Behind the Scenes of the Writing Life (Spread the Love Blog Tour)

Ya’ll. The writing life is tough. The fighting off of lies and self doubt to get the words on the page, yes, but also fitting in writing amongst all The Other Things.

I struggle to keep up the blog when I’m focused on a big project, and I might have let it go entirely this month, were it not for you all—my readers–who keep commenting, emailing, and connecting with me, reminding me that this online thing is all about relationships, and that’s what I love about it first, and last, and even in the busy moments. So, today I’m pausing all my various work-flows to join in with a fun little blog hop, which gives me the chance to write just for the fun of it (instead of for a deadline) and gives you a peek behind the scenes of what this crazy writing life looks like at my house…

Thanks to my friend, Gayl, who invited me on to the Spread the Love Blog Tour. I’m honored by her friendship and grateful for the inspiration she is as a wife, mother (and grandmother!) pursuing creative expression as a way to grow closer to and glorify our God. You can read her post in the tour here, and here are my answers to the same questions:

What are you currently working on?

My latest project is a new book (that will be available in print and digitally!) called, Your Real Food Journey. This book has been on my heart and in my conversations for years, but only finally felt called to put it all on paper this spring. You know how you look around and feel like at least 14 other people have already said what you thought you might say in a book, so you chuck the idea? But then you have a conversation with a friend and they seem to really want your take on the subject? That was me when I thought about writing a book about real food basics, and it was my friend Laura who was peppering me with questions two months ago that made me realize I wanted to serve my readers and my friends by putting this content in book form.

Some of the content originally appeared in my 31 days series last October, which has continued to be a popular resource for my readers. I started there, and then ran with it till it caught wind like a kite. The concept in that series has matured into a book that guides you through what I consider to be 10 key steps on the real food journey, plus a collection of recipes and menu plans, and my best advice for continuing the journey–stress free and with steady progress. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a project–I love offering practical help in a way that doesn’t overwhelm people, and this is my best effort yet.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

There are a lot of ‘entry level’ books out there for people who are just beginning the journey to feeding their families real food. I’ve read plenty of them. The challenge I have seen is that they often include so much information, and so many dozens of ‘baby steps’ you can take, that it gets overwhelming before you finish the book, much less step into your kitchen. I wanted to present the information in a sequential way so that people can look at it as a process, find where they are in the process, and then jump in and take the next small step.

So many people experience burnout when trying to master a new skill or reach a big goal. My message throughout the book is ‘this is a journey’ and I show you how you can make slow, steady progress that will have lasting impact.

Why do you write/create what you do?

I can’t not. I have these conversations about real food and baby steps and ‘you can do it! Here’s a tip to help you!’ every day via email and in real life. For a while I tried to get beyond that to a higher calling, something more spiritual or something. This year I finally came to grips with the reality that my gift, my thing I’m called to do for the glory of God, is to teach people how to fit more real food into their lives, because it’s what He’s made me good at. It’s not fancy. You won’t find ‘Cook’ on a list of spiritual gifts or church staff members. But it’s my thing. And I’m passionate about it because I’ve seen the difference that real food can make in quality of life–in giving us energy to live well and serve others.

A book is the most efficient and shareable way I’ve found to present the information. It allows me to hand out a book when I meet someone at a park, or send a download to someone on the other side of the world. (I just love making books!)

How does your creating/writing process work?

Ha.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Let’s just say this is the craziest, hardest thing in my life. I strive and stew and rant and wrestle and keep coming back, over and over, to the undeniable truth that I can’t do this–this writing a book while being a mother and a dozen other things. Not on my own. And that is the very reason I am called to it, because the call keeps me coming back, exhausted, terrified, needy, to my Lord. Who takes my face in His hands and reminds me yet again that I am not doing what I do to earn approval with man or points with Him. That I am not less if I fail or more if I succeed. That the only thing He has called me to is to faithfully follow and lean on Him.

So I set to again. I’m in a season of getting up early, despite nursing 2-3 times per night still with Lydia, because that 20-40 minutes of absolute quiet before the kids get up recharges me for the day even better than sleep. Despite an overweight inbox, a blog, a book, and my personal reading list, I give the first section of that time to God. Despite the temptation to get stuff done before the kids need me, I try not to rush my devotions, and instead try to sit quietly, read slowly through some passage of scripture, journal prayers, listen to some worship songs, and just be still before my God. This is so counter intuitive for me–I’m a get-it-done, check-it-all-off-the-list-as-fast-as-possible kind of person. Slowing down and just not…doing…hardly…anything at the beginning of my day is just not my thing. But the way He has met me in the mornings the last few months has been completely life changing. It equips me to face whatever task I have that day from a place of rest.

All that to say, sometimes I get some work done before breakfast. Often, not. Often, I try to finish up an email or a blog post or a chapter I’ve had on my mind while the household wakes up around me and chaos begins to ensue. Not the best way to start the day, I’ll admit. My next possible window of time is around 11am, when we’ve finished breakfast, housework, and school (we homeschool year round). But Lydia is usually awake by that time, so I’m nursing again, and fixing lunch and thinking about dinner, etc. etc. I might get some emails done then.

Finally, if we have nothing going on and I’m not going grocery shopping or taking my kids to the park or the pool, or I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for that persistent knot in my back, I sit down around 2pm and get to work till 4pm. This is not un-interrupted time–it’s just less-interrupted. And it only happens maybe 2-3 times a week at this point. No wonder I struggle to make progress on my goals! And yet, He reminded me the other day “Steady plodding brings success.” I love to take huge steps forward, getting big chunks of work done at a time, but this project has mostly moved forward in 30 minute increments. And it has moved forward–this week I can see the finish line!

With the time I’m actually able to sit down and focus being so small, I am in gathering mode all day long so that when I do sit down, I have everything I need to move forward. I have a large, graph paper journal I got at Wal-Mart (here’s a similar one on Amazon{affiliate link}) and I jot stuff in it all day long. I process life through fellowship, so often a phone call, email, or in real life conversation actually moves me forward on a concept I want to write about. Being a writer is an all-day affair for me–so many of my activities ready me for the moment when my fingers settle onto the keyboard.

I no longer work in the evenings. Though there may be 3 hours available after the kids are in bed before my own eyes shut, I’ve realized it’s just not my most productive time, and screen time of any sort before bed really affects my quality of rest. I quit checking email or scrolling instagram (my favorite online indulgence) by 8pm most nights. I read in the evening, connect with my husband, and write snail mail letters to friends. this makes me sound terribly disciplined–I’m not. I’m just desperate to thrive despite this challenging season, so I do what I know I have to do to be able to breath.

As writers we’re told to give our best, most productive hours to our craft, and for many people that’s first thing in the morning. As a wife and mother, those hours are already committed. I’ve had to work with second best–stolen moments during nap times or car rides or random moments of quiet, but the One who called me to the writing life has proved faithful to meet me and give me words during those times. It’s an exhausting, thrilling, adventure, most accurately compared to a day at a roller coaster park.

And I’ve never felt more alive.

Your Turn

I’m supposed to tag three friends to keep this Blog Hop going. My friends Shannon and Jessica agreed to be a part…

I’ve known Shannon for two years now (which is, like, forever in computer time) and her story and blog remain one of the most impactful I’ve ever found online. I’m not going to spoil the surprise of what I know she’s working on, just know this: it’s gonna be amazing.

My friend Jess is in an interesting season of blogging–they’re remodeling their house to accommodate their very full life with a 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old triplets. Somehow she’s still finding time to blog which is super inspiring to me. I know you’ll be encouraged at a glimpse into her life right now.

I just need one more–how about you? If you’d like to join this blog hop, simply post your answers to these questions on your blog, linking to me, and three of your blogging friends! Do leave a link to your post in the comments so I can pop by and say hi! I’d love to see what you’re up to!

 

6 responses to “Behind the Scenes of the Writing Life (Spread the Love Blog Tour)”

  1. Shannon Coe Avatar

    OH, I loved reading this! You are truly an inspiration to me. Your encouragement has been a vital part of my writing. I will be working on my completing my turn. This is fun!

  2. Natasha Metzler Avatar

    Oh, Trina. How I needed to read this today. I love writing books too and I desperately needed your inspiration. Thank you. <3

    1. Trina Avatar

      Hey, mamma! it’s a whole new world when you add mommying into the mix, eh? But He who has called us is faithful…

  3. Lisa Avatar

    I always find your writing emails so encouraging. I have a hard time working in pieces, but I am trying so hard to do so, or else those little snippets will just be squandered. I too get up early – no matter how tired I am (I’m still getting up once a night with my son) – because I NEED that quiet time before the masses descend on me. 🙂 And I get in bed early enough to read for at least an hour. I love it and I love seeing completed books added regularly to my “books I’ve read” notebook.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Lisa, I love that you’re doing the ‘early to rise, early to bed (to read!) thing, too!

  4. Gayl Avatar

    Trina, I loved getting this glimpse into your life! I really like your idea of getting offline around 8:00 p.m. in order to give time for reading, and spending time with your husband. It would be so good for me to do the same. I get busy reading things on facebook and looking at instagram and end up staying up much too late. Your new book sounds like a real winner, just like your cookbook! I love your idea of presenting small ways people can make changes in the food they eat. You are right, it is a journey and every small step taken is a victory in moving towards eating real food. I really enjoyed reading about your writing process!

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