July 31, 2016 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
Writing has always been my way of making meaning out of experience.
There are many advantages to the practice. It makes you pay attention. It clarifies your thought processes. It allows you to reflect on your emotions; if you are Wordsworth, you get to do so in tranquility, and the results will be poetic.
But there are times, as I have mentioned before, when you can write too much. When you may have to slow down, or stop altogether. Even for a blogger. There are actually good reasons for doing so, reasons that have nothing to do with procrastinating, being undisciplined, or not having enough motivation. Here are four.
1. You are getting your house in order.
In my case this is both literal and metaphorical. I moved in April. After four years sharing the homes of two generous friends, I once more have my own. Though I have had periods of loneliness, it is a loneliness I need to feel. There is a strong feeling of retreat here, of hermitage.
I have a lot of inner work to do. But there is also something about getting this house in order that reflects that inner work. If there is clutter, or I am too tired at the end of the day to straighten up, I cannot blame a toddler or a spouse for the mess. All is me.
Not that the chaos of other people doesn’t come with its own joy. But my current circumstances have a blessed elegance to them. Every time I pare down my possessions, I am saying something about what I deem essential to my life. Every time I add something, this is true as well. Doing so thoughtfully takes time.
If you need to take time to get your house in order, take it. This, too, is creative work. In the long run your writing – and your blog – will benefit.
2. You have ignored essential aspects of self-care.
I spend a lot of time staring off into space these days. It gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure to do so on my tiny balcony that faces downtown, particularly if I can drink a decent Irish whiskey while ruminating – alone, or in the company of a friend. Often I contemplate the light display on the top four floors of the Target building, which changes every week or so.
I can lose myself in that fish tank. [Granted, for you to get anything like the same effect, you have to turn the sound off.] I don’t even have to clean it. Instead, it cleans me. Cleans my mind.
With a new place – and a milestone birthday – comes a desire to form some new habits and routines, and to recommit to a few older ones. To get enough sleep. To prepare and eat healthful meals. To meditate. To take more walks.
The older I get, the more I find I need physical activity to offset the sedentary nature of my job. I am at a desk all day. I cannot spend all night there as well. Burning the candle at both ends is a sport for the young. And I like walks. I probably need a little gentle yoga too.
If reeconnecting with your body has become important, pay attention. Writing is an embodied act. Respect the instrument. Your body of work – including your blog – will thank you.
3. You have to earn a living.
There is some irony to the fact that my retreat, my hermitage, is on a major one way thoroughfare out of downtown. Hennepin County Medical Center is eight blocks north. Ambulances with their sirens wailing are frequent interruptions in the midst of the quieter rumble of traffic three stories down, punctuated by the occasional bad muffler or hotshot drag race.
Still, in some very real way this reflects how I live my life, each work day, as a grant writer in a large social services organization. There is always some siren wailing. Learning to be calm before, after, and during these emergencies is a needed discipline for me. Giving my best is important too.
I have spoken before about the difficulty of doing my own writing after a full day of writing for someone else. It is particularly difficult now. The day job has been extraordinarily challenging. It is sometimes hard to extricate myself from that work.
If you, too, have a day job, and that work drains you all the time, you may want to find a different line of work. But if the situation is a temporary necessity, don’t beat yourself up. Bring your creativity to the marketplace, and when you come home, relax and renew yourself. Spend time with the people you love. The blog will be there when you get back.
4.You are writing on the wrong platform.
Bloggin has been my platform of choice – I have no other writing I am promoting – but I can’t really follow the rules of bloggery right now –weekly publication, reliably giving people something they can use in their daily lives, clickbate list posts with numbers in the titles. (Well, okay. I managed this week.) I can’t be bothered caring about maintaining page views and a consistent social media presence. The stakes are higher now.
There have been some big changes recently in my parents’ lives. I hinted at this in my last post. Things are relatively stable now, but the last three months – coincident with both my move and my milestone birthday – have been very rough. There are things I need to write about – for exactly the reasons I outlined in my first paragraph. To pay attention. To clarify. To reflect.
Some of my deepest online connections have come from people who have responded to posts about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and my father’s caregiving. So I know the work is meaningful to others as well. But this kind of writing can’t really be churned out like blog posts are supposed to be churned out. I need to tell this story. If you can stick with me, you will be reading it. But it must be written at its own pace.
Slowing down to tackle a difficult piece of writing does not mean you have lost interest in blogging. It may instead mean you have regained a little perspective.
Or so says my current, erratically blogging self.
What say you?