My Tool Box

My schedule during these few months of writing is pretty unstructured, and this is both a blessing and a curse. On Monday, I found myself feeling tired and icky, and ended up taking not one but two naps during the day. Now, I should be clear: I don’t have anything against naps. But for me, some naps are delicious and refreshing and others are a means of escaping from having to face up to things I would rather avoid. My Monday naps were of the latter variety.

So I decided that I need more structure. Gentle structure, for sure. But structure. I say ‘gentle structure’ because part of my struggle with depression is that I am extremely hard on myself, and sometimes too much structure can actually be a problem for me. I set overly ambitious goals–and plan out every minute of the day–and then feel ashamed when I fail to complete the work I have set for myself. (When I write “finish novel” on my to do list for the day, it is not a very good sign.) So I want structure, but I want a new sort of structure. I want a structure that leaves room for rest, and quiet, and play.

I have rediscovered The Artist’s Way, by American artist, teacher, and visionary Julia Cameron, and this book is proving to be very helpful. In The Artist’s Way, Cameron shares the creative practices she developed to free up her own creative energies. It can be a powerful tool for artists and non-artists alike, helping all of us to think and live more creatively and more fully. Today, I started my day with an exercise that Cameron recommends called the Morning Pages, which is three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing. Then, I went for a brisk walk in the post-rain sunshine, which left me feeling enlivened and rejuvenated. Fresh air can do wonders.

Another tool I have found is SuperBetter, an online game designed to help you build up resilience and achieve your personal health goals. SuperBetter has helped me to organize my efforts to empower myself–personally and as a writer–and I find that it is a really neat resource for all kinds of health and self-development goals. It is based around the idea of turning the personal struggles we each face into an adventure, complete with “quests” and “bad guys”. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to focus your efforts toward a particular goal!

That’s all for now.

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