It’s another cold day out there, but luckily not as bad as yesterday. It’s even beginning to brighten up just enough to look enticing, but it’s definitely a winter woollens sort of day, all the same.
Today, a lot of things are on my mind. I’ve been trying to pin down a topic for my blog post for the last hour or so, not sure of the direction I should take today. My mind’s been racing from one image to the next like my head was an old-fashioned movie projector, but eventually I realised that maybe that was what I should write my post about. Being kind to yourself on days when your brain just refuses to sit still, or co-operate, or function the way you want it to.
Yesterday, I also found my brain acting like this, and I gave myself such a hard time about it that I drove myself into a bad mood. I kept berating myself for not being able to function at 100%, so much so that I ended up standing in my own way and impeding what I was able to accomplish. I’m learning that when you’re the only person you have to get you (and keep you) motivated throughout the day, it’s really important to be on good terms with your brain. I’m not sure why my basic reaction when I don’t have all my cylinders firing first thing in the morning is to be angry with myself, but it’s the truth. So, it’s something I need to work on and help myself out with.
We all have days when things don’t go our way. Some days everything is so easy and effortless that life is a pure joy, but on other days everything we turn our hand to is a struggle. I know this is true – and not just for me – but it’s so easy to forget it. I tend to get so frustrated with my own slow reactions and fuzzy thinking on those hard days that I end up convincing myself nothing is worth the effort, which means a slow slump into unproductivity. This in turn means more chastising myself, which means the work I do produce is wrung out of me with ten times as much effort as it should have taken. It’s a completely ridiculous situation when I sit down and work through it in words. It’s a bit like shackling myself to a boulder and then expecting myself to run a marathon, and kicking myself when I can’t do it.
It would be so much better to work with your brain and not against it at times like this, wouldn’t it? To be gentle with your thought processes and try to listen to what your brain is telling you. It will lead to better productivity, as well as better mental health, because struggling to accomplish something you just can’t manage at a particular point will (at least in my case) lead to total mental strangulation. Which isn’t, as you might’ve guessed, a lot of fun.
Yesterday, I managed to write three pieces of flash fiction, as well as my blog post, and draft an idea for a fourth short piece. Because I’m trying to build up a body of work for submissions, this is important work for me. Perhaps that’s the reason why my brain tends to freeze when I try to do it, and why I react with such frustration when things start to go wobbly inside my head. But the point is, I still managed to hit my target, despite doing my best to hobble my own efforts. I know I can do the work, but it would have been accomplished with a lot less strain if I’d just taken it easy on myself.
Is this a problem for other people too? I hope I haven’t come across as a total crackpot in this post! I have a feeling, though, that this process is one which will sound familiar to a lot of people; something else I’ve learned in recent times is that you’re very rarely alone when it comes to struggling with certain things. My resolution for today is to go with the flow of my brain, and let it set the pace. I’m going to listen to it and let it give me ideas for my short pieces, instead of treating it like a galley slave and whipping it until it produces the goods. I’ll let you know how I get on!
Happy Tuesday – I hope all is flowing perfectly for you today, whatever you’re doing.