I had to take a break last weekend. I didn’t want to. I had my ridiculously long ‘to do’ list and when I have a ‘to do’ list I have to do it all. But, this one was a bit too much… Trying to fit in work, family time, housework and writing has its limits. I put it down to lack of motivation to begin with and then I started to feel down because when I can’t do things I need to do it makes me down which then makes me stressed and tired and, well, I really can’t get anything done then anyway.
I had decided that I would do editing during the week and at the weekend I would work on a short story. I found a competition in Writing Magazine that made me go ‘yes!’ It was the flame of the spark of an idea I have had for a series of short stories for a while. But, that flame quickly died. Everything sounded so good in my head but when I tried to get it on paper it sizzled out. And I certainly wasn’t in the right frame of mind anyway. So, I sat in Caffe Nero, my notebook cast aside, flicking through Writing Magazine.
One piece of advice to myself. When you’re feeling down in the dumps about your writing and want to give up forever and ever because you don’t think you have what it takes, DO NOT look through a writing magazine. Or look at blogs with loads of writing advice (unless it’s because her posts always put a smile on my face). It makes you feel worse.
Well, I got home and my husband sighed and told me that I was trying to do too much, that I always try to do too much. So, for the first time ever, I actually listened to him.
I have been dreadful at prioritising lately which has affected my time management. And, seriously, I am a great time manager so for me this really sucks! I have been thinking that I can do it all because I’ve done it all before. When I was doing my degree I was working full time and pregnant/mother and I was fine. But I look back on it now and I wonder how I did it in the same way I look back on the time when James and I first met and I went to North Wales from North Norfolk (16 hours round trip by train) every single week. Now an hour on a train seems like a life time!
So, I decided that I am not going to work on any short stories (unless of course I suddenly have a great burst of imagination and writer’s frenzy). I will not force myself to do this. Most important is for me to concentrate on editing. Editing, blogging and reading. Editing after work, reading before work, blogging in any other free time (e.g. when James is away or when I have my time at the weekend – we each get to go to a café for an hour by ourselves on Saturday and Sunday). And if I get to a point with editing that makes me want to scream, then I stop. I have a break from it. Not just ten minutes but a day, two days, however long I need.
Another piece of advice. When you’re feeling down in the dumps about your writing and want to give up forever and ever because you don’t think you have what it takes, DO read a book. Get lost in a book. Preferably something ridiculously easy to read, or trashy and cheesy. Something you know you will enjoy and not want to put down, something you know will distract you completely from – what did you need distracting from again?
I did not look at my WIP all of Monday and Tuesday. I barely even went online. And I feel so much better. I have really enjoyed editing these past two days. I have been harsh but not too harsh. I have been able to read my novel with fresh eyes and cut what needs to be cut and spot inconsistencies that I did not notice before. No doubt I will do this all over again several times, but for now, I am happy!