A couple of days ago I decided to have a day off from my usual job (I mark papers and tutor kids for an online school, so unsurprisingly we’ve been pretty busy during the Coronavirus lockdown!) and spend all of my usual work time writing.
I managed 900 words.
By the end of the day I was fuming at myself, gutted and disappointed that I’d ‘wasted’ all day by not being productive, not being able to create. I can write 2k in an hour, easily, but today? Nothing. I just couldn’t get the motivation to write at all.
Part of it is the fact that I know I can’t get a good run at it. I can’t immerse myself in the story and lose track of time because my kids are around and will come and find me every half hour or so to tell me about their wobbly tooth, or ask me a maths question, or just see if I want to read the last sentence they’ve written. I don’t want to bury myself so deep in a story that I’m a grumpy git when they drag me out of it!
But to be honest, a lot of the problem is anxiety, and the best illustration of that is how much manic crafting I’ve been doing! I can’t sit with my hands still for any length of time, but I’m too anxious and my thoughts too scattered for writing, so I make blankets and cardis and bags, and I count, and count, and count. If I’m counting I’m not worrying.
And I’m trying to convince myself that that’s OK. The world is a terrifying place sometimes, doesn’t mean I’ll never be able to write again! I just have to change it up a bit.
Sometimes that’s going to mean making all the Christmas presents early. Hey! You never know! I might then be able to write loads in December.
The other thing I’m doing is loads of planning. I can’t write write, but I can still daydream about a story, and writing notes about the different scenes I’d like to put into one novel or another is something that I can do, for some reason. It’s also something I can do with my kids around, and actually they’re pretty good at helping! For example, they came up with a lot of the magic obstacles that Ruby and Aggie have to go through to rescue their children in Changeling (those kids have dark, dark minds…) and they’re also delighted by the idea that I’m planning out a story with a Merman and a human man falling in love.
Sometimes the world changes around you, and it makes it hard to do things the way you usually would. In those situations, you have to change too. I’m starting to learn that (again…) and I’m trying to be kinder to myself. Planning is usually a part of writing that I dislike, but right now it’s something I can actually do, so at least I feel like I’ve achieved something. And psychologically? That’s hugely important right now!
What do you guys do to work around changes in your life? If you can’t work as usual, how do you roll with the punches and still keep productive?
And remember, it is OK to not be productive all the time! This is a fact I will one day learn myself, but I hope you’ll take this as explicit permission to CHILL OUT sometimes! Your mind needs to hibernate. You need to look after yourself, and sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself (and your art/writing/crafting/whatever) is to stop doing it for a while. Peace!
Lyn’s blog can be found here.