Since I took last week off to refill my creative well, I obviously have no work goals—other than the well refilling—to review. I fantasised that this would be a quick two-paragraph entry, but here’s the thing with giving yourself permission to chill, your mind miraculously clears. And, with that clearing, you learn some things about how a well-oiled machine of creativity can groan under the pressure of hyper-productivity and eventually seize up.
What I Learned When I Allowed Myself To Breathe
The things I learned seem so damned obvious now, but I couldn’t see the problems in the depths of non-stop work—the problems that I had created. 🙄
This first lesson is a biggie for me. Like most readers, I do the bulk of my reading in bed—my husband Jez has a post on our favourite e-reader. Usually, I have a wee bit of time during my work time to read what I call ‘work books’. These books cover everything from story structure to character archetypes, from psychology to neurology, from syntax to euphonics, and so on. They’re not exactly light fare, but it’s an important part of a writer’s job.
I love reading these, sometimes dry, books. But reading them became a problem when I started to push myself even harder to keep getting ahead of my goals (I’m still a month ahead), to the point that the ‘work book’ time became extra work time. Which meant I had to find time elsewhere to catch up on that reading. That time could only be bedtime.
So, not only was I thinking about work for most of the day, I was then focused on it as I was going to sleep. After two months of this, it started to suck all the joy out of the craft of writing.
The Solution: Ring-fence half-an-hour each workday for workbook reading and note-taking.
The above problem caused this one: a lack of fiction reading. I’m a slow but determined reader and tend to go through three to six novels per month. When I’d realised that I’d been reading a lot of non-fic in bed, I checked my journal to see when I’d last read some fiction. It was almost three months ago! No wonder I was running on fumes creatively for the last load of weeks.
On Friday, I grabbed an action-adventure romance novella from a new-to-me author (Emmy Curtis), successfully destroying that dreary chain of fiction-less reading in a matter of a couple of nights.
The Obvious Solution: Fiction is my only bedtime reading—that will
possibly probably involve another massive Anne Stuart re-reading binge.
The last issue that adversely affected my creativity and will to write wasn’t a huge surprise. In fact, it was staring me in the face all day, every day. But, it wasn’t until Brian (a photography blogger friend) commented about how cluttered his desk would look if he were writing that I knew I had to do something.
Brian’s comment painted a picture that was spot on for how bad my workspace was. Though, his version sounded neater than my reality: yarn cakes and crochet gear that didn’t have homes.
The Solution: Clean it the fudge up.
On Sunday, I went on a cleaning spree, and I can’t get over how good it feels to be able to see the surface of my desk again. Not only does it look nice, but my mind is also no longer a cluttered landscape of post-its and index cards, and I can sense the creativity beginning to bubble up again. With that creativity bubbling up again, it’s time to look at:
This Week’s Goals
- Make changes and clean up Acts 1 and 2a of the index cards for Deniable Unit #1: Working the Asset (DU#1)
|Tuesday||Day off/blog post (the one you’re reading right now)|
|Friday||day off/work on craft site (braithwaitecrafts.com)|
There’s a common theme in the lessons I’ve learned this past week, and it’s all to do with mindset. By focusing so hard on work, missing out on fiction, and neglecting my workspace, I created a negative outlook. I made work a never-ending, dour chore by sucking all the fun out of my day. So, to share some positivity here’s a wee bit of robotic awesomeness to put a smile on your face. (Yes, I’m a wee bit daft for WORLD ORDER, and I don’t care who knows it. 🤩)
Do you think mindset makes a difference in your work? What puts you in a positive frame of mind?
Thanks for stopping by, and take care.