The oddest way to motivate yourself

I’ve found myself with an unexpected week away from work this week; E has had to go to her parents for a few days and I need to get the kids to and from school (plus the whole feeding, bathing, talking to them thing) so I took the week off work. Believe me; I really needed my arm twisting. It comes off the back of especially hard week at the office, and when Friday rolled around I looked at the week ahead with an odd sense of foreboding. I had a week with nothing to do, which surely meant I had to write, right? So much unfilled time, just begging to be filled with more work. Being an unpublished writer is entirely based on self-motivation. Nobody is ever going to tell me to sit down and write. I have to do that myself.

I’ll admit that I’ve been really struggling recently with the enthusiasm to keep going. Writing a novel is like a marathon, and just like a marathon once you get into the last mile you start to really feel it. The last mile is the same length as all the others, sure, but you try telling your lungs and your legs that. Now that I’m on the third draft I’m well and truly into the last lap (I hope) and boy do my writing legs keep telling me about it.

So I toyed with the idea that maybe, just maybe, I would actually have a week off. No opening a computer unless it was to look at pictures of kittens or some such. I was reading another author’s blog post about mental health and writing last week, and how we writers need to really watch out for signs that we need to step away, and it really resonated. Last week I came home utterly exhausted every single day, and what I probably needed was not to be trying to work out whether the gender balance in my book is out (it is) and whether my timelines stack up correctly (they don’t).

So I made that decision. A full week off. I enjoyed my weekend safe in the knowledge that I was about to have a full week of rest, telly watching and finally getting round to reading the Dark Tower series. It was lovely. So lovely in fact, that I didn’t give a moment’s thought after dropping the kids off this morning to opening the laptop and getting straight back to work.

Huh.

It’s amazing what a few days of taking the pressure off yourself can do. Now I’m looking at this week afresh, ready to get stuck in and make some real progress with the third draft. I’m also starting to think about a lot of the questions that have been raised so far on the Self-Publishing Podcast, which I’m slowly working my way through. So here’s to taking a break.