Out of Control?

I don’t mind telling you that this past week has been harder to keep a hold of than a fistful of water. My writing productivity had slagged, and there were a couple of days where I didn’t get up to write in the morning, and I wasn’t in the headspace , or had the time to write in the evening.

I found myself looking ahead to the weekend – it’s always the weekend – for the chance to get life back under control. “Just ride it out, till then,” I’d say. “Then you’ll get back on top of things.”

Some of the folks in my writing group jokingly refer to me as a machine when talking about how much I can get done. I confess that I like that – if only for the outside recognition that I’m really working hard at this.

But I’m not a machine. I’m drafting this by hand, and my fingers are starting to tingle in the early stages of going numb. My knee is bugging me if I sit still for too long – or if I move for too long – can’t get a break there, and my shoulder is giving me grief – I don’t know what I did to cause that. Getting older is a drag sometimes.

What does any of this have to do with Writing? Well the numbing fingers and the aforementioned, grief-giving shoulder are directly connected to the physical act of writing. All of it, I’m willing to bet, has had an impact on the quality of sleep I’ve been getting lately, and that’s had an effect on the writing landscape. But what is this about control?

Naturally, I can’t just switch off the pain. That’s not the kind of control that I’m talking about – and I wouldn’t want it anyway. I’m self aware enough to know that would be pretty bad long term.

What I do have control over allows me to nudge things once in a while. In between the previous paragraph and this one, I set my pen down and shook feeling back into my fingers.

Now some of you may be asking – go ahead, I’m asking it of myself as well – why the heck didn’t I just stop, until I was capable of starting again?

The short answer is that I wanted to keep going. I wanted to push through and get this done. “You’re not the boss of me,” I’m saying to my numbing fingers as I shake feeling back into them. “Get moving.”

I’ve got that kind of control but, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t want that kind of control either. Not really. The finger thing is probably not getting worse by any significant increments, but I’m probably not doing myself any significant favors either.

The knee thing? That’s been bugging me for weeks. And I have been addressing that. I’m not sitting too long, and I’m not pushing it by moving too long either. That’s the kind of control that I want. The ability to recognize the need to heal (or recover) and adjust.

Why is that so hard when it comes to Writing? It’s not like the warning signs aren’t there. True, those signs aren’t as “To the Point” as physical pain, but you know when you’re feeling them none-the-less. That thing that you were so excited to work on has become a slog. You find yourself needing more “Down Time,” either in the form of sleep, or consuming what others have created, rather than creating on your own.

I think that part of it is that we’re all so connected today and, statistically (heh, look at me using that word, like I could statistics my way out of a wet sack) if you’ve got even 500 people in your social streams that you’re following, the chances that one or more of them having some kind of success to announce is pretty high. So you’re comparing their external situation to your internal one, and that’s not the same thing.

I think another part of it is self-expectation and internal pressure. “I did this yesterday, I should be able to do this today, right?”

Wrong. Even machines need maintenance. So do you. So do I.

And when I fail to recognize that, is when life seems like it’s getting out of control.

But the good news is that it isn’t out of control – and it doesn’t rely on the arrival of the weekend. At any time, I can assess where I’m at, what I need, and make changes accordingly.

And, yes, there may be some residual frustration. I feel that, myself. But that’s short-term thinking. If I don’t take the time to prevent wear out, I’ll have to make the time for repair.

So I am going to encourage you to take a look inward, consider how you’re doing, and do what you need to do for you.

See you on Thursday!

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