Monday, 6 April 2020
Spoonie Writer: Working Within Your Limits
SPOONIE WRITER: WORKING WITHIN YOUR LIMITS
I've talked a lot about how to work within your limits as a spoonie, but I don't think it's something I've gone into too much depth about as a subject on its own. I've been a spoonie now for nearly twenty years, I've also been a writer for that amount of time, and published for over fourteen years. In that time I've written nearly thirty books, and have almost seventeen published through my label, Bug Books. I don't say that to make you think, wow she's doing so well, I must also do that much to be valid. Nope, that's not going to come from me, because it's something that I really struggle with, the idea that I have to be productive member of society otherwise I am a burden and invalid. It's a toxic mindset and one I'm still breaking out of.
So what am I here to tell you? I thought I would give you a few ways in which I've made working within my limits a priority in my working life. Just some quick background, beyond what's above. I was retired from the working world at nineteen, I was also told that I would never work a conventional job again because of the severity of my conditions. I am, by all accounts, a full time writer, purely by default, and it's something I've been doing for the majority of that time. I would go into how and why, but I feel like talking about what's wrong with me just makes me crabby, so I'll link here to a video on my Authortube channel that breaks it all down for you.
#1. REST IS NOT LAZY
One thing that I really struggled with is the idea that resting is time I could spend doing actual work. It took me a long time to work out, to get that toxic head space cleared, that resting is okay. That I am doing something, I'm letting my body heal so that I don't end up in a flare because I pushed myself too hard. Resting isn't time away from work, it's time to allow you to continue work.
#2. SELF-CARE TAKES MANY DIFFERENT FORMS
For a long time, I struggled with self-care, simply because the things I would see people suggesting weren't something I either enjoyed, or could even do. I can't just go out for a walk, I can't just pop over to the cinema and take time out. It's all got to be planned. I can't just take a trip away from home to get out of the house. I focused too much on what I couldn't do, and didn't really think about what I could. I love reading, I get through books on a regular basis. I beat my all time record last year with over 250 books read, and I'm aiming for 200 this year and am already ahead. My point is that resting, and self-care can be simple things. I can take time away from work by focusing on a book, or reaching out to a friend, or just curling up and having a nice nap for the sake of it. All of these are valid and they work well for the spoonie who can't quite manage a huge day out.
#3. PLAN YOUR TIME, BUT BE READY FOR SURPRISES
I've recently started using a planner as well as my sticky notes, and I like to plan my time extensively. Now that doesn't mean that you also have to go to that level, but if you do plan your time, leave room for things that might pop up and knock you off schedule. I have lazy days, days off, days when I'll be done by ten am, and days when I don't really have much to do. These are all days to allow me some breathing room in case things get a little stressful or I get hit with a flare, or a deadline that needs to be met. If you're gonna do a plan, make sure you have room to breathe.
#4. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
For the past few months I've been doing only twenty chapters a month when I know that I'm quite capable of twenty-four, even with the days off and such. It started as a way to make sure I could still do Hydrotherapy, but it became clear after NaNo 2019 that I was really struggling and needed to take time to have more down time. This became something that I struggled with a little, but actually, I prefer doing it this way than ending up burnt out, because that's where I was heading. When you threw in my health issues, it was clear that I was going down a road where I might end up really stuck, so knowing my limits means I can plan and adjust for times when that fatigue or pain is too much to work with.
#5. DO A LITTLE EACH DAY
Now this one is more for those who are having to hold down a full time job rather than a full time writer, or someone who has the ability to write when and how they choose. If you work a full time job and you're also a spoonie, hats off to you, because that is not easy! But if you're also wanting to make sure that you get some words in, set a time, a place, and just do a little each day. Don't push yourself to do more, and this goes back to knowing your limits, because if you push and push, you're gonna end up flaring out and that's just not going to help matters. It doesn't matter if it takes you years to finish, you're valid, and you're doing the best you can. It's times like these that I look to that saying my friend, Kim told me all those years ago: It takes as long as it takes, and that's okay!
So there we have it, the five things to keep in mind when planning your writing time as a spoonie. I know that there is a lot of talk about the hustle, about making sure that you put in all the hours you can, all the time, otherwise are you really trying hard enough? And to that I say, yeah I am, you are, you're doing the best you can with the cards you've been dealt. Hustle doesn't always work for non-spoonies, and that's not a bad thing. Just keep going and remember that you will get this done!
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