I have nearly-blogged a lot of times in the past. Two years ago, when I first played with the idea of writing ‘properly’, I created an author website and wrote one post… then found I couldn’t really think of anything much to write about and stopped. The website sat there getting fusty, and sad, and outdated. And, eventually, I took it down and told myself I would start again later.
So here I am, two years down the road with a fresh new blog, a renewed bout of enthusiasm and lots of ideas.
Why the hiatus? I hear you ask. Well, at the end of 2013, Mr. T and I moved in together. This was lovely but, very shortly afterwards, he had an epileptic seizure. Thankfully, he recovered just fine, but the whole thing was very scary and had the knock on effect of him losing his driving licence for 12 months. So, during term time, I had to get him to and from work every day, (he’s an English teacher). In addition to that, my beloved Grandmother was becoming increasingly unwell and I was trying to plan our wedding. Grandma passed away just a few weeks before the wedding, in the summer of 2014, and the rest of the year passed in a blur. So, it was a busy and emotional time.
I decided that 2015 would be a fresh start, and started out feeling extremely positive about the year to come. Then, out of nowhere, I was hit with The Flu. I mean the real, ‘can’t get out of bed or wash yourself, feel like the living dead,’ kind of flu. This happened the day before I was due back at work after the Christmas break and, me being me, I took a few days off then promptly forced myself to go back. My inability to listen to my body when it was screaming, “You need a rest, woman!” resulted in six months of chronic-fatigue type illness, lots of tests, talk of ME and fears about never being able to go back to work.
The reason I’m telling you this is because, recently, I purchased a journal/planner called Your Best Year which contains advice and techniques to help you realise your goals – and lots of space for making lists, which I love. Three things the author asks you to do are: think about the biggest challenge you faced in 2015, think about what stopped you achieving your goals, and consider what you are most proud of. My answer to all three questions is: overcoming my illness. My biggest challenge was, undoubtedly, staying positive and believing I would get better. The ‘brain fog’ that only those who have experienced this kind of exhaustion will understand was the one thing that prevented me from achieving my goal of writing again. And I am extremely proud that I have started 2016 physically and mentally stronger. I now know that it is not a weakness to take time out and rest when life is busy and stressful, and it is not a weakness to confide in those close to you when you are struggling. It’s also okay to let things slide for a while.
If you haven’t written for a while, don’t beat yourself up about it. When the time is right, you will. I’m not saying you won’t need discipline to keep it going – when you’re staring at that blank page and the incessantly blinking cursor at 2am, wondering where all the words in your brain have disappeared to, you’ll have to give yourself a kick up the butt to get through it. But, fundamentally, those of us who write do so because we enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, take a break and think about why you’re not enjoying it.
Personally, the last time I attempted to write a novel, and blog about writing a novel, my brain just wasn’t capable of handling the emotional and physical stress I was under as well as dedicating time to a writing career. BUT, now my brain is clearer I can see that writing relaxes me. It gives me time to ‘check-out’ of life and be somewhere else while I create characters and worlds that don’t really exist.
My next post will focus on how to overcome procrastination and make time for writing in your busy day – and why you shouldn’t feel guilty about it! But, in the meantime, be kind to yourself: give yourself a hug, make a nice cup of tea, and think about what your biggest achievement was in 2015, what stopped you achieving your goal, and what you can do differently this year.