What I learned from NOT writing

My to-do list doesn’t yet seem to be shrinking, despite the back to school breathing space of the past week. As fast as I cross things off, more gets added. So I have decided to write instead. The prerogative of a mother with children out of the house.

I spent my summer putting off writing, not because of a lack of ideas. They were quite free flowing actually, (although I have yet to perfect the art of capturing them suitably to prevent their irretrievable loss in the depths of my brain). I managed a couple of blog posts and probably around 3000 words of potential novel as well as several plotline adjustments. Most of that was on holiday.

I spent my summer ignoring the blogging world, linkies and social media quite well. Not that I didn’t manage a few Instagram pictures, or a lot of Facebook browsing. Apologies to anyone who commented on any of my posts towards the end of July. I still haven’t got around to replying to them. Somehow I gained a couple of followers here and there.

I missed the writing, blogging, interactions; and I didn’t.

What on earth did I fill my time with? I’m not quite sure to be honest, but I spent a lot of time with my girls. And 3 of the 6 weeks were on holiday and then I was sick for another one. Leaving only two weeks of being at home.

The summer flew by, and whilst I have nothing particularly concrete to show for it, I can’t help but feel lighter and rested and renewed. I needed that holiday. I wouldn’t say that I am raring to go now; in the last week I feel a little like I have been dragged backwards into old ways, albeit with a little more insight.

So, what have I learned from NOT doing?

• Being a parent is tough (well, I did know that already really). There is no ‘having it all’. You either pay attention to your children and reap the rewards; or you decide to do your thing and deal with the parenting consequences. That is not to judge either way. I have and will continue to do both.

But in truth, as a stay at home mum, the holidays are for paying attention to the children. Or finding childcare. There is no middle ground for wriggle room. So as I don’t have money for childcare, school holidays have to be for them. No writing, unless it appears effortlessly.

• I need more sleep. In term-time I have to get up at 6am, because otherwise there is just no way I can get everyone ready to leave the house on time. Earlier in the year I was even getting up at 5.30am to write morning pages on top of that, which was quite frankly crazy and a BAD idea.

But in the holidays without the school run looming I had the pleasure of lying in until 7am (I can feel the thrill run through me now!). And I felt so much better for it. Less dead when I woke up. Unlike this morning… So I have readjusted my perspective on what NEEDS to be done before school (No writing then!). Although somehow I do want to squeeze my run back in…

• Lastly and rather blasphemously for the online world, I realised how little I enjoy ‘interacting’ on social media. I simply cannot relate to all the people out there, and I have to think about my responses and measure out my energy. I have terrible focus, memory and attention span, which is slightly at odds with social media.

I have been tempted at times over the holidays to get rid of this part of my life completely. But. I have grown to love some corners and genuine relationships, it’s not all bad. I have ambitions beyond writing solely though. So I only need to do what I want not what I think I ought to. No social media at the expense of writing or positivity.

Phew, and now I’m really looking forward to having time to get back to doing what I love to do, the writing.

P.S. I love making up ‘rules’ for myself, is that weird? It just helps me…

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. I think the most important thing is to always listen to your body, and do whatever will make you happy. If you need lots of sleep, then getting up early is going to start catching up with you. Also if you don’t enjoy social media, then don’t do it. The so-called blogging rules are for those that are happy to conform to them anyway #screwtherules #doituyourway

  2. caramckee says:

    I am feeling really disconnected at the moment. Like I should give up on things. The things that I’ve done for years, like photo challenges on Instagram, feel like navel gazing, and I can’t seem to remember how to write poetry, just when I’m starting to get some poems accepted in better magazines. I think I should probably stop and cuddle up on the sofa and catch up with Poldark, but instead I’m making myself write stuff which I think is rubbish, in the hopes that I’ll sort it out later. I don’t know if that’s a good plan either. Personally I quite like the sound of not doing it for a bit. BTW I write ideas down in Keep on my phone, with the intention of coming back to it later. Sometimes I even do!

  3. So much of this blog posted resonated with me. I did do some blogging in the hols but cut back hugely. It was a memorable summer for me because I let go and spent so much time with my children too. #whatimwriting

  4. maddy@writingbubble says:

    I can definitely see the benefits of life without social media. I’m pretty sure the less I look at FB, the happier I am. But, as you say, it has its upsides too. I think we have to figure out what works for us and stick to that… although both aspects of that are easier said than done! And as for the idea of getting up early to write?! That wouldn’t work for me at all I’m certain, but it’s an idea I’ve read about so often that I sometimes feel like I ‘should’ give it a try. I find it kind of reassuring to hear that you’ve tried but that it doesn’t work! Glad you feel rested after your summer. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting xxx

  5. Nicola Young says:

    I love your thought processes spelling out in to this post. I agree, it’s good to take a break from the pressures of social media, even blogging. Finding a balance between everything you want to do isn’t easy, but hopefully after your summer break, you’ll have renewed energy to work it all out.

  6. Marija Smits says:

    There’s definitely lots to learn from NOT writing, and it sounds as though your holiday was mighty refreshing (I desperately needed mine too). I’m not an early morning riser either but I do like to write late into the night. But, I’m going to be a teensy bit pedantic and argue that there is a little wriggle room with children in the holidays. I sometimes simply had to ‘sneak off’ to do my work; mostly the telly entertained them but other times they played happily with each other. Okay, so maybe that didn’t last long but they’re old enough now to know that sometimes I really do need a break and to be able to do my own thing. But of course what works for one family may not work for another family. And although I may not see you so often in the social media world I’m happy that you’re back and blogging again. 🙂

  7. suz says:

    Finding time to write AND do the social media thing AND life is a balancing act. Good luck in working it out.

  8. I definitely identify with the satisfaction of setting your own rules…The process of working out what works for you, and then helping yourself move forwards within those boundaries, can be incredibly empowering I think! I worry that I will always struggle with social media – I don’t want to unplug completely, but I still waste way too much time on it. I feel like I’ve found a rhythm with blogging that suits me – hopefully one day I’ll work the rest out too… xx

  9. Kamsin says:

    We all need a break sometimes. Despite what all the productivity experts or the “write every day” proponents might claim, we aren’t machines and time off is essential.

    And I can’t do getting up early to do writing either. It just makes me overtired and cranky and that is no good for anyone!


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