Hot August Nights

Here we are in August already. Amazing. Seems like it was just January a minute ago and now we’re nearing the end of the year and the onset of 2013. Or is this a comedy of errors? Wasn’t it just a year or two ago we were all worried about Y2K? On the one hand, days are long and hot and there seems no end in sight. On the other hand, school starts in a few weeks (didn’t the school year just end a week or so ago?) and if we blink a time or two it’ll be Thanksgiving. What?

Proof that everything is influenced by personal perception and that opinions can rise and fall with the outdoor thermometer. It’s best not to be moved by them. However, every writer’s life is a roller coaster of sorts and this time of year in particular, it can be a really bumpy ride. Our New Year’s resolutions have lost their shine and many have been abandoned altogether, leaving behind that hopeless feeling of yet another failure. The list of things we’d planned to have accomplished by this time has grown enough that we’re no longer comfortable looking at it so we spend more time on Facebook where we can Like and be Liked. The decision is no longer how do we catch up, but what do we do now since there’s no way we can do it all by the end of the year.

In the background of my mind I hear Rob Thomas and  Carlos Santana serenading me with that deceptively titled old favorite, Smooth.

Or maybe it’s Neil Diamond singing about hot August nights:

I wonder if it’s time to tilt the office chair back and close my eyes for a quick accidental nap or if this day deserves the get-up, march-to-the-couch-and-lie-down on purpose variety. The point? We all have these days, and frankly, just pretending that we don’t doesn’t change a thing. What to do?

Like so many self-employed people (including moi) writers tend to be “on duty” 24/7 with little relief. Continuing that way with no end in sight will lead down the road to total burnout. The cure? Or more accurately, the Prevention? Scheduling. Oxymoronic? Not really. Not if it’s done right.

Just like it’s important to schedule regular writing time, and if you’re excelling in time management, a set-aside time for promoting your work, you need to pencil in some regularly scheduled YOU time. Call it R & R. Maybe that stands for Rest and Relaxation, or for Research and Rejuvenation. Maybe it’s a day on the couch reading a book you don’t have to read, or taking your grandkids to the zoo. Oh wait, I forgot it’s August. Maybe it’s an appointment at a spa nearby, or a trip to the nearest Natatorium. Museums and libraries are usually cool (temperature wise) this time of year. Movie theaters aren’t as appealing today, but they will be again. I like to go to the lake. Even when it’s burning hot outside, it somehow seems cooler there.

Whatever you do, make sure it feeds your soul. After all, what kind of writer will you be if you have no soul? As much as the project manager in me believes in planning and scheduling and essentially making every day count, life is too short to always be working and feeling like it’s never enough. So especially in August, pause. Take a day a month, or a day a week (gasp!) and just live. Do something that matters to you even if nobody will ever read it. Enjoy. I promise, the lists will still be there when you get back.

PJ

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5 thoughts on “Hot August Nights

  1. Earl Staggs says:

    You convinced me, PJ. I’m going to take a nap now.

  2. Pat Reid says:

    I think Earl has an excellent idea. I am not a writer but I find that I’m making lists of things I need to do and not actually doing them.

  3. pjnunn says:

    I know I can always count on you, Earl! Ooh Pat, me too sometimes. Makes me feel more productive to have a list. Ah summer!

    • radine says:

      WONDERFUL, PJ. Amusing, thoughtful, helpful. Lots of insight into the lives of writers–which, of course, I would expect you to have. Right along with this, may I suggest a visit to my blog, http://radine.wordpress.com to read HOW DO YOU DEFINE CONTENTMENT? There have been some interesting comments on various Facebook groups where I am a member (including Dairy Hollow, Ozark Creative Writers, and Spunky Seniors). Springboard for this blog post came from a book, “Streams of Contentment,” by Robert J. Wicks, (who made his way from Vietnam horror to contentment). I add my own thoughts and ask for yours.

  4. Once a week for me. I made an executive decision a few weeks ago when I found myself on the computer most of every day. If we’re going to be self-employed, we have to learn to think “I’m the boss of me,” and take care of ourselves. Great post, Patti!

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