Recently, I had a major epiphany which has impacted my writing production and quality. To many people, it’ll be a “duh” moment, while to others it might just be useful. When my mom died, it was the start of a major decent for me. I had been heading for a breakdown, but her passing hastened it. Something in me broke. It wasn’t something I asked for, in fact, I told the doctors I went to that they needed to find a way to fix it. My consistency and concentration was shot to hell. No longer could I sit for hours on end and write. In fact, I had a hard time being able to write and IM. (Can you hear the surprised gasps from people who know me well? Yes, I bet you can!)
What happened is that when I had my trauma (we won’t go into details), I used a special skill that trauma victims acquire to cope. Thing is, it’s meant for short term. But it was so damn useful; I kept it for way longer than I should have. It meant that Cyn never learned how to really deal with her ADD. ( 😛 This is me feeling smug about how I avoided the issue for years!) Then when the breakdown hit and broke that skill, I then had to learn how to cope with ADD and relearn to cope with things I had never really dealt with in a proper manner. Thus, all my lovely abilities went kaput! ( 👿 This is me feeling really cranky and crappy!)
There was even a point while in therapy I asked if I should quit writing because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t be consistent much less even put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Then once I was there, I was so easily distracted it was easier to play games then to write. It took me a while to realize that I needed to play games to learn focusing skills. I also had to learn to read again for longer stretches of time so I would be able to write and read in combination, something I could only do for a couple of minutes before I’d get distracted by the littlest of things.
How does this relate to consistency? Easy. Everything I did was to get back to the constant I had before. But I forgot one major thing- even consistency changes. Why? What is constant for sea-level isn’t the same at mile high. It’s all about being honest about yourself and your needs. It’s something I needed to do. When my therapist asked me one day about three weeks ago, when I was feeling better on things and I had started writing again, though haphazardly, to chart my writing—to see what my consistency was- I thought he was being sarcastic. But then he said something that made the light go off in my head- brightly. He said, “Don’t see if you keep to the pace you think you should be at. Find the rhythm that comes to you naturally. See if there’s a pace and balance to it. If there is, see the pattern. You might find there’s a constant to it that you can make work for you.”
Those were the words that brought the epiphany like nothing else had. It’s funny in some ways because I sit here tonight and I played, I went to a chat of a big NYT famous author (one I admire and was just wowed to get to ask questions), and wrote this blog. Funny thing about tonight- I accomplished a lot. Though my writing word count might not show a high score- I’ve done what I know I needed to do. Why? Because yesterday I plugged in over six thousand words. Tomorrow, I’ll probably work on a story that is mostly complete but needs to have the last quarter done. If I only write one thousand or three thousand, it’ll be good. Then the day after that, I’ll press to write at least three thousand or more words on my new story. I found my constant. Celebration was happening! One thing I’ll definitely say, do not discount taking workshops, they do help when you’re stalled out. (Savvy Authors helped me so much!)
What I found out is that whenever I forced myself to write hard, I fell apart for one to two days after. Then on the third day, I started to get stronger so I could sort of write somewhat. If I pushed, I could do somewhat what I did the first day, but maybe slightly less. Overall, if I threw in some fun on one of those days- like I did tonight, write a little bit, then I found I rebounded a bit easier. It really did take time to think things through, to allow myself time to rejuvenate myself and my creativity. I didn’t have the ability that I used to have and I needed to mourn the loss. Yet, I discovered that in some ways, I had grown as an author too. My needs as a writer had deepened in new areas. There were new genres to explore footstep by footstep. But it all began by finding something I needed back in my life- consistency.
Consistency is a fluid thing—it changes as your life does. What is constant for you is not what is for someone else. What is my constant might make another person feel lazy or feel like they’re running a marathon. But for right now, it’s working for me. I might need to tweak it a bit. I might be pushing a bit here and there, but that’s my nature. Yet, I’ve given myself permission to step back and take time away if I need it. It’s one of those moments in my life that brought me happiness. I might have a disability that I’m learning to control, but I now have a weapon in my arsenal. I’ve got a constant that makes me feel successful and accomplished- which in turn helps me to do more. What more could an author ask for?