Writing for Myself. And for Always.

By guest blogger Jenn Martin-Ilo

I RECENTLY LOST my job because my company decided to outsource some of its payroll HR duties. Since I’ve been home, I have done a lot of thinking: What else can you do with freedom?

(Okay, so I don’t really have much freedom since I have a six-month-old baby . . . but who’s counting?)

I have written down a list of the things I want to accomplish. Of course, finding new employment is at the top of the list. My family cannot survive without the dual income. Even if we must pay a sitter, it is slightly better than my staying home and collecting unemployment benefits.

Second on my list is to start writing more. Milli has been after me to be a guest writer for her other blog, Milliver’s Travels; however, even though I’ve started my blog post many times, I have yet to finish it. I wanted to do a piece about my wedding and the place where it was held (Editor’s note: Jenn was married in beautiful Hawai’i, which is why I’m after her to share this with us), but for some reason, when I sit down to write, the only things that come to mind are matter-of-fact occurrences: my best friend and matron of honor spilled wine on her gown before the wedding. We were lucky only because my girls’ dresses were a burgundy color.

I consistently sign up for 10K days and then flake out. I tell myself (and Milli) that it’s Baby keeping me from writing all day, yet I know that’s a cop-out. I am just too lazy. Fearful? Uninspired?

Isn’t the whole goal not really to write 10,000 words, but to WRITE, period?

Still, I am afraid. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid I won’t be able to meet the 10,000 word goal. I am afraid that even if I do write 10K words, they’ll be crap. I am afraid that if I put my wedding into words I won’t be able to describe the beauty that made it work. Such a simple wedding in such a simple place, yet it meant so very much.

Perhaps soon. Perhaps I shall get my behind in gear and write. Not for Milli. Not for an audience of blank faces. But for myself. And for always.


Jenn & baby JD

When she’s not pulling expensive items from her son, JD’s, mouth, feeding him, or otherwise spending quality time with him, Jenn Martin-Ilo can be found somewhere deep inside the organized chaos of her Mililani, Hawaii home, usually on her computer, iPad, deeply engrossed in a book, or trying to gain back the trust of her two cats after bringing home the evil “hoomin kitteh” (translated: baby). Jenn has an English degree from the University of Hawaii and hopes to go back for her Master’s with a focus on Creative Non-fiction. She thinks that perhaps she’ll wait until her son is college-aged so she may do her part to embarrass him, as all parents are wont to do with their children at some point. She is currently collecting photos and videos of JD to add fuel to the embarrassment fire! Jenn tweets as Jemmie211.

13 Responses to Writing for Myself. And for Always.
  1. Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    July 15, 2011 | 4:53 AM

    This resonates with me because I also put off wriitng when the time is not right — for me it’s during times of high stress. If not worried about failure, then I’m just plain worried. This is definitely a huge writing inhibitor…but I try to plug away a blog at a time or a couple hundred fiction words at a time. (p.s. I think a blog post about the matter-of-fact occurrences at your wedding sounds really interesting! It’s life! Sorry about your job 🙁

    • Jenn M
      July 15, 2011 | 6:36 PM

      Hi Julia!

      Thanks for your wonderful comment! I’m so glad I’m not alone! I have downloaded an app to my iPad that gives me a set amount of minutes to write, and I’m supposed to follow it once a day. Unfortunately, I had forgotten I downloaded it and rediscovered it today as I was waiting for a job interview to start!

      As to the wedding piece, Milli has given me the “No Excuses” email of questions I can use to help get my writing going!


  2. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    July 15, 2011 | 8:44 AM

    Hi Jenn! Great post!

    Just Do It is a great motto for Nike, unfortunately it doesn’t always work for everything. However, if you’ve been around Milli any length of time I’m sure you’ve heard her say to give yourself permission to write crappy words.

    It works too. In fact, you can even sit down with the intention of writing crappy words. Just set a goal to sit down and pound out 500 crappy words.

    You will discover it can be very liberating. You might also discover that the words aren’t so crappy. And so what if they are? You don’t have to share your crappy words with anyone. 😉

    Milli also has a great post (somewhere) about berating your muse. Hopefully she will pop in and find that real quick. I’ve used that one several times.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and fears. You’re now one step closer to breaking free of them. 🙂


  3. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    July 15, 2011 | 8:47 AM
    • Jenn M
      July 15, 2011 | 6:45 PM

      Thank you for your comment and the link, Patti! I’ll take a look at the link just as soon as I reply to everyone here. Actually, I’ll open it in a new tab so that I don’t forget!

      I think your idea of sitting down planning to write crappy words is great! Maybe if I knew I was going to write crappy words, I wouldn’t be so afraid of the outcome! Haha!

      Mahalo (Thank you) for all your encouragement!


  4. CurtissAnn
    July 15, 2011 | 8:48 AM

    I enjoyed your post–reminded me of my own struggles, and the truth that we must write for ourselves. I leave you with a quote that has helped me, a grandmother now helping to raise grandchildren:
    “I’d known enough flush times and lean ones to understand that money came and went. And that one day I’d also lose my looks, my seemingly boundless energy and maybe the ability to catch the eye of an attractive man and the audacity to Rollerblade. My name would be forgotten. So would bad reviews, and good ones. But loving a child is something that lasts. Long after all the rest is gone, that’s what endures.” ~Joyce Maynard.

    • Jenn M
      July 15, 2011 | 6:47 PM


      That is a beautiful quote! I love it! Thank you for sharing it with me (and us all)!

      A hui hou (Until we meet again),


  5. Tricia
    Twitter: Tricia_Sutton
    July 15, 2011 | 12:05 PM

    Lovely baby. Cats will forgive eventually. Usually after Baby loses interest in pulling their tales.

    If writing is important to you, I’d suggest baby steps (pun intended). Instead of a word count goal, make yourself commit to fifteen minutes a day for writing. even if it means staring out the window while your fingers are poised on the keyboard.

    I remember the baby years. It’s eleven years later and now I’m more tired than I was then. Don’t wait for age to slow you down, take any opportunities you have.

    • Jenn M
      July 15, 2011 | 6:52 PM


      If you take a look at my reply to Julia above, you’ll laugh! It seems your reply came across to my brain telepathically! I am going to use that app I downloaded for my iPad to try to dedicate some time each day to writing!

      Thank you for your encouragement!

      Malama pono (take care),


  6. Fear of Writing
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    July 15, 2011 | 12:51 PM

    Jenn, this is such a core issue for many writers. We so long for an audience for our words, and yet we’re terrified of not being good enough.

    I think that’s probably the source of most fear of writing. Because if we were only writing for ourselves (at least during the first draft) it probably wouldn’t occur to us to have that fear. Just as we wouldn’t be afraid to do other things for ourselves, such as take a shower for pleasure and cleansing or eat because we’re hungry. Crazy stuff. Anyway, you were only alone with it as long as you kept it inside your head, and now look! You have friends to share it with. Thanks for your courage in taking that step. 🙂

    Hugs from ~ Milli

    • Jenn M
      July 15, 2011 | 6:55 PM

      As always, Milli, thank you! Your support, encouragement, and belief in me have been absolutely wonderful! And you make a great point about writing for ourselves. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

      All my love,

  7. Karina Quinn
    July 21, 2011 | 11:09 PM

    Hey Jenn,

    thanks for your post. I have a seven month old and a two and a half year old and can relate. I’ve given up waiting for space and time to write, and now just fit it in wherever I can, even just for five minutes. I thought you might like a post of mine which is about just that. http://karinaquinn.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/fighting-to-write/

    Karina 🙂

  8. Jenn M
    July 22, 2011 | 11:48 AM

    Thanks Karina!

    Your post was wonderful! I’ll have to give writing in snippets a try too, since that’s the only real time I have!

    Good luck with the PhD!


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