Taking Time Off

The UK has had some much-needed sunshine and we’ve had a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend, which makes me feel more optimistic, especially as the Covid restrictions are lifting. I’m praying that we keep moving in the right direction.

If things had gone to plan, I would have been on holiday in Cornwall. (Things didn’t go to plan – see ‘Dealing with Disappointment’!) Instead, I’m on holiday at home.

I’m not great at relaxing. I have too many thoughts and plans whizzing around my head, which makes it difficult to switch off. My jobs are basically the same as my hobbies! I don’t take that for granted; it’s a wonderful thing and I’m grateful, but makes it hard to separate ‘work’ from ‘leisure’.

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I Need Accountability: Virtual Offices

I love being self-employed and organising my own schedule, but early in January I had decision fatigue. I struggled to decide when to read, write, edit, do housework, do admin etc. I often ended up in ‘freeze mode’. On a particularly bad afternoon, when I was tempted to procrastinate for the rest of the day, I said, ‘Mum, please tell me what to do – jobs you want done, or things on my list here. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.’

I loved it; as did she, naturally! It would lose its appeal very quickly, no doubt – for me anyway – but it was a useful exercise that triggered some realisations.

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A Day in the Life #1: Workday

Monday 22.2.21

I thought it would be fun to record a day-in-the-life for anyone who’s as nosy about people’s routines as I am! I’m a creature of habit, which is useful for self-employment and working from home, although I’m happy to switch things around whenever necessary. I try to work intensively and then switch off completely; drifting between the two makes me tired and anxious. Every day is different and is mainly determined by my energy levels/health – this one’s slightly better than average, as Mondays often are, and writing this post kept me accountable. I wasn’t quite as productive during the rest of the week.

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8:00 Normal morning routine: Bathroom, medication/water, coffee, Italian on Duolingo, breathing exercise on Headspace, Bible reading, and other reading (Fast Focus by Damon Zahariades).

8:40 Dressed, fifty deadlifts with my 16kg kettlebell (daily minimum to get me moving), brushed teeth, washed face, and skincare.

9:00 Admin (AKA getting organised and trying to remember what on earth I’m meant to be doing today!). Answered a few texts. Messaged my friend, which I do every Monday to remind her to be sociable, and vice versa…Covid hasn’t helped, but hey, we’re doing our best.

9:30 Got on video chat with my wonderful writer/editor friend, which we now do most weekdays – will write a blog post about this soon. After a few minutes of lively writerly discussion, we both got to work in our ‘virtual office’. I spent nearly two hours working on a third edit of someone’s short story collection, with occasional pauses to stretch my legs or drink water.

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Writing Update

22.2.20 Saturday

I have many writing projects on the go. There are several exciting things to prepare for over the next couple of months. Watch this space.

I’m in an awkward phase where there’s loads to do but many of the tasks are equally important…and none of the deadlines are imminent. It’s all going to catch up with me at around the same time! I need be productive now. As Mum says when my head’s spinning in a million directions, ‘Do something.’

Sometimes I’m creatively paralysed and do nothing at all, except the ‘necessary’, such as earning money, showering occasionally and, you know, washing dishes and stuff.

It’s harder when deadlines are Continue reading

Staring into Space

Monday 17.2.20

I’m tired today.

We all get busy and stressed – it’s difficult to avoid – but personally, I’m inclined to make myself even busier than I need to be. I sometimes forget that down-time is as important, if not more important, as ‘getting things done’. Without down-time, we can’t function properly. We end up in a spiral of fatigue and then…well…guilt from not ‘getting things done’.

I’m learning that it’s not a moral duty to Continue reading

I’m Done with Academics

Wednesday 27.3.19

My fellow students have started to discuss the Creative Writing PhD. I won’t be signing up for it after the MA. There are things that could make me change my mind, but this is how I feel at the moment.

I’ve realised in the past couple of years that I’m not as academic as I used to think. I enjoyed academia at a lower level and could achieve good grades. Now, it makes me feel as if I’m playing a game, working out the rules and seeing how far I can stray from them. There’s something about it that goes against Continue reading

I Can’t Read Late at Night Anymore

One of my favourite hobbies as a child has been spoilt by becoming a writer: I can no longer read in bed before I fall asleep.

I doubt I’m the only one who used to snuggle up in their duvet, say goodnight to their parents, and have an illegal date with a torch and one of Enid Blyton’s creations. I read obsessively. I admit, my range was limited, because I loved to reread my favourite books. Still, it was wonderful.

I almost feel guilty that I can’t do it anymore. Have I broken some writerly rule by admitting this? What has changed? Continue reading

Opposite Statements Can Be Equally True

I was standing in the community centre kitchen on Sunday morning. There were already five people squeezed into the small space; I pressed myself into the alcove by the door, keeping an eye out for whether my help was required.

Two proverbs came to mind:

‘Many hands make light work.’

‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’

I smiled as I considered the apparent contradictions between these statements. Continue reading

The Summer Blues

I could never handle the summer, or the school holidays in general, particularly in my teen years. The alluring break from work is dangled in front of you – six weeks that you look forward to for most of the year, during which there are fewer things that you must do. Mum used to smirk when I said the words, ‘I can’t wait for summer.’ She knew… Continue reading

I Couldn’t Prioritise My Degree

Priorities are complicated. I promised myself that I would work as hard as I could in the final year of my degree, because I wanted to know that I had done my best to get the desired result. As so often happens in life, it wasn’t that simple.

It’s not about what you’re prepared to do; it’s about what you’re prepared to give up and what you’re prepared to become. I was prepared to work hard when I was tired, to spend Saturdays chained to my desk, and certainly to bury myself in revision at the end. But that’s all.

There were things I was not prepared to do for the sake of educational status: Continue reading