Dodging the Blues by Letting Things Slide

Last week I interviewed Katrina Leupp, an up-and-coming sociologist and researcher at the University of Washington, on behalf of EHow.com.

Leupp’s latest research, involving 1,600 stay-at-home and working mothers of small children, showed a significant link between “super mom” attitudes—i.e., believing you can “do it all” with ease—and an increased risk for depressive symptoms. Women who were more skeptical about balancing work and motherhood prior to child-rearing, were less depressed.

The good news, according to Leupp, is this: “You can happily combine child-rearing and a career, if you’re willing to let some things slide.” Mothers should ask for help, she advised, not aim for perfection and learn to properly prioritize. (Read the full article here: Why You Should Let Things Slide. Love to hear your thoughts!)

I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Leupp’s findings and the writer’s life—a practice I’m prone to, perhaps partly because I’m not a mother myself.

If we believe that writing our novel, short story or screenplay will be simple, a piece of literary cake, we’re in for a none-too-pleasurable surprise. The gooey chocolate turns out to be carob. The frosting may be bitter or the filling too sweet. Writing, particularly amidst a hectic lifestyle, is not supposed to be easy. If we develop “super writer” attitudes, thinking we can easily “do it all,” we, too, may be prone to sleep problems, foggy thinking, loneliness and tears.

Successful writers don’t write because it’s easy or stop because it’s not. We write because we love it. Because we feel we must. Because we’ll feel sad and empty later if we don’t. And if we stick with it, doing our best and allowing for mistakes, the end prize is worth all the cakes in the world’s bakeries combined…in MHO. 😉

So what can we let slide? Maybe it’s not going to every social event we feel obligated to attend, turning our cell phones off during work time or allowing dirty dishes to wait a while longer. Each time we sit down before an empty page, we can give ourselves permission to simply write, without thoughts of “This better be great or else!” Sometimes it means allowing ourselves to sit and daydream before we start typing at all. It most definitely means listening to and following our instincts.

What about you? What are you willing to let slide? And more importantly, what is doing so worth to you?

NEWS: I’m pleased to announce the winner of the Amazon.com gift card drawing, for last week’s “comment of the week” contest: Ellis Shuman. Offer congrats and check out his fabulous blog, Ellis Shuman Writes here.