First up, I'm apologising. I know, I know. I'm late with my blog this month and I've missed my blogging spot for the past couple. This pains me, truly it does. Because I hate mucking up; I hate letting people down; and I hate not meeting my own high expectations. So much has been going on in my life since Christmas; family stuff, moving home, juggling multiple jobs. A lot of things I didn't account for when planning the first few months of 2016 last year. Luckily, I've been working with some extraordinarily patient people who have, not only allowed me to go over deadlines, but also offered me support. Which really, in my opinion, sums up the writing community. Kind and generous.
But, this blog, short as it might be, is really me telling you guys that it's impossible to do everything. Life gets in the way, and often in the most unexpected format. You can't plan everything to the dot; although you can try. I do. But there simply has to be some movement, some give. And those that might not allow any flexibility or patience with unexpected personal issues, well, you have to ask yourself if it's worth it. Other opportunities are always around the corner if you keep looking.
So, when times like these hit, here's what I do:
Prioritise. Don't try to do it all at once.
Seems obvious. But it's actually pretty difficult. You have to push work or writing further down the line. Family comes first. It does. Or at least it should for most. Unless you don't have any, then maybe friends. And if you don't have any of those, maybe go make some. Because it's during the tricky times that true friends are golden, and make you realise how lucky you are to have them. Mine have shone like jewels lately, and I couldn't be more grateful. Even new friends have stepped up and helped me out. If you ask nicely, they might just take a few things off your list too.
Once you've dealt with family, then care about you. Make sure you're healthy and happy, at least as happy as you can be depending on what's going on. There's no point trying to clear obstacles if you aren't in the right frame of mind, because then you'll add more stress to the pile. Be sensible.
Then make a list of all the things you have to accomplish, with highlighted deadlines if applicable. Generally, there are always one or two items that stand out; that make you wince; that speed up your heart beat. These are likely to be the important ones to tackle first. Star them or highlight them, so they stick out and don't blend in with the mass. Although, you probably won't be able to ignore them if you try!
Some of the items on the list will be small, others big. I like to work a few smaller ones in between the bigger ones, so I can cross through as much as I can as quickly as I can. This does wonders for my outlook, and makes me stronger, keen to press on. It's also amazing how short some of those pesky jobs are once you focus entirely on them, then sit down and actually action them.
So you might lose editing jobs, or writing opportunities during these times of life; you might not meet deadlines; you might only add 500 words to your manuscript in a couple of months. No point stressing about it. Really, there isn't. Because there will be another opportunity further down the line; a better one waiting just for you. The time you haven't had to write might allow your brain to kick up new ideas, new twists, or find the missing link in your flawed novel. Don't dwell on 'I need to's' or the 'I have to's'. Keep moving forward, keep doing what you can. Dory got it right. And look what happened to Marlin, he found Nemo!
Cry if you want to. Throw stuff and kick things. It doesn't tick anything off the list, but your tension will reduce. I'm all for throwing a tantrum!
Ask for help. Don't be proud.
Forget about social media. It's time consuming, and this is what you need to manage right now.
Things will always come to an end at some point. They have to. Just like a 24-hour flight to the other side of the world. Horrible and boring as it is, you will land at some point, it won't last forever. So stressing about it and getting your pants in a twist will change zilch.
I realise this blog isn't particularly writing related (I hope the GIFs made up for this a bit), but for me and my recent life challenges, it has impacted on my professional life massively. My writing has had to stop, so my commitments to others and my clients could be kept in some way or another. My manuscripts aren't going away; I do miss them and am dying to get stuck in, but right now, it's not going to happen. So what am I going to do?
I'm going to...just keep swimming.
Next month, I'm going to blog about Show, Don't Tell as a special treat to make up for my terrible performance of late!