Jump Off The Hamster Wheel

I am addicted to productivity. There. I admitted it. I’m either making a list of things I need to accomplish. Actually doing things I need to accomplish. Checking off things I’ve accomplished…or feeling guilty over not doing the very things I should accomplish.  😊 My therapist told me I needed to work on letting go of all this. Anyone else there with me? So when I planned my writing retreat for this month, I though it would be just like all the other writing retreats I’ve been on. The goal has always been to get as many words as humanly possible during the period of time while I’m gone. After all, how else can I justify spending that time away from my family and using my precious PTO from the day job? Titled retreat time with pictures of a house, a fountain, and seating area for writing But that’s not how it actually worked out this time. I did get writing done…but this time I actually spent time doing, well, nothing. And I’m not a nothing kind of girl!!! But my brain simply wouldn’t focus on the story. Or at least, not the writing of it. I did some planning. I did some plotting. But none of it was measured by productivity. And that was a little weird, to be honest. Usually my brain is going 90 to nothing. So I found this disconcerting but possibly a step in the right direction. A chance to let my brain work out whatever it needed to. And it helped me come home with a better perspective on some things. A determination to enjoy the small things (which isn’t easy for me, but I’m trying). I guess all of that quiet, thinking time just reinforced some of the things I’ve been trying to come to grips with over the last few months. white hamster on a hamster wheel I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with mental health this year, hoping that others will realize they aren’t alone and we can all help each other. How do you help quiet your mind? What’s your favorite fun thing that gets your brain off the hamster wheel?   Take care, Dani Don't forget to check out my Secrets of Covington Corner series! HAUNTED HERITAGE is out this month! Amazon B&N Kobo Apple books Goodreads--Add To Your TBR List!

Reading Goals, Anyone?

I have a confession to make: I’m not a reader. Let me clarify: I used to be a reader. But between the day job, struggling to get words, and overwhelming stress, I lost my love of it somewhere. Every time I thought about picking up a book, I just turned away. Reading Then I took a class called Write Better Faster by Becca Syme in an attempt to break through my writer’s block. There I learned about my top 5 Strengths (Clifton Strengths testing). Lo and behold—all of them had to do with INPUT. Basically, my brain runs off of learning things. I have a craving for knowledge and am rejuvenated by the learning process. Except I’d stopped that process in its tracks by not reading much at all. The occasional non-fiction book or magazine was the only exception. No wonder my brain has basically stopped working! Books, Reader goal After taking Becca’s class, I started making an effort to read more, but it was haphazard. I would start fiction books, but not be able to finish them, no matter how interesting they were. I had better luck with non-fiction, which I could let sit for a few days, then come back to them and eventually finish. I’m not entirely sure why this was so hard, but I have a few suspicions.
  1. The issues going on in my brain related to the writer’s block made it extremely difficult to focus. What little “focus power” I had went to my day job and writing tasks, so there wasn’t much left for something I viewed as less important: the reading (boy, did I have that backwards).
  2. There is an idea I’ve been dedicated to for years: refilling the well. But until this very stressful time, I didn’t put it into practice with as much dedication as I should have. Then again, I didn’t know that part of what I needed to fill that well was knowledge! We often think of refilling our wells, or “self-care”, as things like taking baths and having our nails done. But our strengths give us certain needs that, when fulfilled, renew our energy and our enthusiasm far faster than anything else could. I’ve experienced this first hand!
Slowly working on this issue has helped, and I can feel that as I “input” information through reading, my brain actually loosens up and works better, ideas flow more freely. This is me working with my strengths and giving my brain the type of “food” it wants. But I’ve decided for this year to dedicate myself to this process even more. I’ve given myself a reading goal for this year. One non-fiction book and one fiction story every month. Compared to the several books a week I used to read just a couple of years ago, it doesn’t seem like much, but I’m working within a much busier life than I was then. And lingering issues from my struggles with writer’s block. Mostly, I know myself. If I don’t give myself some kind of goal, it will never happen. Productivity, Reading I’ve started my non-fiction goal with Paused to Prolific by K Webster. This is a new release that dovetails nicely with my own focus issues. It is designed to help you “write faster, stay focused, and avoid burnout”. I found it very easy to digest because the chapters are short and tightly focused, with a “coffee break” at the end to help brainstorm ideas for taking the information and putting it into practice. Webster has a conversational, humorous style that helped me relate well to the information, and I’ll never look at a squirrel the same again! What kind of reading goals do you set for yourself? Are they formal goals, or just lists of books you’d like to read? Dani