I’m sure you are wondering why I haven’t written in my blog for so long. Lots of things have been happening in my personal life that made it difficult to write.
I broke my foot in Aug 2011, and thought that I would have time to write. However, a lot of my time was spent going to medical appointments, and it took a lot more time that it would normally take to do things like making meals and washing my hair. Dealing with unemployment insurance and such also took up a lot of my time. Normally such a break would take eight to ten weeks to heal, but mine took fifteen weeks to heal. About the time when my foot was close to healed, the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut offered me a place in their advanced program, based on my instructor’s recommendation and a committee’s evaluation of my work in the program that I had just finished. I agreed, because I was eager to continue honing my writing skills.
I was just starting to get my life back on track, when my brother died on the operating table on Nov 30, 2011. I was thankful to still be off work, but instead of reading and writing, I spend my time crying and trying to comprehend what had happened. Of course, working with my family on funeral arrangements long distance took up a lot of time, too. The wonderful man that I was seeing was very supportive and, before I left, we had a long, romantic supper together and talked about taking an extended trip overseas in a few years. I wasn’t thinking about writing.
I got through the funeral, and came back home in Jan 2012 anxious to get back to work and to spend time with my guy. I was informed by the school board that I was put on leave with pay at one of my schools, because they didn’t want me to do the stairs at that school. This meant that I would have every afternoon off with pay until the end of the school year. I planned to use that time for reading and writing. However, that time got used to think about my brother and cry. Then, a few weeks later, I found out that my elderly mother, the only member of my immediate family that I have left, was diagnosed with cancer. My guy stopped returning my phone messages and text messages, and I couldn’t even consider using my afternoons to write. I had a lot of grieving to do. I’m happy to report that my mother got through her chemo and has been cancer-free for around a year and a half now.
Back to Jan 2013: I trudged along, trying to start writing “Don’t tell Julie!” but I couldn’t concentrate, and was obliged to ask for an extension for every single assignment. I wanted to just forget about my life as a writer completely until I got my personal life back on track, but I had already paid for my online course and I wanted to try to use those assignments as something positive to think about.
I ended up meeting another guy later that month, but it’s been a rocky road, and that turned into yet another distraction. I had to learn to set some limits and boundaries and, when I started doing so, the assignments started getting emailed on time, with no more requests for extensions.
You probably won’t believe me, but in Jan 2014, I broke my leg (at least it’s a change from breaking feet) and, again, I was back to spending my days going to medical appointments and taking care of myself as best I could. However, I did manage to get some writing done this winter, and have finished the rough draft of “Don’t tell Julie!”
It’s hard for women to compartmentalize their lives and think about one thing at a time, and I’m no exception to the rule. When difficult situations drag on, I spend my emotional and mental energy thinking of what I have to do to make the situation I’m obsessed about better. A loved one has a problem that has a big impact on my life, and I dream about solutions rather than letting the person learn to take responsibility for the situation and make things right. Again, my trying to solve this person’s problem drains my energy and it’s hard to concentrate on my writing.
I have always depended heavily on my agenda, but I am learning that I need to schedule work, medical appointments, ESL students, etc. into the agreed upon time slots and then schedule time for cooking and cleaning. This does leave some time slots for writing. Maybe the writing should come first, but I concentrate better in a clean environment. If my keyboard and desk are dusty, and I don’t know what I’m going to have for supper, I think about those things rather than spending the next hour writing. I’m more productive if I take a few minutes to dust and take something out of the freezer that I can throw in the oven. Once I do those things, I can concentrate on writing for the following hour or so.
If I get up at a reasonable time on a Saturday and get my laundry started and my dishes done, along with any other housecleaning, it’s surprising how productive I can be at the keyboard Saturday afternoon. However, If I sleep in till 11: 00, take a shower, have brunch, then do housecleaning all afternoon, my Saturday is shot before I even get started writing. My health may require some extra sleep, but I feel better when I get that extra sleep by going to bed a bit earlier on Friday night.
Fighting for that time dedicated to writing may involve letting the phone ring, writing down a list of things to do in the next few days instead of just doing those things right away, and saying no to certain activities. These are still things I am working out for myself, but I’ve noticed an improvement.
Have you had similar experiences with your personal time management? Do you manage to find time to finish projects that you would like to finish or even start? Do you have any suggestions for me? Please leave a comment in the comments section below.