People frequently ask me, “How do you do all that?” when they find out the irons I have in the fire. While it is true that when I was younger, I would frequently bite off more than I could chew. But it is also true that I’ve learned a lot since then and, while some might disagree with me, no longer am as subject to that foible as I once was. So, how do I do all that?
There are two simple answers, that end up becoming complex in the telling. One is organizational and time management skills, which I was emphatically NOT born with (in case you feel, like I do, that busy people must be part magician). I went to lots of classes and read a lot of books, have tried a lot of things, and worked out what works for me. While I could write an entire essay on that subject (and, truthfully, probably a whole book or five), because I have many ideas and opinions on it, the subject I wish to discuss today concerns the second answer: I have help.
We will now pause for those of you who wish to twit me on the fact that yes, I do need professional help.
Moving on now. What I mean by help is, simply put, playmates. I don’t mean professional or paid help (which I do also, in select areas, utilize – but I am not wealthy, so cannot use as much outside paid assistance as I might, in my more grandiose moments, wish). I mean I find people with similar interests, and we schedule time together to do things.
Yes, it really is that simple.
So, what kinds of things do I work with others on?
Pretty much anything, including housecleaning and bill paying. You know the Apple ad, “there’s an app for that?” Same thing here. If you have an interest, chances are high that there are others out there with the same interest. Now, I’m very fortunate to live in the third largest city in the United States, so that gives me about nine million potential buddies. But we also have this thing called the internet (or, for you LOL users out there, the interwebs). Don’t overlook the power of groups on the internet. I’m here to tell you that it can be a very comforting thing that another human being out there knows your trials and tribulations, even if they’re four thousand miles away.
We have a candle making party every year, for example. It’s always the first weekend in February, and is either one or both days. This year, we’ll do two days. Paraffin candles the first, beeswax the second. We make pretty much all the candles we’ll use in the coming year during that weekend.
What’s fascinating is this: we (the friend of mine who hosts these with me) always hope to do more than one candle weekend. But when you add in the time for prep (putting down cardboard on the floor to catch drips, wrapping the stove and counters with foil, melting the pots…) it’s a huge job. We’ve only done it one year out of the last ten. But we have done candle parties TEN years out of the past ten. Because we know people are coming, and now people know we do these and about when we do them so they ask for it, it adds power to the calendar, and ensures that we get at least one candle day a year. And now, at a remove of doing them for a decade, I actually have learned quite a lot about the process – without even taking a class!
Now, don’t underestimate the power of classes, either – because they have the same function. The only reason I’m focusing on groups here, as in “groups of friends or acquaintances with similar interests” is that frequently, the latter do not charge whereas the former do. On the other hand, classes for which one pays might induce one to be more serious about going. It’s up to the individual.
What else have we done in a group?
Spiritual exploration, political discussion, parties (I’m a pot luck expert by now), hiking, walking, weight loss, sales training, lead generation for sales, house cleaning and organization, knitting and sewing (any of the handicrafts), paper arts, Pysanky (Ukranian decorated eggs), bread making, soup making, car maintenance (no kidding – changed my oil with a buddy back in the days before complex catalytic converters and computer tune-ups)…
Even if you’re an introvert, don’t underestimate the power of people. We all have interests and skills, and others do too. It makes sense to leverage those skills. Maybe I’m great at organization and you’re great at web design. So, I’ll organize your office and files, and you design my website. Or, better yet, we teach each other our skills – synergy at its truest distillation.
Now, what the heck does this have to do with writing?
Well, think about it. This is a group blog.
(The light bulb should be going off right about now.)
See? Even writing can be done in group – either an in-person one, or a “virtual” one. Schedule write-ins, prompt groups, contests, anything your little heart desires.
There’s a group for that.