All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy – What Do You Do to Relax?
I felt myself turning into to Jack Nicholson from The Shining this week. As a dark cloud of insanity engulfed me, I had visions of Jack sitting behind his typewriter in that huge great room typing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again. I knew then it was time to pull the plug.
Staring at my screen in my own Overlook Hotel, getting angrier and angrier, I knew I had to stop.
Working Hard This Year
I’ve been working hard this year, probably harder than I have any year, and just like Jack Torrance who thought it would be great to go to the Overlook Hotel and write his book, as I sat and began my sixth 1st draft manuscript this year, rolling that first sheet of paper into my virtual typewriter, I felt the big black crow of insanity alight on my shoulder.
After a couple of days of typing away on my latest draft, the kids playing in the next room. the Christmas tree was running into its own problems of being erected. I just knew I had to slam on the breaks and do something radical, which wasn’t easy. You see, I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I’m either all in or all out, I don’t really do the grey area in the middle. It’s hard for me, I loose focus all too easy if don’t commit fully and give it all I’ve got. It has its advantages. If I set my mind to something I can usually make it happen, but it comes at a price, and that is that I shut everything else out of my world till I complete my task. But if I don’t stop and have fun and schedule in play dates for myself, my once fun work can get the better of me and I start becoming dull. And I know with my writing if I don’t take a break in-between projects I end up looking like this:
So I pried my gnarled fingers away from my iMac, iPad and iPhone, I had to shut it all off at least for one whole day and sever the cord that kept dragging my back to do the next writing related task.
Writing Related Tasks:
Writing my 2,000 words a day
Editing a manuscript
Reading the next book on writing
SEOing my site
Coming up with the next blog post
Checking social media
As much as I love this stuff normally, I knew I had to take a break and have some fun. I told my husband how I was feeling and he asked me when was the last time I danced? Hmmmm probably over a week ago, I thought. Then thoughts of Christmas loomed over me knowing that I have a lot of work ahead of me in the coming weeks, so that Santa can show up for our five kids! I was starting to crumble under the pressure of it all.
Time to Relax
Not wanting to just swap one task for another, I decided to set up my pottery wheel in the garage that’s been collecting dust for months, and at least set down my writing for four days to give my creative self a different outlet!
As I sat behind my potter’s wheel and felt the clay begin to mold beneath my fingers, I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy at first. As I wrangled with that mud, trying to center it, doubt started to creep in around the edges. As I wrestled with the clay in front of me and the idea of getting back to my real work. I kept coming back to it day after day, and eventually I started to sneak glimpses of the peace I was seeking. When the clay finally complied and slipped through my fingers effortlessly, I let out a long low sigh as my wheel began to sing to me. Relaxation seeped in and the pressure began to ease.
I have decided to take my foot of the gas a little, to allow space for my other creative pursuits that feed my soul in different ways. This ultimately can only help my writing, so that I can bring a more playful and creative spirit back to the page. And I definitely know I have to take breaks between drafts. I already had this as one of my writing rules knowing that I need a break between projects, but I broke it anyway, knowing I had one more draft to complete by December 31st. That was a mistake, because instead of lessening the pressure I was feeling, it was only increasing. I still plan to ‘do my best’ and finish my manuscript, trusting that by taking a few days off, I will bring back my old fun-loving playful self and the work will be easier!
My goals for 2016 are going to look a little different, I plan to make sure there is more play and less work!
I would really love to hear from you this week, seriously, I need to! What do you do for fun? How do you change things up? What do you do to kick back and relax? What’s your work / play balance like?
I’d love to know, please share your stories, suggestions and ideas in the comment box below!
Oh and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Serafina and the Black Cloak
What Do You Do to Relax?
Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont
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