive my decisions and actions.
And emotions cannot drive. Seriously. Emotions text and look at Facebook when they drive.
I have a saying, “Small truths reveal larger truths.” If we can’t take control over a pile of laundry, how can we take control of our writing futures? Back then, I thought everything had to be BIG. I wrote the ten-page paper in ONE day. Cleaned the ENTIRE house in ONE afternoon. Planted ALL the flowers in the ENTIRE yard in ONE morning.
…and half-killed myself in the process only to have shoddy, short-term success.
Seriously, that IS me. Not just where writing is concerned, but my whole damn life. It’s why I’m overweight, why I’m a Jill Of All Trades and Mistress of None. And it’s definitely why I have one short story self-published and an arsenal of WIPs and a half-revised novel that aren’t yet published.
“Just do it” has always been frustrating as hell. Not that I’m frustrated with those who say it, but more that it makes me frustrated with myself.
See, I don’t just have an inner child. I have an inner BRAT. I suspect because I was always a good girl growing up, and my parents had some pretty unhealthy expectations of us kids. A father who taught and believed that if you didn’t look good, you couldn’t like yourself, to the point of taking his 7-ish-year-old daughter to a military doctor for a lecture on being too fat (looking back on photos is enraging, as I wasn’t fat in the least!). A mother who bought into that shit enough to stay married to it while dieting obsessively and keeping a military-clean house for years. Gorgeous and talented older siblings who would forever be cooler than me (seriously, they still are). It was a lot to live up to, and I failed pretty regularly.
At some point, that inner child decided to give a big “FUCK YOU” to everyone, and I’ve been struggling with her ever since. She’s why my house is almost always a mess, why I never make my bed, why I’m overweight, why I am always late, and always procrastinate. To my inner child, these are my failures. To my inner brat, these are rebellions. Maybe even victories.
My inner brat laughs in the face of lists. “Rewards systems? HA! If I want something, I’ll damn well have it when I want it, and you can’t stop, me!” she says. Meanwhile, my inner good girl cringes and flails and nails herself up to a cross.
Neither of them are doing me any good. It’s just unfortunate that my inner good girl is the easiest one to let go of. My inner brat is nearly impossible to reason with, even long enough to explain that, hey, there is nothing to rebel against. No one cares! Seriously, the asshole father died years ago. Mom’s got her head on straight. I’ve learned that my older siblings are just as much of a hot mess as I am, in their own unique ways. No one who matters is judging me or placing expectations on me. The brattiness is… well, pointless. Seriously. With the exception of chocolate and sleeping late, it’s not like I actually enjoy the behavior of my inner brat.
So, sitting here writing this, I’ve been trying to think of something I can give my inner brat to keep her occupied. My mind keeps drifting to my new-to-me car that’s currently in the shop for some tweaks. It’s shiny and zippy and black and has a sunroof. *smirk* That could be a start. Wonder what else? I’m thinking if I can turn my brat into a bad girl, or better yet, a badass, would that be reward enough? Is it just a pipe dream? It’s a different approach, anyway. I’ll let you know how it works.
In the meantime, babysteps. Starting with this blog entry. Then an hour and a half of chores, thirty minutes of admin/business work for my day job, then my next writing project. How about you? Do you have an inner brat, and if so, how do you control her/him, if at all? Ideas are welcome, but I make no promises as to whether or not I’ll accept your advice. Because, well – the whole inner brat part of it. Doesn’t take advice or discipline well.