Wednesday, 20 September 2017

How to focus on writing during personal life changes.

For me the year 2010 started off like any normal year would -: self- promises of making and sticking to all things healthy, having a good mindset and being optimistic, writing, more writing, editing, even more writing, aiming to finish my novel by year end,...and trying not to fantasize about physically torturing every incompetent person I meet…ok, maybe that last point is my vice only 😊.

BUT, by mid 2010 a field of unforeseen changes had spewed into my personal life which made it hard to focus on the things that I planned on achieving. Hence I labelled 2010 the year of changes. Until…

2013 came along and a whole series of unwanted and wanted changes occurred. Now I know changes are inevitable and we all experience them often. But the changes I’m highlighting are those good and bad changes that make the biggest impact and difference in your life, the ones that steer you down adventitious paths.

2013 became one of those years and by the end of it I christened that the year of change!

But now I need to erase that label and hand the title over to 2017. Why you ask? Because these are the changes in my life so far...

This year started off with a mutual decision that I no longer was going to be living alone. In March, my space was invaded by a wonderful man and I had to adjust to new conditions and rules that comes with living with your significant other.  Then, one of my best friends dropped the bombshell that they would be relocating to another country far, far away. Two months later said person was gone. (And unfortunately, distance triumphed over friendship and that close bond rapidly withered.)

At the same time came the news that my rented flat of seven years was going to be sold. This then led to the arduous task of looking for a new place to move to and four months later my man and I moved into our new beautiful flat. Which again took a whole lot of readjusting.
To top it off my amazing dad, whom I was so close to, recently passed away. He was such a fit, healthy 72-year-old so his sudden death was a piercing shock to us all. (I still haven’t overcome the shock.)

 In addition to the above, other changes happened -and..yep…2017 hasn’t freakn ended yet!

If, like me, you are one of those writers that has one or two or ten of those ‘year of changes’ how do you stay focused and write during that crazy period??

At first I found it difficult to stick to a consistent schedule of writing. I would write plenty for a week and then some shitty or beautiful change would happen. This ended up taking most of my time to sort out (for either days or weeks) and in between that I would write, if I was lucky, two sentences a day! And they were mostly awful sentences.  

Until I got all Jessica Jones and realised that I can’t avoid change and I will never stop writing so I had to fight! (Not literally of course, although that crossed my mind too.)

But I had to fight for giving myself space to write and making sure I wrote! I scheduled myself every hour from 5pm-6pm to write. That only worked for a week!

Because as much as routine is good at times especially for someone like me who loves routine, life cannot always be scheduled. Neither can writing. You can try and if it works, well then, my hats off to ya’.
But to other writers who work and study and have families in between, it’s hard when you must suddenly work late, or your child is sick and you have to sit for hours at the doctor while your kid vomits on you.  

What I found effective when change was happening was to… breathe. And never put too much pressure on yourself during a drastic change.

 If it’s a sad, stressful or time demanding change, then take the time out you need to deal with it! You have to. Thereafter come back to your writing, even if it means weeks later. I tried to balance the two and it was futile. It’s always best to write with a clear (clearer) head rather than write while worrying about the change or being exhausted, because then you won’t be focused and there’s not much writing you will be able to do.

If it’s a big change that’s not so demanding and gives you a few days in between to write, then use those days to write.
And the only way you'll be able to do that is to take a day off to relax. Maybe though you can only afford a few hours to relax. That’s fine. But the most imperative thing is to make some time to unwind and do something like visit the theater, dance to your favorite music (yes 80's music counts), go to the beach or eat chocolate and cheesecake while lying naked in bed watching Vampire Diaries (ok, again that’s my personal thing) but you get the picture. Even writing down your feelings and emotions in a journal might help you relax.

During any change in your life it’s always good to take a few hours at least to rest the brain and then come back to your writing! You will be able to pour out your emotions so much better if you’re able to get into ‘the zone’ and the only way to focus is to have a somewhat stress-free mind and that can come only after relaxing. (Also, not watching You-Tube while writing helps. *Insert my guilty face here*)

Always embrace the changes in the most positive way you can - whether it's a good, bad or scary change. Having a positive mindset helps in achieving career goals and improving your personal lifestyle.

Hopefully, your year is not as full of crazy changes as mine is, or it’s a heap of good crazy changes. Regardless, don’t forget to take a step back when you need to, breathe, take time off to relax and then tackle that writing and changes head on! Even if writing takes longer than planned (which happens often especially if you don’t have a deadline and there’s too many changes) but the main thing is you will be able to write better, sturdier, won’t lose your love for writing (and you won’t swear your cat and dog daily.)

For that I say - Happy changes! Happy writing!

P.S Who knows where my next adventure (change) will take me..

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