Something I learned last month

Last month was spent trying to move from Clarksburg, WV to Montgomery, AL. This weekend I finally managed to do it. Right now I'm sitting in my Mother-in-Law's house -- our temporary location while we look for permanent digs -- and I feel exhausted.

My wife and daughter had gone on ahead, leaving me to do the last bit of packing that needed to be done before following them down here with our dog. That "last bit of packing" turned into a nightmare that kept me in WV a full three weeks longer than I'd planned. It was nuts. And during that time I learned that while I'm capable of many things, one thing I apparently can't do is focus on writing when my routine is disrupted that significantly.

When I'm traveling? No problem. On vacation? I can still find time to write. When I'm in the middle of packing my life into boxes and trying to shove it into a storage unit as fast as I can so I can live with my family again? Apparently that's when my ability to tell stories just... goes away.

I suspect there are plenty of writers who can handle that level of disruption, or even thrive on it. I'm not one of them.

Oh, I despise it when my routine is screwed up.

The holidays are the worst. I had one day last Christmas where we were visiting family in Toronto, due to reshuffling and places with no internet, to car rides and my brother/his girlfriend deciding to take a 2.5 hour detour to shop (on a day where I had a chapter due, and where I'd been promised a full day to write), I had to transcribe/write a full chapter in less than three hours. It usually takes me 12+. (I'd handwritten what I could in the car, but hardly ideal, a lot of it gets written in the dark with no light to see what I was putting down, and it leaves me with zero idea what the wordcount is).

My aunt made me tea and gave me permission to skip the bulk of the socializing/post-meal conversation, and I'll love her forever for that.

I haven't yet missed a scheduled update, but I've had two fuckups, and they occurred when my routine was heavily disrupted (exams and renovations, respectively). Between those & the sheer unhappiness of what happened over Christmas, believe me, I can empathize.

My wife says something to my kids about energy -- "I have a cup. When my cup is full, I can handle a lot. When it starts to run out, I will be less patient. Do you want to make a big deal about this (insert minor child problem here) and use up some of the cup, or do you want me to save some energy for something bigger or more fun?" And my kids go "Nevermind, I want your cup to be full."

I've found that writing is like that. I have a cup of writing energy -- and it survived through three kids, financial stress, life stress, and deaths in the family. Once I hit 5 kids, with newborn twins, and added in a promotion and my aunt's death and estate stuff, the cup ran dry for a bit.

Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels, so I've been doing better this spring -- and thanks in part to a secret writing project, I'm getting my cup full again and have been updating my story lately as a result. It's like there's only so much disruption one's mental energy can handle before it's overloaded, and I found mine and started getting better.

So, ubersoft, it WILL get better and now you know something about your threshold. That will only help in the long run.

That's definitely true. I thought I'd prepared for the move, schedule wise, and now I know how wrong I was. It was an exhausting way to learn it, though. :D

I think a certain level of distraction will throw off almost anyone, especially if you're trying hard to do a regular deadline. I struggle to hit what I feel are the "right" levels of work if I'm not at my table in my local cafe by the right time, never mind anything more severe than that. Sucks for everyone. Once a routine re-establishes itself, things are usually fine.

There are some people that thrive on chaos. I just don't know any.