When Your Brain’s Too Busy To Write, What the Heck Can You Do?
Do you have those days/weeks/fortnights where you’re fleeing around on your hamster wheel wondering if you’ll ever get a chance to focus on your writing?
Me too! I’ve had an extra busy week (but in a good way – new clients, returning authors, new enquiries and opportunities and that kind of lovely stuff) and while this makes me super happy, my brain’s been too busy to write and that little naggy voice in my head is having a field day.
“Ahem… you haven’t written one word of your new book this week. You haven’t written any new blogs AND you haven’t done x, y and z. What have you got to say for yourself?”
So I took some time out this morning for reflection (ie staring out the window at the crazy green parrot in the house opposite which I can’t make out is real or not). The Nag’s right, I thought, I was going to make a start on writing my new book this week, but I’ve done absolutely zilch about it. I know my brain’s been too busy to write this week but still… how come:
1. It’s Friday and I feel like I haven’t got anything done?
2. I haven’t even mustered up 500 words of my new book yet?
3. I can’t seem to find any quiet space/me time to just calm everything down?
And I came up with the following advice for myself (which you can are welcome to use if the cap fits).
Brain Calming Advice Tip #1 Get Real
How productive have you REALLY been this week?
I checked through my work diary, and quite honestly, I have been busy. I’ve written critique reports for unpublished manuscripts, created blurbs, edited web pages and written meta descriptions, and I’ve proofread a brochure and menu inserts for a gorgeous hotel selling high-end wedding packages. (Note to self, never proofread wedding menus – or any kind of menus – when you’re starving!)
I’ve had my little Miss H to the orthodontist (45 minute round trip for just 5 minutes in the chair… grrr!). I’ve had my fur baby out for 10 half hour walks. And I’ve managed to get my 14-year-old boy out of bed every morning and fed before school (that’s a huge achievement in itself!). I’ve had a call with a friend/client to prep for a talk I’m giving to one of her coaching groups next week, and I’ve had an editorial/content meeting with another friend/client to talk about fresh new content for some projects we’re working on together. So there, Nag, there’s some clear evidence that I haven’t been faffing at all! Hurrah!
New rule: schedule a 5-minute ‘reflection’ slot into my Friday afternoons to give myself a reality check and see how productive my week has been (instead of assuming it was just a mish-mash of faff). It’s all too easy to beat yourself up when you haven’t got any writing done, but if you take a look at everything else you’ve done, you’ll realise your productivity has soared in other ways.
Brain Calming Advice Tip #2 Get Organised
How can you make time to write every day?
My brain fires and sparks on all its cylinders first thing on a morning, so rather than faff about fire-fighting, checking every ping my phone makes or my PC, and winging it until lunchtime, I know I need to get more organised. If I start my day writing the 500 words I need to do to meet my target deadline, then I’ll make progress. If I tell myself, ‘Oh I’ll just get such-and-such’s blog written or that proofreading job finished before I focus on my writing’ then I won’t get it done. So this is my new rule. 500 words before my work-work stuff starts.
New rule: two kids woken up, fed, and sent to school, one dog walked, one giant cup of coffee made and then 500 words written before doing anything else. No excuses. No phone calls. No just checking Facebook. 500 words.
Brain Calming Advice Tip #3 Get Quiet
How can you quieten your mind to allow the creative juices to flow?
There are quite a few ways I do this. You may or may not know that I like a bit of woo-woo now and again. So I’m not averse to downing tools and looking for a 5 minute meditation on YouTube to calm things down when they’re all going batty. I also like to do a little tapping (EFT) with Brad Yates or David Childerley every day and this is a great way to get me grounded.
Deep breathing is another good habit I’ve picked up which soothes my busy brain cells. I have a Fitbit Charge with a special button on it which guides me through two-minutes of deep breathing, and it makes a huge difference if I feel like the hamster wheel is going too quickly. Obviously, having a little puppy dog, I have to take him out for regular walks, and the vitamin-D binge, the fresh air, and getting away from screens for half an hour always seems to encourage a steady drip of
creative juice.(Which is why I always have to stop and pop notes into my phone’s notepad.)
New rule: instead of racing through my day, schedule some quiet time/me time/self-care in at regular intervals. A steady, focused quiet mind is a much more creative and productive mind.
Ah, I feel better already, don’t you? So the next time your brain’s too busy to write, you know what to do.
If you have other ways of shushing all that busy-ness out of your brain so you can focus on your writing, I’d love to hear them!