We all get asked to volunteer for probably more than a dozen different things during the year. Sometimes there are things we’d truly love to participate in or become a part of, and then there are others that . . . well, we’d rather get run over by a car than get stuck on another dull board.
But sometimes as authors, I think we might just get asked a little more often than others do. It’s understandable. We seem to have so much time on our hands. Even wonderfully supportive spouses who are normally understanding can forget that if you’re staring into space, in front of your computer, you’re actually working and say, "hey, if you’re not doing anything, would you mind . . . ?"
So how do you keep from volunteering every time someone calls or emails or knocks on your door? I’m not sure I have an answer, except that you have to be honest with others and yourself and look at the time you have and decide if you can be an effective volunteer or not.
Last year I turned down many requests unless they directly related to my career. I knew that with two books coming out, plus homeschooling my children, and my normal writing schedule, I’d be swamped. I know others that can handle more, but I couldn’t. It wouldn’t have been fair to the commitments I already had or to the people I would supposedly be helping out. I felt bad, but promised myself that this year, I’d make up for it. And have accepted a couple of volunteer positions already. One of them being the position of my daughter’s Brownie girl scout troop’s cookie mom. A dangerous job, being surrounded by all those delicious cookies! Also incredibly time consuming as some of you moms out there who have done this know. With organizing all the girls and moms and collecting orders and money, distributing the cookies – even something as simple as this will kill hours of my time. But this year I’m up for the challenge.
So how does this relate to writing? In our writing life I think we need to be careful how much we pile onto ourselves too. I know authors who can write four or five books a year and do a great job. If I tried to do that I make myself insane. So like in the rest of my life I mentally shelve "extra" stories and ideas I may have and do not volunteer to work on them until I’ve finished what I committed myself to already.
On days that I feel bad, I tell myself that what’s important is not how much I’m getting done, but how well I’m doing what I’m doing. And that helps, a little . . . .