I hope life is treating you well. Aside from a bout of “spring fever,” things are good here in my neck of the woods. Now that the weather is mild and sunny, it is difficult to stay inside and write. Most of this week has been spent outdoors and lunching with friends. Then when I got home, my computer sat accusingly on my desk, bidding me to finish the final three chapters of my work-in-progress. Although the mind was willing, the spirit was not.
At first I felt guilty for ignoring my characters and the world I left in limbo. Then I remembered the obstacles I recently overcame and the balance I’ve achieved in my life. Although my story is difficult to share because it shows my vulnerable side, I decided there may be one person out there who can learn from my experience. Over the last year, I have dedicated most of my days to my novel. When I wasn’t writing I was thinking about my characters. Little else mattered. I turned down lunch dates with friends, declined professional opportunities and essentially cut the world out of my life. Don’t get me wrong, my family has always come first, so my evenings and weekends were devoted to them. Otherwise, I would have had no human interaction.
After about a year of self-induced solitary confinement, I started feeling overwhelmed and blue. Since I wrote from home, I did not put much effort into my appearance and it deteriorated fast. I went from wearing a cute bob cut to a ponytail. Makeup was a thing of the past and my wardrobe extended to a different color sweat suit for each day of the week. I gained about fifteen pounds and I felt haggard and old. The words stopped flowing and somewhere along the way, my dream job of writing had turned into a chore.
If not for my son’s wake up call, who knows how long I would have continued on this downward spiral. One afternoon, my nine year old son commented to his brothers that I had switched up my wardrobe. He said, “Look guys, mom’s wearing jeans instead of sweats. Is it a special holiday or something?” Although I did not appreciate my son’s sarcasm, his comment caused me to take a step back and look at myself.
I realized my life my lacked BALANCE. Too much work and no play made Andrea a dull girl. I decided to do something about it. First, I went to the beauty parlor and got my hair cut in a reverse bob. Then, I joined Weight Watchers and started an exercise routine. I also joined a writer’s group and reconnected with my friends. Last, but certainly not least, I look in the mirror every morning and say, “Today will be a good day.”
The power of positive thinking combined with a few minor life changes has made a world of difference for me. Since January, I have lost thirteen pounds. I’m three chapters away from completing the first draft of my work-in-progress. However, I have limited my writing time to four days a week and I am happy to say my novel has become a joy again.
Lesson learned here? Although an author’s need to create may be strong, it is important to maintain a balanced perspective. Writing is a solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Exercise, enjoy hobbies and most of all, keep family and friends close. Have any of you had a similar experience? If so, I’d be interested to know how you overcame the obstacles. Until next time, happy writing.