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365 Days

I’m really not sure where the past year has gone. I feel like I say this more and more as I get older, but in the case of the past year, I truly do not know. The last 365 days have included a move, a day job change and several writing commitments. All have been a source of joy but all have thrown an absolute monkey wrench into my productivity, my personal rhythms and my daily focus.

It’s through that lens that I wanted to focus on today’s post. I’ve been fortunate – the past year, for all its craziness, hasn’t involved loss or hardship and for that I am more grateful than I can say. But even with that sense of gratitude, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it was hard.

Everything I’d established over the past few years, from writing early each day to pacing through the weekends on my work has changed. And I’ve genuinely struggled to get back on track.

In the midst of this craziness, I’ve learned a few things about myself and I wanted to share them. I hope they help you if you find yourself in a similar situation or if you hit those moments where things just feel a bit “off the rails.”

 

Keep the joy

While my productivity has suffered mightily, my joy for the craft of writing hasn’t waned. It’s been important to me to keep working on projects that I love and that excite me and that has made all the difference in getting through the days and weeks where any sense of routine has vanished.

Staying excited with my projects – even if my page production is lower than I’d like – has been essential.

 

Learn to say no

As I suspect most people would agree, saying no isn’t easy or pleasant or comfortable. Saying no is hard and it manifests in many ways, from volunteering to work commitments to family commitments.

I hate the idea of saying no to anyone, but in order to protect my writing time, my work time and some of my limited personal time, I’ve had to begin saying no. It’s tough to write books in drips and drabs, with a lot of breaks in the time spent with the work. I’m finally beginning to feel OK with admitting that to myself.

But what I’ve also learned is that finding balance and putting writing time as a priority isn’t selfish or unloving. Giving yourself permission to set boundaries is important and, at certain times in life, must take priority.

 

Every page counts

While books don’t get written in drips and drabs, every page does count. For that reason, it’s important not to discount what can be done in smaller increments. A page or two during lunch or proofreading on the subway or working through revisions on a scene can happen in small snatches and it’s important to take those opportunities when you can.

None of this is earth shattering, but as I look back on my journey over the past year, I realize that – once again – writing has given me several valuable lessons that I will keep with me. In the meantime, I finally feel like I’m getting my rhythm back. It’s new – the beat is a bit different than it was before – but it feels good.

The next 365 days may fly by as fast as the last, but I’m looking forward to facing them with a few more skills in my toolbox.

Happy Writing!!

Addison

 

 

16 responses to “365 Days”

  1. Jenn! says:

    Learning to say no is one of my issues. Most of it is to activities my kids are involved in. Sure, I want to help out at their schools and their sports organizations are run by volunteers (and require families volunteer). But after 3 years of volunteering and the volunteering began to suck the life from me, meaning I was losing my writing time, I knew I had to step back.

    Great post!

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    • Addison Fox says:

      Jenn!

      It’s so true. And those things that do take up our time are time are worthy experiences, too – that’s what makes them so hard to say no to!

      Addison

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  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    This is a good reminder to keep the joy. When writing becomes a chore, it’s easy to get discouraged. I’ve been reading a lot since Christmas and I’ve loved how it’s been sparking new ideas. Now, if only I could get my rhythm back too!

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    • Addison Fox says:

      Here’s to getting that rhythm back!!! And it sounds like the ideas are sparking which is awesome! 🙂

      Addison

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  3. I hear you, Addison. The past 365 days is a blur for many reasons, but it definitely derailed me. Unfortunately, I lost the joy sometime last Spring and have been trying to get that back. Some days, I feel back on the track, chugging toward something great. Others, I still struggle. But the good days have been more frequent lately. I’ve found taking “me” time to try to rediscover my creative self has been helpful (i.e., reading, watching TV/movies and studying characters and plot, revisiting craft books, walking). I know I’ll eventually get back on track. It might be a different train, but I’ll find the right fit. 😉

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    • Addison Fox says:

      So glad you’ve taken the time to refill the well, AM! And here’s to new tracks, new trains and a fresh 365 to ride them! 🙂

      Addison

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  4. Your “learn to say no” observation is a good one, Addison. The older I get the more I realize a busy life is not necessarily a full life. 🙂

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  5. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    * Keep the JOY
    * Learn to say NO
    * EVERY page counts
    and BREATHE

    Great advice! My past 365 have been a bit of a whirlwind and sometimes feel like I’ve been completely thrown off kilter. & it looks as though I may not be out of the waves yet, but I’m still sailing forward:)

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  6. Great reminders to all writers who go through rough times, Addison. Sometimes we need to take a step back, remember why we started on the this path, rejoice in the friendships and experiences we’ve gained, and just be us.

    I’m hoping the next 365 will be awesome, and a tad slower, for you.

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    • Addison Fox says:

      Thank you!

      And you’ve hit it – taking time to regroup and reassess is always valuable!

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  7. Gwynlyn says:

    Only crazy people write, but the company is darned good! I’ve had to make myself sit and write because there’s no such thing as a schedule in my world. Stay up late? He can’t sleep. Get up early? The pain woke him. Five free minutes? Doctor appointment. It’s a crazy way to live, but like you, I’m finding my way though it.

    Congrats on all the changes. I hope they made, and continue to make, you happy as you find your way in the new dynamic.

    1+

  8. Oh, yes, Addison! Thanks for the reminder. Life does get in the way of writing, and it’s reassuring to be reminded that every page is progress. Hoping the next year is more serene for you.

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  9. Tamara Hogan says:

    So much wisdom here, Addison. Personal rhythms, daily habits, are so important, aren’t they? They can influence us more than we might think. I’m very process-oriented, in both work and in daily life, and I find getting thrown out of those regular patterns quite discombobulating. (Sheldon Cooper: “It’s Thursday. We always go to the comic book store on Thursday.”) Staying productive when life circumstances change can be so challenging for those of us who like – who REQUIRE – structure in our lives. I hope things are steadying out for you.

    One of the silver linings of being diagnosed with a chronic illness in childhood was getting a jump start on learning how to say ‘no.’ Physical limitations can draw some pretty ruthless boundaries, particularly around available energy, and I’ve learned I need to allocate it to priorities first, and nice-to-do’s next. I’m – we’re – no good to anyone else if our energy is depleted.

    Pro Tip: “No” is a complete sentence. It requires no further explanation. If you feel the need to say more, “That won’t work for me” suffices. 😉

    Finding, and keeping, the joy can be tough sometimes, but it’s one of the few things we personally control in this wacky business. When I feel myself getting dragged down by publishing matters (and it’s almost always publishing, not writing) I sometimes transport myself back to my 10th grade English classroom, to the day when a “real writer” (from the Poets in the Schools program) gave me some feedback on a poem, smiled, and then said, “You’re really good. Keep going.”

    That feeling? Priceless.

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  10. I remember how slowly time seemed to pass when I was a little kid waiting for a birthday or a special trip – can we go back to that somehow? The days just keep racing by!

    These are great reminders, Addison, especially when we’re overwhelmed. I’ve definitely needed them this week! 🙂

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