How Vocal Inspired Me To Make Some Life Changes
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
Three months ago, my life was different. I felt like my primary purpose or objective was to manage my bipolar disorder and the physical symptoms of my brain disorder. I kept my house clean on the days I could get off the couch. If I felt like painting wooden signs, I did. If I wanted to work on furniture pieces that I have yet to finish, that is what I would do. If I felt like writing or had something to say, I would write, only it wouldn’t go anywhere. I was not content with any facet of my life—even my marriage. I was miserable most of the time. I was in a funk of my own doing.
I have been writing for as far back as I can remember. In school, book reports, research papers, and creative writing were my favorites. As an adult, I have had a few different blogs. It seemed like every time I had a new life situation, I started a blog about it. Then I would lose interest in creating content for them. I have written more poetry pieces than I can count. And everyone in my family and friends circle has received some writing from me, for just them. So last year, I came up with a great idea-I was going to write a book! I now know that jumping right into a book at that time was like trying to fly a jumbo jet after playing a flight simulator game. That pushed me deeper into my funk. The lack of direction or accomplishment in every part of my life was keeping me down. Then I got this message from one of my friends:
“Hey, hope all is well. Check out this writing contest.”
He sent me a link to the Doomsday Challenge. So I joined Vocal, wrote a story that met all the guidelines, and submitted it. I wasn’t expecting to win, but it stirred something inside of me. Vocal announced their Summer Fiction Series, and I was hooked. On Facebook, I joined The Vocal Creators Lounge, The Vocal Creators Support Group, and the Vocal Social Society. I read what others posted. There were days where I spent hours reading. I quickly identified who some great writers are, and I set out to read their works. I entered one piece for each challenge, still not expecting to win. The thrill of the contest, the fact that each piece had a deadline, and the sense of community I found in these groups gave me the boost I needed. I began submitting previous writings and poems, and suddenly, it seemed like I had a lot to say. Finding Vocal and these groups are what spurred on the desire to make some changes.
I Needed Structure To My Days
As much as I was reading and writing, there was no structure or routine to my days. I would want to sit down and write but would get sidetracked by a sign order I had to finish, or housework, or physically not feeling well. Before I knew it, the day was behind me. So I would spend an hour or so each night reading Vocal stories. The week would get away from me, and before I knew it, I had gone three or four days without writing. So I developed a routine. I started blocking out my days and actually using a day planner. I would list the things I wanted to accomplish that day, including the writing I wanted to get done. My goal was to write every day. Something. Anything. Eventually, a daily routine emerged—the effects of blocking my time out actually spilled over into other parts of my life.
I Needed A Place To Write
In the beginning, I would get out my laptop and write wherever I wanted. Outside by the garden, at the dining room table, on the couch. It was a novel idea (no pun intended), but I quickly realized that was not working. I got sidetracked too easily. My husband noticed too. So he bought me a writer’s desk, a nice lamp, and cleared out a spot for me in the living room. My son even bought me a beautiful nature-themed painting to hang above my desk. I made it my own, and now I only write at my desk. It may seem like a small thing, but it increased my productivity, and it felt good.
I Needed Encouragement
Don’t get me wrong; my husband is my biggest encourager. Certain family members and friends have been a great source of encouragement as well. But I needed feedback from other writers. I found that in the Vocal groups on Facebook. And it has helped my writing a great deal.
I Needed Inspiration
Many times, I would sit in front of my laptop and stare at the blank page, the cursor blinking at me as if to say, “C’mon, I’m waiting.” It was like at that moment, I suddenly had nothing to say. Reading so many stories from other writers on Vocal helped me see that inspiration is everywhere. The people you meet. The sunset after a stormy day. The love I share with my husband and family. Even in the mundane, there is inspiration.
I Needed Accountability
Writing wasn’t the only part of my life I was struggling with. Fighting off the lows of Bipolar Depression is a full-time job, and I have a great support system for that. One of my friends, who understands that staying in your normal routine is a big part of battling depression, helps me. Kind of like a fake it ‘til you make it thing. I let my team know when I am manic and depressed, and they hold me accountable for sticking to my routine as much as possible. They ask me what I am working on at the moment. They ask me when contest deadlines are and how close I am to being done. In short, they help me get off the couch.
Still with me? Good. Here is where I land the plane.
Changes Across The Board
While the changes I have made were specifically focused on improving my writing and my productivity, there were side effects. The organization and focus spilled over to other parts of my life. I have become more intentional with my art, not just writing. I have something that is just mine to talk to my husband about, which has improved our communication. I have gotten better at prioritizing goals and objectives. The mundane tasks of housework and cooking dinner didn’t seem so mundane anymore because I started accomplishing things other than housework. I have become more motivated across the board, and I am actually selling my art again in several local craft and vendor shows. And probably most important? I am no longer miserable or dissatisfied. Of course, I still have my bad days physically and mentally. But instead of letting it get me down for days after the rough patch has passed, I get right back up and at it again. The change I am most excited about? Taking writing classes to improve my craft.
Don’t get me wrong- I am not going so far as to say that Vocal saved me, but Vocal started me on this path. Even if I never win a challenge or get a top story, Vocal is worth it to me. I don’t know if I would have made any of these changes without the kick in the ass Vocal gave me.