Monday 21 October 2019

Days Off That Matter - The Creative Process


This is a topic that I've been putting off for a while. I have talked about it before, (piece found here) but it felt like a good time to bring it back. As you all know, one of my yearly goals for 2019 was to take at least one day off completely every month. It's something I've always struggled with doing, and something that I still do struggle with. I recently did a tag on my Authortube channel about struggles while writing, and this sparked the idea to do a blog post too. (Video found here.)

At the beginning of 2019, I was in the throes of a flare from my chronic conditions and also really struggling to get a good nights sleep. It started at the tail end of 2018, which was one of the reasons I made that goal, and have continued to make it throughout my bi-monthly goals on Youtube. I was also severely burned out. I've worked myself hard over 2018, and I was struggling to keep going, and to keep on top of what I saw as my must-do things.

Things like writing over 50K every month and doing all the things I had set out in my monthly goals which are hosted on a private blog. I felt like I had to be doing everything to be considered valid both as a writer, an author and as a person. I know a lot of that is tied up in the ableist belief that productivity determines your worth. I'm disabled and have been for the majority of my life. I'm a full-time wheelchair user and my conditions do have an impact on my life. I try to work with them rather than against them, but that doesn't always work out. Hence the days off.

I told myself that just one day a month wasn't the end of the world, and it hasn't been. In fact it's really helped me get my head on straight and led to other days off. I never count my day of Mepo as a day off because it's a stressful day and I usually feel pretty crappy afterwards, so it can't really be a rest day. My days off are days when I don't have to do anything writing related, whether that's writing itself or doing blogs or vlogs or anything like that. And they matter to me, because they are one of the ways I make sure that I don't get burned out again.

I've talked before about ways to relax, but one thing I've always really found hard is turning my writing brain off. I read a whole ton and that's something that's always been a way for me to unwind and just do nothing but get lost in the pages. But when I was trying to refill my creative well, and come back from being burned out, I realised that a lot of the time, I'm reading books as a way to help other authors, and technically, that's also work. So now I have a set list of books to read, the ones that are purely for fun, and the ones that are for when I'm not feeling too drained by writing.

Because days off, and time off, it matters, and it counts. You're still being productive because you're allowing yourself time and space to breathe. There's nothing that will stifle you more than the pressure and overwhelming feeling of there never being any time to do anything else but work on writing. I know there are some writers and successful authors who work all the hours they can, and that's great since it works for them. I am not them. It took me a long time to be okay with that, and I'm basically writing this post to remind you that everyone is carrying their own load. What I achieve, what anyone else achieves in a specific amount of time doesn't need to be what you achieve.

I've always said this since it was pointed out to me and I'm gonna say it again: it takes as long as it takes, and that's okay.

Keep writing, but don't forget to rest, you are important, and for your story to go anywhere, you have to take care of yourself. Have the days off, enjoy them, do whatever you want with them, and come back to writing later refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list.

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