Not Taking Life Too Seriously


Another quiet week of editing my novel and doing my best to avoid the (currently) blazing sun in England. I don’t shy away from the sun because of any Dracula-esque motivations, I’m just more of a Hobbit hole sort of person. You can keep your oppressive heat, buzzing insects and evenings that never bloody end. Give me drizzle, grey skies, and long nights. Biting cold, thick blankets, and the dancing light of log fires.

It’s taking a lot of willpower to keep my brain focused on editing when all it wants to do is brainstorm new ideas. Like meditation and habitual smartphone checking show so aptly, brains cling to any thought or distraction they can to avoid doing any actual work or spending time alone with themselves for even just a few seconds. I’ve already had to stop myself planning out my next few books instead of doing what I’m supposed to. I wrote a first draft of my second book last November during National Novel Writing Month, which is great in theory, but it completely killed my momentum when I returned back to my first. I learned then that I need to focus on one project at a time if I ever want to finish, especially something as massive and time consuming as a novel.

Here’s a collection quotes I stumbled across earlier about not taking life too seriously, something I try to remind myself of as often as possible. After all, we are just psychotic apes clinging to a rock that’s hurtling through a mostly empty void. Once you remember the big picture, all those little worries that seemed so important ten seconds ago suddenly fall in to perspective.

Photo by Daniel Peckham licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

4 thoughts on “Not Taking Life Too Seriously”

  1. Brainstorm those new ideas then get back to editing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a butterfly mind: it flits from one thing to another, settles for a while, then flits on. If I force it to stay in one place for too long, either it gets listless or it gets surly. So I’ve learned to work with my butterfly mind. Not to mention — my ideas, insights, and break-throughs on one project often come when I’m thinking about or working on something else (or walking in the woods with my dog).

    1. That sounds pretty accurate to me. Also explains why focusing on large projects for extended periods of time becomes so difficult. My brain just turns in to an angsty teenager and wants to do anything else. Funny how I’ve lived with my mind for so long, yet I have surprisingly little idea how to work with it. I have no idea how you manage to be a full time editor and then find the energy/creativity to write as well.

      Instead of getting swept away on a wave of brainstorming, I’ve taken to jotting down quick notes when ideas comes to me. That way I can store the ideas for later and not get too distracted from the work I need to finish. It’s the best compromise I’ve found so far.

      1. I have to write first thing in the morning, especially when I’m in first-draft mode or doing revisions that involve structure. If I don’t, my mind is pulled every which way by work or other commitments or (don’t tell anybody) infuriating stuff I read on Facebook.

        I totally get that angsty teenager. 😉 I’m currently editing a book on how to write a master’s thesis. The author advises students to schedule regular breaks rather than writing till they give up in exhaustion or frustration. This way you usually stop in the middle of something and are eager to get back to it, instead of never wanting to look at the stupid thing again. I think I’ll ask her if I can quote her in my blog!

        1. I’ve learned that I’m utterly unable to edit in the mornings, whereas creativity and writing comes slightly easier. Then for some reason, about half way through the day a switch flicks in my mind and it reverses. Happily, I stay well away from Facebook and social media in general since I have enough distractions pulling my attention around already. Having a platform tends make people think their opinion is worth more than it actually is, resulting in (like you say) some pretty infuriating and idiotic statements. I figure it’s best to leave them to it rather than subject myself to the hassle.

          I’ll have to give regular breaks a try when I’m working, it makes more sense than writing to exhaustion. I think it was Hemingway who said, ‘The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck.’ Seems like advice worth taking.

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