Lifestyle: Why I'm Protecting My Writing Time
Something that 2019 has taught me is that willing myself to write doesn't necessarily get me to write. I’ve found it’s easier said than done to tell myself when I get home, I’ll write. It’s putting something off, naming it something that is a commitment rather than a desire, and I’ve found it flummoxes me. I end up choosing to lie in front of the televising watching re-runs of ‘The Office USA’—which, there is nothing wrong with—than writing. Some would say, maybe ‘that’s just what you needed’, but in reality I know that is untrue.
My mental wellbeing relies on me actually writing.
It always has, I’ve found I have far more good days than bad when I write. It gets a lot of the emotion out I don’t feel I can properly show; it gives me focus and something to channel my need for control, and it makes me a much more tolerable partner to be around. It also makes me happy, which is the main reason why I write and is the main reason why I finished my first draft.
Writing the book made me happy, it gave me an outlet, and it helped me to forgive myself for ignoring my own mental health when I was juggling life.
When I had ‘Pea + Rose’—the collective name I’ve decided to refer to the book as, not sure if this will be the title or not—it gave me a project, a purpose, and so I didn’t need to tell myself to write, I just did. I made time, I ignored other plans to sit down and write—not to an unhealthy standard. But since finishing, and giving myself a ‘break’ away from it, I’ve become disengaged with a passion that I love, and now am finding a struggle to return to. The guilt of not writing, and the guilt of writing whilst I could be doing something else weighs on my shoulders more than it doesn’t, and it begins to give a bad taste to something I love. Which, I’m at fault for. I didn’t protect my time, I didn’t protect my passion. And, it’s easier said than done.
My husband, for example, used to go to the gym in the evenings. That was his protected time and watching him struggle as he changed shifts and his protected time was swallowed up, has made me see how we are two people who just need to block time. It doesn’t work for everyone, and I’m not saying that at all, but for us, I think it does. We work better to a plan, a routine.
It also means we don’t ‘interfere’ with one another’s blocked time, make time for our own relationship whilst also doing what we love, and at the end of the day, makes us both who we are. He loves the rush of working out, and I love the rush of creating something beautiful. I mean, would I love to work out and get fitter, yes. But for me, I don’t get the same rush of endorphins or feel I’ve accomplished anything from going because my knee and an old injury prevents me from giving my all.
So, to do this I’ve done a few things:
1. I’ve highlighted protected time
In my diary, I’ve chosen some evenings to have ‘protected writing time’. I’ve done this on two out of five (not including weekends) because it gives me time to complete some of my other projects and nights off. I’ve also worked this around my husband’s work shift/protected commitments, so we aren’t having zero nights together in the week. This means I’ll feel happier knowing I’ve committed to those times, and he will too because he’ll have done what makes him happy.
2. I’ve compiled a word count sheet
This isn’t brand new or inspiring, but it helps me. Knowing I have something to aim for keeps me on track. It also means that I have something to work towards which will motivate me. There is a link to this here if it interests you [GoogleSheet]
3. Explained my plan to my nearest and dearest
Making sure you stay on track isn’t always down to planning and organisation, it’s also meaning there is no temptation. Knowing my parents know those nights are off-limits—unless its a special occasion—and my husband, means I should be able to keep on track. For them, knowing it’s for my mental wellbeing reaffirms to them I’m taking care of myself, and when I’m not meeting those commitments, can be used a guide stick for when I’m not doing okay.
4. Creating a safe space and having the right tools
Everyone has a safe space, a preferred location to write or be creative, and mine fluctuates. Sometimes I love sitting in my living room, on the floor surrounded by cushions, sometimes it’s at a desk, and others it's on my bed. Making sure that those spaces are set up for me is helpful, it means I can’t use it as an excuse, so doing a little something extra on those days (making sure all I need is available to carry to whichever one I choose) is helpful. I bought this plastic wallet from Paperchase and the diary I use is from CGD London.
5. Having a back-up
Obviously, I can’t plan for the really bad days, and I know that. But as a gift to myself this Christmas, I’ve purchased a lettering book and a poem a daybook (recommended by my friend ??). If I really don’t feel like writing, I want to use the protected time to do something for me—that isn’t showering or hydrating myself. Whilst those things are important, the plan of having an hour aside is for me to be creative, for me to get on the straight and narrow of my inner peace.
This could all go out the window at the end of January, but this is a commitment I’m going to make. Like some eat better in January, some attempt Vegan-ary, this is my Writin-ary where I’ll get back to what matters to me, what makes me smile. Because, even the sunniest days have clouds, and storms don’t ever last that long.
Let's make 2020 the best year, and we can only do that by making sure we look after ourselves.