I am not sure that I live 100% here; on my writing days I fall through a crack in the fabric of the Universe into another dimension, where the world as we know has ended. Even more than what we are seeing now…
I can pinpoint a big change in my life to the day when I was walking through Mosman’s #HeadlandPark and realised that many companies had been stablished in the business spaces I had once seen and wished to work at.
This was many years ago, when I took pictures of all the companies names and sent them my resume, asking for a job. I’m an Office Manager/EA, when I’m not being a writer, and that is a position that exists in many companies.
The Alive Mobile Group had just lost their person in that role and hired me. Alive would later transform and become part of The Mirus Group and move to Pyrmont, and it is where I still work (still a beautiful water-views office!)
At that time, the company was in Mosman, and I lived in the area. The office was phenomenal, with harbour views and my walk to work was incredibly inspiring, meandering through the cozy village and the paths of the Headland Park. I loved the company, the place and the culture (still do). The one thought that distracted me sometimes was that every day I would walk to work and wish I could write on the way, stop at the amazing locations and just sit down on a bench, or at a cafe, and write my heart out.
Alas, I had to get to work on time, and even though I did write before and after work some days, and took to write during some lunch hours, I had this consistent desire for more time.
Last week I was a bit disappointed because my writing day hadn’t been the most productive and suddenly I had this idea, that now, with my Writing Wednesdays, I could do exactly what I had wanted to do all those days while I was working in Mosman, I could walk the path, and stop for writing along the way… All day long!
It was an incredible experience, I left early with my writing gear, down to Balmoral Beach and all the way alongside it, crossing the Balmoral Park Oval and up the steps (many, many, very steep steps). I stopped at Frenchy’s Cafe for a couple of hours of writing.
Then I took the track behind the cafe through the Artist Precinct and found the bench with the most beautiful view in the world! Quite predictably, I sat there for another writing sprint… I watched while a guy — who must have a pretty great job — removed weeds from the bush.
When the sky started showing signs that it would fall on me, I continued my walk, and took this picture, bombed by a brisk walker.
By the time I got home, just before the rain really started falling, I had accumulated thousand of steps and, even better, thousands of words!
The concept of flexible discipline, (no idea where I took that from, I’m sure it is out there somewhere) inspires me.
I have a full day of writing per week to apply such concept and have fun in listing what I feel I should allow me to do or not and still consider myself to have been productive…
- Writing (obviously)
- Writing items on my main list of goals is better than just writing anything
- Writing useless emails are not valid, but writing complaints or anything that will free my mind of some annoying persistant thought is okay
- Writing about writing
- Research and preparation
- Character building
- Location research
- Contacting people to be interviewed
- Preparing Interviews
- Reading short, specific material (broad reading is for other days)
- Admin tasks that will organise the writing
- Writing travel booking
- Contacting story-related people
- Keeping up blogs and sites and social media
- Renewing domain names
- Clearing email inboxes and organising calendar
- Ideas building
- Taking a nap thinking of something (preferable with conscious dreaming)
- Walking meditation – focusing on something that needs solutions or ideas
- Swimming, dancing in the living room, or bathing meditations
- Cooking meditation
- Catching the ferry or the train for writing while travelling (not travel writing)
- Day writing adventures
- Libraries visit writing
- Toilet breaks – even many of them (they are great for sparking ideas)
- Freeing your mind
- Taking notes of ideas for writing
- Cataloguing ideas for writing (blog posts? books? short stories?)
- Doing small tasks that take little time and un-clot the mind
- Organising the space before starting to feel ready to start
- Writing any messages and booking any appointments early in the day and letting people know its the end of the conversation for the day
- Regular breaks to refresh and get the blood pumping
- Bobbing on yoga ball (for the same reason above)
- Editing and publishing
- Editing and proofreading
- Layout creating and cover creation
- Hiring freelancers
- Sending material to publishers
- “Coffee glides into one’s stomach and sets all of one’s mental processes in motion” Honoré de Balzac
I have recently started working four days a week to write one day. To make it work I have created a few structural strategies and some mental ones.
“If you do not fill your day with high priority actions that inspire you, your day will fill up with low priority distractions…” Dr. Demartini
My Structural Strategies:
- Wednesday Writing Day — it was not only good for the company I work for, as my busiest days are Monday and Friday; it is to signal my mind that my day off the job is still a Working Day.
- A day for Writing — it is NOT for laundry, for cleaning, buying groceries or lazying on the beach. I can go to the beach, for lunch-and-back, or to write there, or to plot about something I’m writing, but meaningful work has to be achieved.
- Journaling — a list of writing-related tasks completed — that serves as an antidote to poisonous thoughts and create the proof that I have and am doing enough.
- Physical Writing Space — a great writing space with a desk that allows for standing or seating, with a beautiful, large monitor and a super cute typewriter (just in case the world ends and the computers stop working, if that happens I can keep writing!).
- No shoes, no bra — I wake up and make my bed, dress comfortably but in clothes that mean business, make my coffee and setup my computer at my workspace. I do make allowances though, unless I’m going out, no shoes, no bra are allowed.
My Mental Strategies:
- Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries — nothing is permitted to invade my sacred space, not my shit, not anyone else’s.
- No limits — I refrain from any commitments on this day, even lunchtime, early mornings or evenings, I never know when creativity will flow best, so I reserve the full day to allow for it to catch me at any time of the day.
- Clear and achievable goals — keeping them visible and constantly in mind; focusing on them as primary objectives.
- Flexible discipline — with a strong commitment to the process. I work first in my primary objectives, if it that isn’t flowing, I do anything related to the writing process: it might be creating ideas, researching characters, taking notes, writing about the process, keeping the admin tasks of the job in check. All work is valid, even napping while considering a narrative plot.
- Break the resistance — try first, what you most want to achieve, start, put effort, if it flows, you just keep going; if not, do some other useful task; if the flow doesn’t come, it wasn’t resistance, it just wasn’t the best moment to write that part. (Based on Seth Godin’s ideas on “The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?”
- Allow for changes in environment — make writing and researching excursions; change the writing location when the house is not the right mental space.
- What takes me closer to my mission? — is the question that saves my sanity every time, whenever I am indecisive about something. Make choices, any choices are better than none, any word count is better than nothing, any writing related activity is valid.
- Reward good work.
Lastly I keep reminding myself that there are no rights and wrongs in my writing days, there is only what takes me closer to my mission at that moment!
I have achieved something that has been in my radar for many years. On 1st September 2018, I reduced my day-job journey to four days a week, to give myself one day a week of full time writing.
Right at the beginning I was organising my “Ideas for Writing” folder and found a list of writing goals I had set for 2017 and realised I had accomplished all of them by September 2018, one of them being the weekly author’s day. It was inspiring, even if there was a delay in the completion of the goals and it was a lesson that told me to keep establishing goals and not giving up on them even when they don’t follow my original timeline.
I can’t express how grateful and fulfilled I am feeling. Having one full day of quality time, fresh-brain, undivided attention to dedicate to my passion is unbelievably powerful. I am finding that not only I produce much more efficiently, the inspiration comes more powerfully, and the anxiety I used to feel over not having time to write has lost its grip on me.
I used to feel anxious every time I had an idea, and no energy or time to write it.
Another interesting aspect is that with the writing day in the middle of the week, (I chose Wednesdays for my Writing day) I get more done on weekends too. There is a momentum effect, by the weekend I haven’t forgotten what I have been working on, it just simmers under the surface, boiling new ideas and aspects to focus on…
I will never take this opportunity for granted, I feel grateful to each of the moments and aspects of my life that allowed me to get here.