This blog space has been very quiet. I’d say I’m sorry, but after finishing law school and starting a job, I found myself with too much to do, too little time, and mounting levels of stress. Something had to give.
So I took a look. The job is necessity at the moment. My book is in (slow) progress. That left the social media and blogging. I made a choice.
And basically I’ve been managing those feelings that tell you that you just have to get it all done and that if you don’t then the rest of everything is basically worthless. I’ve read the blog posts about how important a social media presence is to a writing career. I worry I’m shooting myself in the foot by setting this space aside.
I’ve created more space to work on my book that I wouldn’t have if I were here. It’s going slower than I thought it was (n00b), which then made me fear I’ve been away from here too long. But I put one word in front of another, and one edit after another. It’s going. And at some point time will open up to more.
So this post, written offline during a flight from Budapest to Milan (I don’t write well on planes), is to say, “Hello, friends. I am still here. Thank you for your patience. Here’s a picture of lovely Budapest in the meantime.”
How do you handle an overstuffed schedule?
Writing and Work. This is a blogpost for those of us trying to do two careers and just starting out at both. This is to remind us that it is okay to be a beginner. This is to encourage us to experiment, both in those careers and in managing them. This is to say that taking a risk, no matter the outcome, is a worthy endeavor. Continue reading →
Time, time, time, see what’s become of me. Time is the ever-present non-renewable resource that I constantly struggle to manage. And time has been getting away from me lately in the face of the on-coming finals season, end of law school, and beginning of bar stress. My commitment to my writing, as measured in consistency and hours, definitely took a hit. And like we learn in physics: bodies at rest, stay at rest. In this blog post, let’s talk strategies and experiments to get that writing-body back to one in motion.
I don’t believe there is any one way to get back to that place your writer self remembers from last week, last month, last year, where finding time for writing was easy, and the writing itself was ready when you were. For me, it is always a matter of seeing what is going to work for me now that does not involve totally abandoning my WIP even though that is the thought itching at the base of my brain. (Look, Brain, it just needs work and some TLC and is *not* a POS, whatever you think right now. Back off.)
But this is about strategies. What have I been doing to get back into my writer flow?
- Forgive myself. I am REALLY good at beating myself up for not living up to my own (often ridiculous) expectations of what I should be accomplishing all the time. Right now, I am taking note of these thoughts and not beating myself up about them like I usually do (double whammy!) and taking the time to talk myself through them in a postive light. What does this look like? Something along the lines of’ “Okay, so you haven’t been editing your WIP everyday and you are sort of scared of engaging with it. Okay. That is where you are. You have a lot on my plate right now, and you have been doing a read-through and making notes and edits. It is okay that it is not everyday. When you are not inspired, you can work, and that is what you are doing right now. Good for you.” Rinse, repeat until all the mental dirt is cleared until the next time.
- Work on something else. I am a person that needs multiple projects going at once. My problem is making sure it is not too many multiple projects. But I feel stuck if I have only one thing going on at a time. My brain needs distractions to work through things and make connections that would not have happened if I was focused in on a single WIP. So, I have some short stories brewing, some in editing, some in drafting. I am engaging with these, so that my WIP can have that break when I am on the verge of abandoning it. The fact that these other projects are in different stages also helps, because I can assess what kind of creation I need right now. Do I need to generate? Do I need to feel like I checked something off of my to do list? Do I need to read other works and interesting facts related to a story? All of these options are available to me in my Dropbox.
- Walk away (as in, walk). Physical activity is key to my creativity. When option 2 is not doing it for me, I put on my running or walking shoes and get moving. I know a lot of people have their best ideas in the shower; I have mine on a run or on a walk. I go by myself and let my mind wander. Even if I end up back at my apartment with no new insights or ideas or what-have-yous, I am clearer. Much like the self-care in option 1, letting go of conscious direction of my thoughts helps to clear out mental obstacles and stresses that block me from moving forward.
- Journal. This option is a relatively new one for me. Journal about the struggle. Journal about things that happened in your day. Journal the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual experiences of your day. My life feels incredibly limited at the moment, because law schools seems like all I ever do. Journaling gets me out of that mindset. My bike rides, lunches, walks, classes, everything all have individualized and specific relevance to my life and to my writing. I can write and write creatively without the pressure of creating something. The story is there; it needs words. And at the end, even if it does not jump start me back into my writing flow, I have a record of experience for future works.
- Schedule. Scheduling for me is not the “I write from 7 am until 9 am” kind. That limits me (kuddos if that works for you; I am totes jealous!). I schedule writing in more of a where does this go in my day kind of way. If I try to say “I will write before I go to bed,” I am not going to write (tired + only accountable to myself = excuses). Mornings work for me. I am not a morning person, but I am good at getting things done in the morning (because I hate everyone until I have been sufficiently caffeinated). I write after breakfast, before I go to school. It is not an exact time, but I can make it consistent so long as I keep it there. Once I start working on law school stuff, my brain switches over and writing is a struggle. In the morning, before law school, after breakfast. And if I miss a day to get some extra sleep, see option 1.
That’s the experiment right now. How do you approach your own loss of writer flow? What other kinds of approaches do you think are effective? Drop your thoughts in the comments, and let’s get a conversation going!
I had such plans for the month of January, and here we are in February and, let’s just say, I was moderately distracted by starting my last semester of law school. (The light at the end of the tunnel is the blinding, searing sun known as “The Bar”, but shhhh, let’s ignore that for now.)
The last semester of law school is one of checking things off and completing obligations and a general sort of sloughing off of responsibilities. For instance, I am almost done with my journal duties (cross your fingers for me that the author currently editing her article is making minor, stylistic changes only that will be easy for me to implement). I am in classes that I enjoy, which makes the reading so much easier, especially my Law & Lit class where I get to read fiction for law school (double win!). My time belongs more and more to me as the weeks go by.
But for January these final tasks and obligations have been sucking up all of my time that isn’t spent eating or sleeping. So… the blogging and Tweeting has been less than I would like (apologies). It was going to be great. I had great plans for reviews of Billy Budd and Beloved. I wanted to discuss editing and such, since that is what I need to do on by book.
All of this time suckage has functioned to keep me from working on the book. Also, that part of my brain that is somewhat terrified of editing it is totally colluding with law school, because it thinks it is going to destroy it once I really get started. I feel a little like a person that has never held a baby being handed one for the first time and the running mental commentary is OMG I’M GOING TO DROP IT! WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, GIVING THIS TO ME! So, I’ve been working on that mental block (tips from my readers on how you’ve handled this issue are always appreciated; drop them in the comments).
But there are things I can do starting now. My passion planner arrived, so I’m going to use this to organize myself. I am going to attempt not hitting snooze and giving myself back that hour of writing everyday before school. And I’m going to accept that this editing process is going to be slow. Slower probably than I would like. And if I don’t make my goal to get a draft to my beta readers before I dive into studying for finals and The Bar, then that is just going to be what happens.
I am bad at being balanced with my time, but I am working at it. Okay, February, let’s get started.