Bank holidays don’t really mean much to freelancers. Other than there’s usually extra people in your house, and the post doesn’t get delivered.
I’ve been working all weekend on a project that’s nearing its conclusion, and I’m in the awful push at the end which involves the application of willpower and determination over fatigue. And I’m doing it without coffee! I never thought the day would dawn.
While I’m all in favour of discipline and schedules when it comes to writing – it’s a profession like any other – there’s a delicate balance between guiding your imagination towards the gate in a gentle fashion (think of sheep herding), and unleashing a couple of snarling dogs on the poor beast to force it to run faster.
Exhaustion and imagination don’t care for each other. When my output slows down in a forced march of words I’m better off taking a break. I can write a blog post, get out of the house and breathe fresh air, take photos, or watch a movie. Maybe even tackle some household chores. Or, get some sleep. Sometimes quitting earlier, going to bed, and rising earlier is a better solution than the unleashing the attack hounds of guilt to harry the words onto the screen in the wee hours of the night.
(Although, I’ve felt their teeth on the seat of my pants on more than one occasion… let’s say it’s not ideal, but sometimes necessary.)
And then there’s the problem of having your break turn into outright procrastination. Social media is often not the friend of the writer. Many of us lead an isolated existence, so we get our socialisation fix through online sources. It’s brilliant because it prevents us from going bonkers, but oh boy is it a monumental distraction.
The trick with the work / play divide (because, play is important to people, especially those who work creatively) is that your play should really be play: a fun, relaxing activity that allows your brain to recharge. Everyone has their favourite, but sometimes sitting in front of a computer (or a tablet) for another couple of hours is not what your brain will consider ‘downtime’.
That means figuring out what’s not helpful to your life and stop doing it. There are plenty of things you can cut out, when you consider what fuels your passions. Spending time with those you love and like is a fantastic way to get a boost. Meet a friend for an actual face-to-face conversation over a cup of tea, instead of an IM message. Or, if like me many of your mates live in other cities or countries, fire up Skype and do the next-best thing.
This is what can buoy us up, and provide a boost for creativity. Interacting with the world is the best way to be able to replicate it in your fiction.
Every day I’m out and about I see something, or overhear a conversation, that inspires me and sparks my imagination.
All that is quirky and odd is waiting out there for you to find it – so you can rob it wholesale, twist it, and add it to your stories!