About a month ago, I wrote about how different seasons of the year can affect your writing schedule. And about how learning to accept the realities of the time you have available in this particular season helps you to get things done.
That acceptance can help you to focus on what you *can* do instead of worrying about what can’t be done right now.
That’s good for your mental health – and your writing – and instead of being an impediment, it can be an impetus to either try new things or to get really good at the things you are currently able to do.
This advice applies just as well to the ‘seasons’ of your life.
The seasons of your life may not be as easy to identify as the seasons of the year (although that can get a bit tricky, too) but I’m sure you recognize that there are times (weeks, months, years) that have a certain pattern and rhythm to them that either fosters or inhibits certain types of creative work.
When you are in a challenging ‘season’ of your life, you don’t have to give up on the idea of creative work but you might have to choose one type of activity over another or, perhaps, expand your idea of what you consider to be creative work.
The ‘Right’ Time
I read an article a few years ago by a woman who always felt bad for not having time each day to prepare the mythical family dinner – the carefully crafted meal that features a loving family around a table eating nourishing and healthful foods. Instagram and Pinterest-worthy.
You know the kind I mean.
The article wasn’t just about her guilt though, it was about how she encountered a woman at the playground who had taken a more realistic approach to family meals. The woman had recognized that at this point in her life those carefully-crafted meals were out of her range. Instead, she made a meal plan that combined ready-made elements and healthy extras in a way that let her concentrate on the main goals of the project at hand – nourishing meals and loving family time. She recognized that her stress about it was not going to make the situation any better so she took a less stressful approach.
The author of the article was inspired and took measures to reduce her stress regarding her own family’s meals.
Her concept of the ‘right time’ was very helpful. It guided me to ask myself what I could be focusing on at that moment for my writing instead of feeling bad about what wasn’t getting done. I asked myself: What IS it the right time to be doing?
Maybe it wasn’t the time to consider big projects.
Perhaps editing my novel wasn’t a good goal at that moment.
Maybe I should stick with short stories, or even flash fiction, because I could get a quick, measurable, sense of completion.
I could even choose to spend time sending them out into the world.
Matching Projects To Our Energy And Capacity
I liked the reminder that I could match my projects to my time, my energy level, and my capacity.
And since my time, energy and capacity will change (and have changed) as my life changes, it’s not unlike the changes that come with the seasons of the year.
Just as I have different capacity in summer than I do in winter, I had a different capacity when my kids were small than I do now that they are teenagers. I have a different capacity for creative work when I have a huge business writing contract than when I have a few smaller jobs to take care of. And, if, for instance, I have a sick relative, then that season might not be a good time to set strict writing deadlines for myself.
So, perhaps you could look at what season it is in your own life and make decisions (and create expectations) accordingly.
Some Questions For This Season Of Your Life
You don’t have to have a name or an overarching theme for this season in your life but it can be helpful if you identify what time and energy you may have available. Once you know what sorts of spaces there are in your day, you can make decisions about what kind of creative projects to undertake right now.
Start with questions like these:
- How much time do I have right now for creative work?
- What takes up the majority of my time?
- Where is my mental energy going?
- What do I feel like I *should* be doing?
- Is there something else that I want to be doing?
- What creative work feels doable or joyful right now?
- Is limited time or energy for my creative work causing me frustration? If so, what, specifically, is getting on my nerves?
Then move on to questions like:
- Can I free up time or energy in any way?
- What sorts of creative projects fit into the current rhythm (chaos?) of my days?
- Can I break my project down into smaller pieces?
- Is this a satisfying use of my energy right now?
- Is this the “right” season in my life for this project?
- If so, is there a different, good-but-less-than-perfect way that I can approach it? (Like the mother with the pre-prepared meals)
Be Patient With Yourself
No matter how you answer these questions, I hope that they help you to see your current life season in a new light. I hope they help you feel a little less frustrated with your progress in your creative life.
No matter what this season looks like for you, there are creative possibilities within it – even if they just involve making lists of ideas to bring to life later.