THE THREE ESSENTIALS
by Pamela Cowan
April 19, 2022
I’m a former project manager and a part-time writer. I thought once I left the day job, I would be able to write full time. Ha!
Since retiring I’ve been constantly shocked by the many, many things on my daily to-do list. I’m first and foremost a learning coach for my granddaughter, homeschooling due to Covid. I’m helping my husband remodel our hundred-year-old house and garden. I’ve got a side business maintaining various websites. I’m a member of the publishing cooperative, Windtree Press, a board member and anthology editor of the Northwest Independent Writers Association, and a member of two writing groups, Sisters in Crime and Willamette Writers. Most of all I write–a lot!
I write novels, short stories, articles, magnets, blog posts and advertising copy. I create my own covers and format my own books. I also market what I write and to be successful I consistently work to improve both my writing and marketing skills. To that end I study by watching videos and webinars, listen to podcasts and take online classes. I also try to find time to support other writers by reading, editing, reviewing and promoting their work, writing content for their blogs, and pitching in at events.
The list of what it takes to be a writer goes on an on. On top of that I also have find time to be the best mom, grandmother, wife, sister and friend I can be.
Don’t get me wrong—being a writer is a choice. If some days leave me overwhelmed, exhausted and questioning my sanity, that’s on me. What I’ve discovered, however, is that many days the to-do list seems manageable and the goals reachable. Why? It comes down to three essential things: time, energy, and motivation. If I do my best to make sure I have as much of each of these as I can, then life becomes a lot more manageable.
Of course, there is never enough time. Sure, maybe I could give up TV, Facebook, or TikTok time—but I won’t. Still, I do try to use my time productively. I wash dishes while waiting for a cup of coffee to brew. I edit a short story while waiting for my printer to grind out a three-hundred-page manuscript for my review. I delegate and multitask and try not to waste a single minute. Those minutes add up.
Energy is another matter. Energy is tied to wellness, and I work hard to stay well. I take my medicine on time every time. I try to keep my diet low on sugar and high on healthy. I walk most days and try to get some sunshine. Most crucial, I make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep a night. If I don’t, I know I’ll be worthless the next day.
The final thing I need is a reason to get out of bed, which for me is usually between five and six in the morning. The time to write in peace and quiet while watching the sun come up is my daily motivation. So is my granddaughter, who arrives at seven thirty and is picked up around two. After that I spend an hour or two doing admin work, organizing, updating the ledger, and marketing. After that it’s house and yard work, running errands, shopping, playing guitar, painting, and spending time with family and friends.
Being a writer, being anyone, can be stressful and overwhelming. What I’ve learned is that I can make all the to do lists I want, develop plans, and identify goals, but only if I take care of myself and try to ensure I’ve given myself time, energy and motivation can I hope to have the happiest, most productive days I’m capable of.
Pamela Cowan is an award-winning, Pacific Northwest author, best known for her psychological thrillers. She has degrees in Communication and Organizational Psychology but is most proud of being selected to take a class from Ursula K. Le Guinn. An army brat who was born in Germany, she moved with her family 17 times before her father retired to Oregon, where she has stubbornly remained. She has two grown children, a remarkably patient and supportive husband, an unruly flock of quail, and a killer view of the lake.