My Writing Week
A Day For Maintenance
Well, it’s Monday. My first Monday since mostly completing the website theme. Officially my first Monday of getting back to real writing. There are some things I need to figure out, those things to be planned today, actually. I thought since I wrote that big thing yesterday about what I do/did to stay on track for writing and running this business, it would be a good time to actually, you know, share a bit of it. And then do it.
The nice thing about doing a little blog about getting back into writing is that it has me writing right after getting up and having breakfast. It has me thinking about writing even if I’m not chapters into writing a novel. It reminds me that writing is easy, just so long as I get out of my own way.
A big part of starting to write again is this struggle of choosing where to actually start. There are a lot of stories waiting to be updated, and some still require a lot of reference notes and reading to even remotely get to that place. And those big stories, they’re valuable. Valuable income wise, but also valuable sentimentally wise. Aka, I care about them too much to fuck them up, and there’s a danger in that kind of thinking. But for now, I’m going to find the gentle path and fuck up a different story first XD, just to get used to these doubts and insecurities so I can push them away for the bigger stories.
A Grand Experiment
Getting back to writing is a grand experiment in a lot of ways as I push my brain to be more than its limits currently are. And I know it could reach that place once, but after the months of my hyper-sensitized trigeminal nerve screaming at me and my pituitary unable to demand the required cortisol, my brain changed. So I’m building the support structure I think I need before starting, hoping it will evolve to what I need once writing as my brain changes. And that’s kind of exciting.
I’m an adventurer of thought, if not anything else. I love to see what the human mind can do. As much as teachers had claimed the calculator would make us lazy, it made me push to be more efficient to understand how I needed to think, and then use the calculator to support and bring accuracy to the problem solving I was doing with math. Creating tools to support basic human deficits is damn exciting because it allows us to be more. But only if we, as individuals want to grow instead of stagnate.
Planning A Week At A Time Starting With Rest
Every Monday is my “maintenance” day. It’s the first day of my official work week after a weekend focusing on family time, household errands, and personal hobbies.
Giving myself the weekend was something new for me to make sure my entire life wasn’t about work, but also required because of the unavoidable distraction my loved ones pose. Oh, I fought it for as long as I could. Only to realize I was perpetuating some self destructive ableism on myself by failing to rationalize rest. I do that; I will logic self destructive behavior and call it productive, and I know I’m not unique in that department. We’re all going to drop dead one day, and no, I don’t want to have prioritized work over living. I’m not apologizing for that.
Taking the weekends was to help my mindset, to accept that I was going to be distracted, and that instead of feeling frustrated with it, it was a sign I shouldn’t be working during that time anyways. Because I would work all the time. Once my brain gets into the ruts of a behavior, it stays there. It found the shape, the pattern of thought to work forever, and I can be a total grumpy fuck if not careful. Weekends are set aside to ensure that I’m a decent human being who rests, who spends quality time with family, and has other shit going on than staring at a screen all day.
It also means it’s a time that I’m not putting all the household stuff first, just finding a way to fill the rest time with a different work. That’s for Monday.
Maintenance Mondays exist to get me back into the mindset of doing after the weekends of playing. I deal with the emails that weren’t required to be dealt with immediately while running the laundry. I figure out medical shit and appointments, bills, important household stuff that has to be addressed. I tidy up the kitchen and bedroom/office. I plan and make meals for the week, or make sure I’ve got easy make options so I’m not starving my brain during work hours. I plan my week of writing, the goals I want to hit, the time I’m willing to spend (because I always go over, not under, and time is everything.) I then plan my allergy shots and errands around that time frame.
This week I have to plan more website updates alongside writing. Because of the eye situation, I have to figure out just how much screen time is going to result in a migraine and plan around that. Using Word is hurting my eyes, and Word is how I make those PDFs. I was able to get Scrivener to a beautiful layout for writing, nice soothing colors and perfect font size. It doesn’t hurt as much, and I wish I could get Word to the same place, but it’s time. It’s a trade-off of pain where to invest in solving a problem while it causes a problem could steal away days of my ability to write. So that is my big thing to plan this week.
Defend The Routine
Because Monday is the day I manage my life and business, and plan the week, it’s also the day I have to guard as fiercely as possible. It sets me up for the week, and if some random doctor’s appointment or someone home sick interrupts this day, I will either push it to Tuesday, or the worst case scenario is I lose the week, lose the rhythm, the thread, and wing it hoping the energy I spend actually leads to something productive. Never good with ADHD.
The biggest importance of Maintenance Monday is that it acknowledges that working from home is a fucking problem that has a million distractions that need to be addressed before work can get done. I can’t have laundry waiting for me when I’m working; I’m going to do the laundry because when I’m home, my priorities are with my immediate space. I can’t have a messy room because visual disorder hurts my eyes and no, I can’t afford an office. Walking into the kitchen to make a quick meal before getting back to writing can mean being completely interrupted by cleaning a messy kitchen and then forgetting what I was doing, losing the thought pattern of writing.
Just like with human distractions, where I have no ability to compromise once they’re in my space, it’s the same with disorganization and mess. I won’t win. My focus will go to the immediate problem that needs solving so that I’m then allowed to get back to work — and know, I don’t want to work. Not really. So every distraction from work means the very real possibility of not working. On Monday I solve those biggest issues, and every evening before bed I will do a quick tidy up to solve them again (because I live with slobs and cats). Anything less is setting myself up for failure.
A Day For Ongoing Projects
Mondays are also the day I get to put some time into the big organization projects that need doing, but are dangerous to touch on a work day. Because if I get in the habit of trying to tackle the intense clutterfuck thing that happened after 10 years of being ill, moving, and two different episodes of mold taking over this place, suddenly my week could be about doing that. Because it IS important. And my brain prioritizes my immediate space instinctively because, hey, years of allergies has turned this into trauma. I have to not trigger that instinct.
I have a lot of big projects waiting. The one I’m doing today is getting the rest of the holiday decorations taken down. I was holding off, hoping that we could do it as a family, but yeah, it never happened. I put them up alone as well, because I can self motivate and others can’t. I suppose at the heart of it, because I care and they don’t. We have a garage full of things that were supposed to be taken to goodwill when we first moved in here, but it never happened. A basement full of moldy storage that was supposed to be dumped when the black mold hit the house, and it sat there when the white mold hit, and is still there.
Being sick has been difficult when I’m the only one who cleans. Running a business when an entire dirty house has been dumped into my lap as people walk in and out throwing their shit down anywhere they want in shared spaces and thinking they’re not responsible… it’s impossible, really. I don’t get to leave the house to work like other people do. The eye sight issue has made that pretty impossible, and my work environment outside of my clean space is far from ideal. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t get to matter. What I prioritize is my choice, and I’m not obligated to solve other people to be allowed to live my life.
I solved my room before getting myself back into the routine of writing. I painted, got fresh storage in here, and decluttered. The important thing was to have visual balance, soothing colors, and lighting that wouldn’t contribute to eye strain. I fostered a space to love, to feel calm in so that when I go to create, it’s easy and familiar. Any project can be swiftly boxed up and tucked out of space to make room for writing or to give me a distraction free view. I don’t have to worry about cats knocking things down when there’s nothing to knock over.
If I had decided not to do it all in one go, Mondays would have been the day to work on it, doing a piece at a time. Monday lets me take care of some of these big things a bit without turning it into a daily work day thing. My work week is for the 4 days that follow Monday.
A Four Day Writing Week
I write 4 days a week. I work a 5 day week. Do I still find myself working on the weekends? Sure. I’m only mortal (for someone who keeps saying work sucks, it’s really hard to pull me away.) But these 4 days are the days I count. The days that matter. The days I set aside to do the work with writing sprints and editing sprints (oh yes, you read that right. Editing sprints, because I have no fucks left to give.) 2 of these days also require the huge distraction of leaving the house to interact with beings who are not cats long enough to get my allergy shots.
Leaving the house for anything is about the biggest distraction I can think of from doing work (even worse than having people in the house cuz sometimes they’re actually quiet), so this is no small feat.
The Greatest Distraction Of All: Leaving The Planet
Leaving the space of work is like leaving the world behind. I am defined by my environment. I don’t know why; I could romanticize it or what not, but it’s the reality I deal with. It’s great when I need to escape a mood, but it has the same effect when it comes to losing the brain shape I need to focus on work.
I become an artist outside the house, falling in love with the landscape, or the go getter who is getting errands done, or the drop in who randomly says hi to their partner at work (because being home alone sucks.) And it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Being spontaneous and fun shouldn’t ruin an entire day of work. But it does for me.
My brain takes a certain amount of energy and time to twist into the right shape (this is a metaphor, peeps, just saying. My alien traits have not evolved this far, thank you). I need structure, and I need consistency, because being spontaneous doesn’t mean spontaneously writing 5000 words on a different story. It means deciding to paint my ceiling, or rearrange the pantry, or clean out the garage and sort what’s going to goodwill.
There is so much waiting to get done, and the more my physical health and energy return, the more this body of mine wants to fuck off and do all the things, all at once, to an amazingly belligerent degree when external resistance is felt. I get angry when something hurts or I feel tired — how dare anything hold me back after years of chronic fatigue and adrenal insufficiency! XD And that anger is also a wonderful excuse to keep me from getting my work done.
Self Motivation Has To Be From The Self
Anger is great for ADHD when you don’t have motivation. Unfortunately, it can be hard to direct. I’ve been feeling a lot of anger in regards to the anti-trans bullshit happening lately. The normalization of it. The consumer market exploiting it. I’ve been fucking pissed, and I’ve used that to show up every day and remind people I’m still here. That I’m not letting them push me out of my life just because they’re that fucking selfish they want transpeople to disappear because we don’t fit their concept of what’s allowed to exist. Fuck that.
I don’t recommend having your motivation be in defiance of an external factor, not really. Because you don’t get to control that. You can start relying on getting great reviews or feedback or even anger — I have found some amazing inspiration from some rather outraged reviews. XD But when it’s silent and it’s just you and your thoughts, you have to be ready to self motivate. Every time.
I think this is one of the hardest things for self published writers to really understand. That when they put a work out into the world and no one says a word back, this is going to define them. What their brain generates in the silence is going to decide if they keep pushing forward, or if they give up. That what their brain generates can change at any damn moment so that if they were being their own cheerleader, suddenly they can be their worst enemy and not be prepared for it.
It sucks. It’s absolutely normal and it sucks.
We are our greatest enemy. The brain is the most dangerous weapon, sharp teeth once tearing into thought now turned inward, tearing into the ego, the dreams, the motivation and leaving everything bloody. We’ve evolved to feel this as social beings. Shame is part of our biological makeup, but just like stress gets triggered from nonsensical things in the modern world, so does shame.
Do You Really Know Yourself?
There is nothing domesticated about the human psyche. If you think you have trained yours to be gentle and loving, that you will never be tested, it’ll be a lot harder to push back when those biological factors activate and turn on you.
Because it will. Vulnerability is in all of us, and from that vulnerability springs our greatest warriors. Warriors who turn on ourselves to logic out of the pain — to just stop doing the things that bring the vulnerability, like putting yourself and your work out there. Your greatest lessons will be learned when the brain comes in to fill in the silence when you were expecting social validation. In the same way I have a day to plan on how to keep my shit together through the week, you need a plan for how to keep it together during those moments. I have one.
If you’re doing this, if you’re real about this, you will be seeking those moments. You will be seeking to grow as you seek that pain and tell it to fuck off. But you have to be honest with yourself that the vulnerability is there. That the pain hurts. That you have to feel it to deal with it and overcome it. Like any muscle, one can get stronger dealing with this stuff, but it’s going to be the worst pain in the beginning every damn time, and there isn’t a shortcut.
Writing isn’t hard. Showing up is where the majority of people fail. And you will find system after system telling people you just have to write 100 words a day, or sit down for an hour a day, or sacrifice a main character to the writing muses on a full moon, etc, etc. And yeah, maybe they’ll get a story out of it… but then what? What do they do with it? Does it ever even meet another set of eyeballs?
If you’re not showing up, there’s a reason not being addressed. Like my reason of working for a living sucks and I don’t like being home alone all day. And if you don’t acknowledge it and do the work to accept and deal with it, those reasons will always decide for you.
The will is an extension of the subconscious; if your subconscious has decided something, it’s decided. It will be your default until you deal with that shit. And every time you feel resistance to dealing with that shit, you’re being given a path of where to go: into the resistance. If you’re not seeking that pain and facing the things holding you back, you’re not really doing this.
There’s a reason so many entrepreneurs are sociopaths, and 1 in 5 business leaders are psychopaths. They don’t have to do this work to get to where they are. The psychological wiring just isn’t there to battle. Everyone else does, and it defines if they’re going to make it or not.
Congrats for not being a sociopath. Here’s some pain to guide you forward.