Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Life Off the Rails: Standing Firm vs Being Flexible

 This week's topic of "When Life Gets In The Way: Dealing with a schedule for writing when the world goes off the rails" boils down to the benefits of rigidity versus flexibility...and not in the toe-touching sense. 

 I am a creature of habit. I love my daily ritual. I am so set in my ways that an atypical morning freaks out the dog. Thus, you might justifiably believe I'd lose my mind if my routine was broken. Surprise! I don't. It's life. Shit happens. Routines, no matter how hectic, are a luxury. 

Change the things you can control. Get through the rest. Sometimes, "the rest" comes with pleasant surprises and benefits you didn't imagine. Other times, "the rest" is an exhausting crapstorm with no end in sight. During those endurance marathons, your mindset is yours to control. If it's not, then don't be ashamed to acquire professional help. Your wellbeing comes before everything else. Suffering is not a requirement to be an artist, no matter what pop culture wants us to think. 

Yeah, but what if there's no hope of ever returning to normal? What if your beloved routine is shot to hell and never coming back? My dear, dear readers. Make new routines. Remember the habits of once upon a time fondly, and establish to new ones. Even if new ones start with a can of Lysol in the morning and end with hosing off your Wellies in the evening. 

In whatever new normal you find yourself, take stock of where you are, what you can control, and what you actually want. Figure out your priorities. Rank them. Schedule time to attend to those priorities. Allow for flexibility. Permit yourself to say "No" when others try to make their problems your emergencies. Cut ties with emotional vampires. Remember "fun" is a good thing. So is rest. Et voila, new routine. 

If writing is a priority, then treat it as such. Be prepared to let other things go to make room for your creative pursuit. Delegate, if that's an option, or do without. It's okay if there is something or someone more important than writing, just be honest with yourself about how those higher priorities will impact your writing. When it comes to accommodating others, recall their expectations are relevant only if you want them to be (though criminal neglect will land your butt in jail, and that's a new normal you probably want to avoid). 

Sometimes you have to be a hardass when establishing or adjusting your boundaries. A moment of discomfort reinforcing those boundaries is a price worth the peace of existing within them. Remember, you are in charge of taking care of yourself. There are times to be rigid and times to be flexible. Teach yourself to know when to bend and when to stand firm. You gain nothing by beating up yourself whenever life goes off the rails.

Be good to yourself.