Coping with Delays

Neil Gaiman says that a successful writer must maintain at least two of the following three attributes: they must be good at what they do; they must be a nice person; they must be punctual about deadlines.

My original plan was to be good and punctual, so I wouldn’t have to be nice…

Then I took part-time work.

Granted, I took awesome part-time work.  I receive real, actual dollars in exchange for drinking, selling, and learning about tea.  It’s a writers dream come true.

But it’s also retail.

And I’m coming off a year of fellowship sabbatical: hermit-like living, where I talked to more trees than people.

So, that means that by the end of my shift, especially if the store is busy, I am worn the hell out.  My brain is mush from balancing simultaneous transactions, my feet are sore, and I’ve used up a month’s worth of conversation.  I come home completely incapable of producing further facial expressions, force myself to eat something, and count down the hours before bed.

Now, having been a teacher, I know that I’ll get better at extroversion over time, build up stamina.  And being an organization-fiend, I’ve already shifted my schedule to accommodate for the way I feel after work–pushing my mindless and restorative tasks to the end of the day and allocating my mornings and days off for editing, forest walks, cooking, and supplemental exercise to strengthen myself for a day on my feet.

But it takes a while to really sink into a new schedule, and in the meantime, as I adjust, my editing speeds have plummeted.

It doesn’t help that I’m at the point where I must read all my dialogue and narrative aloud.  I’m constantly going into or coming out of a day of chatter, and so the last thing I want to do is chatter even more at home.  Plus, it’s hard to judge whether or not your dialogue is convincing when you’re fresh out of emotion.

So, what do you do when faced with these sorts of delays?

You live in them.

Not with them…in them.

You embrace the fact that you have a job when many people do not, and that you like the work that you’re doing, and the way it enables you to buy groceries, books, and fuel.  You fight through the fatigue and enjoy the sensation of becoming stronger, learning new skillsets, and meeting new people–a necessary, observational element to writing.  And you write/edit when you can, relishing the moments when your mind is clear and you have the time, rather than bemoaning the lack of progress, or panicking.

You take steps, and look forward to the moment where you round the corner and start running again.






Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

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