Writing Peaks and Troughs

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. 

GraphI 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.

 

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6 responses to “Writing Peaks and Troughs

  1. Hey, Cat,
    I’m sorry to hear that you feel you are in the trough of disillusionment stage but I do know how that feels 😦 I think you’re right to give yourself some downtime, of course. We all rush around working and living our lives and if you then add writing on top of that, something will have to give sooner or later. The problem is that we set ourselves goals and when we don’t meet them, we feel disillusioned and disappointed with ourselves. What we should be thinking is what did we achieve – today, this week, this month etc and maybe, we should set our sights a little lower and be pleased with what we achieve rather than disillusioned with what we didn’t. There will be plenty of time for competitions when you are happy with ‘That which is left is lost’ being ready for submissions so focus on getting it ready for now and feel a sense of achievement with every step you take along that road! Keep your chin up 🙂

    • Thanks doll, you are totally right. Focusing on what I HAVE achieved rather than not is a much better plan.
      Thanks for helping me keep my chin up. I’ll keep working towards getting that novel finished…
      Take Care, Cat x

  2. I think this is a great idea and it sounds like you could do with a break. I don’t necessarily feel burned out but there are days when I know I need to give it a rest. It can be hard though because my brain hardly ever switches off from writing. So I give myself a day where I can do anything I want. If I want to write, great. If I don’t, that’s also great. Today is a good day for that because Saturday Kitchen is on!

    Thanks for the post, I always like reading your blog and knowing I’m not the only one who struggles with things 🙂

    • Thanks for the moral support, and for the compliment. I’m glad my ramblings help!

      Having woken up this morning feeling pre-cold like I think a rest is definitely in order for me. We all need to be able to recognise our limits and know when to ease off so that we don’t let things fall by the wayside entirely.

      Hope you enjoyed Saturday Kitchen. Thanks for commenting.
      Take care, Cat x

  3. A day off gives you time to have a life! And a bit of distance from your writing is almost never a bad thing. It helps me return to a piece with fresh eyes and renewed vigor. As you wrote above, it’s all cyclical. Listening to the signs is what’s important.

    • That’s a good point about returning to your work with fresh eyes. I hadn’t considered that. But, it’s proven it’s worth today, as I’ve looked at a chapter of my novel and realised my focus is a little off, so I need to tweak it a bit more. Thanks for stopping by and reassuring me that rests are just as important for the writing process as other elements. Take care, Cat x

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