For the past few months I've been talking about how this year I'm focusing on reclaiming my writing career. This is the year of me and I'm putting myself and what I love at the top of my priorities list. And so far I've been doing a pretty good job. I received my first contract of 2017 a few weeks ago. Wrote a first draft for another work and I'm getting close to having another submitted to a publisher.
While I'm not meeting all the goals I set for myself (though I never do, since I tend to set way too many and too difficult goals) I'm really happy with the progress I've made. I tend to be a pretty focused person, which can be really great for goal achievement, but not so good for life balance. In my younger days, I used to work a full eight to nine hours at the evil day job then go home and write or revise for another several hours. I made burning the candle at both ends a way of life, not just an occasional thing. But I find that I don't have the energy to work that way anymore. And more than that I don't want to. I want to have a more of an even life, while still achieving my goals.
I've been using my time management skills the best I can, sneaking in writing and revising at every available time and maximizing my time, but a few weeks ago it occurred to me something was missing. I was listening to Jillian Michael's Podcast (which I highly recommend, its very funny and insightful) and she brought up a concept she's discussed many times before. The idea of a rest day. She mentioned that your body needs at least one rest day a week from your exercise routine to help recover and grow stronger.
Even though I've heard this may times before, this time something clicked in my head. I realized that's what I need to do with my writing. I need to take a rest day. A day where my mind rests, where I don't worry about making my word goal or my revision goal. I just let my brain rest and recharge.
For the last two weeks I have been trying to take a rest day. At least one day a week where I don't try to write or revise but just let my mind and creative spirit rest. Its not an easy idea for me. I like to be constantly moving towards a goal, working towards what I want. But a writing career is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. If I want to make it to the end, I need to take time for myself and enjoy the ride.
I can't say that taking these rest days has necessarily improved my writing. Its still a little too early to tell. But it is improving my energy level. Most weeks the day I pick to rest is Monday and allowing myself to just relax on that day instead of trying to push for more, does seem to give me more energy throughout the week.
Though the fight with my inner task manager is still strong. I just keep trying to convince myself that sometimes taking a step back is exactly what you need to do, to prepare to take that running leap forward and jump into the sky. If I want to reach the heights I have in mind, I need to put myself first and not just my writing. Only time will tell who will win the battle.