I’ve decided that, each week, I’m going to take a day off from writing. While I work part-time and usually spend the rest of the week – including weekends – writing, it has been taking it’s toll, especially as my work-life has gotten rather busy of late. Everyone needs some downtime and although I don’t spend a full day writing (more likely a three-four hours) I do spend my day thinking about it and plan any activity around it. As a result, I often forget to participate in other enjoyable activities like reading for pleasure, watching movies and going out with friends. Or, perhaps more importantly given my condition of M.E., just resting.
Therefore I’m giving myself permission to take one day a week as pure rest and/or play. No guilt. No agenda. No expectations. Hopefully this will encourage me to be better focused on days I do plan to write and will also allow me the freedom to cut loose on occasion.
I think it’s important to understand we all go through peaks and troughs – interests, energy levels, time; all these things impact on how we feel and if we can focus on that which we want to achieve. Right now I’m in a trough, but I’ll make my way out of it and be furiously writing and plotting and editing at some point soon – forgetting that I ever struggled with any of it. That’s just how life is.
This has all been preceded by the accepted fact that I will fail to submit any pieces of writing for the upcoming submission deadlines on my calender. I haven’t given those competitions enough time or focus and I now won’t get them finished on time. It feels a little like a repeat of the Richard and Judy situation: where I had to force myself to admit I couldn’t complete the submission to a standard I was happy with, given the time I had left. But this time, I’m accepting the circumstances for what they are – not significant. There will be more competitions and other chances to submit and I can always work toward those, if I wish. It’s not a life or death situation. It’s just a couple of competition deadlines.
Perhaps part of it is that the pieces I had planned to submit just weren’t engaging enough for me at the moment to elicit my attention. Maybe they’re just not ready yet. I’ve also been more focused on That which is left is lost (NaNo #1) – perfecting my first chapter and trying to construct an accurate and interesting synopsis. When I’ve wanted to spend time writing, this is what I’ve wanted to concentrate on. And that’s perfectly fine with me; because right now I can accept that my brain is torn between my job and my hobby and that is another reason why I want to provide myself with some permissible downtime; to give my brain a rest!
Maybe in a month or two I’ll find I won’t need that time off – by then I might be at the height of another writing/energy peak. Either way, I can reassess then according to those circumstances. Today, in the right now, I can only react to what has already happened and what I think is best for me at this particular juncture. And for me that means allowing myself the time to rest and recuperate.
What about you? What are your coping strategies when you feel sluggish and find you aren’t as jazzed about your writing as you usually are? Do you allow yourself some time off – and if so, do you feel guilty for it?
Let me know in comments, or drop me a tweet.