Willpower, Writing, and Book Budgets

I love books.  I used to have hundreds upon hundreds of books.  When I had to downsize into a 420 sq ft condo a few years ago, I was forced to drastically cut down my beloved collection or not have room for my bed and a crib.  Or a dresser, for that matter.  I butchered the number of books down to a respectable 175 or 200 to keep, blessed the rest, and sent them out into the world to (hopefully) enrich other people’s lives.  My book-buying days were placed on hold until I could move again into a larger space (still hasn’t happened).

Then last year, my mom gave me a Kindle for my birthday and solved my no-books-due-to-lack-of-space issue.  I’ll admit, I was on the anti-e-books side until that day.  For the record, I still love the feeling and smell of a paper book in my hands.  When I walk into a bookstore, I feel like I’m walking into a church; it is my sacred place.  I still buy myself regular books from time to time (and would probably buy more if a bookstore popped up in my small town) and I’m always adding to Maya’s growing collection, but I do love my portable library.  Where am I going with this?

Well, you see I think I have a problem with willpower when it comes to some things– like writing.  Or at least, I have lately.  I don’t know if it’s the extreme heat that zaps my drive and creativity or if I’m working on the wrong project right now, but I can’t seem to force my backside into my chair long enough to crank out some decent material.  My restlessness is driving me crazy.  So, I did what any normal book-loving person would do: I started looking for a book to read that might offer help with this issue.  I found one, too:  The Willpower Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal Ph.D.  The description is intriguing and it has thus far received excellent reviews, so that should do it for me, right?

Not exactly.

You see, I haven’t budgeted for this book.  I know that to some people that concept might sound absurd.  I mean, it’s only $12.99.  However, if you’re a single mom and the sole provider for your family, you need to budget or you will sink.  Kids are crazy expensive and so are the lawyers you (unfortunately) have to hire for legal matters pertaining to kids.  Plus, I promised my son a grand for a round-trip ticket to Spain for his graduation gift (he received his passport yesterday so now we can buy his ticket for his 90-day trip!) and I’m not dipping into that fund to buy a book.


If I bought the book, my financial life would not be ruined.  But little things like that can start a downhill slide.  Kind of like when you’re cutting back on sweets and such while trying to drop a few pounds.  If you’re like me, you can’t have any of it at all because it’s too great of a challenge to stop eating junk once you begin.  Just say no.  (Nancy Reagan’s slogan burned into my brain after all.)

I exercised my willpower by not buying the book about willpower.  I am awesome.

And then I turned around and bought three Walmart clearance item Ravensburger Play & Learn puzzles (Spell it Out; Ready, Set, Count; and Airplanes to Zebras) for Maya.  I rationalized that I was going to buy something like this for her anyway and all three cost a total of about fifteen bucks, which is super cheap.  Yeah…  I am an awesome… mom, but not so awesome on the budget aspect after all.  I don’t regret this impulse purchase, though.

(My toddler has ridiculously long legs, doesn’t she?  She looks like she’s four.)

So what did I learn from all of this?

I can exercise extreme willpower when it comes to buying items for myself.  I can say no.  I’ve done it for twenty years and will likely continue for another twenty.  I cannot always exercise willpower when I stumble across a great deal for educational items for my two year-old.  I am weak.  (Where’s your help now, Nancy?)

I can also devote my time to writing– when I want to write.  I need the willpower to plant my butt in the chair when I don’t want to write.  Especially when I don’t want to do it.  Maybe if I can understand the psychological reasons behind my (lack of) willpower, it will help me push forward.  Thus, the book could very well be beneficial to me.

Or maybe I should just be a brutal bitch with my inner weakling.

At any rate, I either need to work this out on my own pronto or work the book into my budget.

Does anyone else have this willpower issue?  Any suggestions on how to sit and write when you don’t seem to have the willpower to do it?

A side note: I attempted to be resourceful and I tried the library (even though I’m notorious for returning books late and would probably accrue late-charges equivalent to the price of the book) but the book was out on a waiting list a mile long.  Not available for Kindle check-out, either.  Blah.


10 thoughts on “Willpower, Writing, and Book Budgets

  1. I feel your lack of will power for buying things for my son too. I’ve needed/wanted a pair of running shoes so I dont roll my ankle but budgeting $115 into my monthy expenses is nuts. So I sit and wait until they go on sale. The things we sacrifice for our children is pretty amazing. Haha good luck with the writing. I have times when I can’t write either, actually just got over a 2 year “writing block”. I think it was more of me being lazy. May the power of writing come to you rapidly.


  2. I have no will power when it comes to my son. That’s why he has 10 dump trucks. And I have no will power when it comes to potato chips. That’s why I never buy potato chips because I will eat the entire bag and then the bag.


  3. My wife is the same way with our kids – she can’t resist splurging on them.
    I’m an ebook convert as well. I can’t do paper anymore. I too love the idea of being able to bite off some reading anytime, anywhere. If I’m in a pinch and don’t have my iPad, I can read on my phone. 🙂


    1. 🙂 I wish all parents would splurge on their kids. Not to turn our kids into spoiled brats, mind you, but in the sense of making our kids a priority. Shoes and diapers for the toddler before a case of beer, you know?


  4. “I exercised my willpower by not buying the book about willpower. I am awesome.” Love it!

    I felt so bad when you said you had to cut down your library (but understandable, of course). Every once in a while, I look at my books and mentally check off which ones would go if I had to move to a smaller place…I usually don’t get very far. I will be the old woman who is crushed by the piles of books she refused to get rid of.


    1. I instantly pictured a future episode of Hoarders.
      One of my friends talked about cutting down her collection and I advised against it. Find a way to keep them, I said. Incorporate them into your home somehow. Books are like old friends; you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
      Then again, when I sent my books off I asked people to let me know what they thought of the novels. Many of my friends & a few strangers loved them and passed them on to others to enjoy. My “old friends” are scattered everywhere now, making new friends. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s