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L is for Loafing

If you regularly read my blog, you’d have noticed that March was a little quieter than usual. If you follow my social media accounts, you’d have noticed that I barely made any noise.

Why?

As I’ve mentioned on the first Sunday of the month, I had a bit of a problem.

*On a side note: I’m staring into the abyss that is burnout and the abyss is staring back. As a result, there won’t be any folklore posts this month. There will, however, be the regular Sunday and Tuesday postings. And if you need a new story to read, I did update my Stories on Scrolls book on Wattpad with a new dark fantasy short story (check the sidebar for the link).*

So I did what I had to do: I watched a ton of movies without knowing their genre at the outset, I did a bit of sewing, adopted a couple of chicks (I call them Team Arrow) and played a lot of Need for Speed on my PlayStation2 (yeah, I love the “vintage” feel of it).

Aren’t they cute? This is where they sleep – making a mess of dinner and all – and in the day they’re outside doing chick things.

If you’re not South African, the title of this post might be a bit confusing.

Loafing: to loiter or lounge around in an idle way (Collins English Dictionary).

Lekker: South African slang pleasing or enjoyable (Collins English Dictionary).

Another way to put this: goofing off is good for you.

When you’re running on empty, you need a vacation. Which is why I only made notes for the rewriting I was supposed to finish in March – shutting down entirely seems to be impossible – and published posts on my blog that I’ve already written and kept for a rainy day. One of which,  BTW, I rewrote on request and it was published on the Writer’s Gambit on the 12th of April.

That constant state of anxiety disappeared, the nightmares lessened (you know, the one where you’re entirely unable to read or write and yet you’re a writer) and my pulse went down from 110 bpm to 70bpm.

Suddenly I have renewed energy, I’ve figured out things about my novel that should have been clear before and I’m happy.

So how to get there without staring into the abyss first?

Doing things besides writing is a good place to start. It frees up the mind to catch up to the plot twists and character shifts the subconscious had already planned out.

My list of top activities:

  • Sewing (actually thinking about anything else will get you a needle through your finger).
  • Gardening (various dangers lurk beneath the underbrush: while you’re weeding ants/spiders/rats/snakes will contemplate you for lunch and will succeed if you’re not paying attention).
  • Exercising (if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, you might end up in the hospital after falling off your stationary bike – or a cliff).
  • Reading (a good book will need your full attention or you will have to start all over again).
  • Playing video games (crashing your Aston Martin or driving it off a cliff mid-race isn’t fun at all, so pay attention).
  • Cooking (burned food isn’t appealing and slicing your fingers while chopping vegetables can be more than unpleasant).

This can be useful if, after having written everything you can for that new novel, you’re feeling stuck/blocked/meh/burned out.

You might want to punch through the wall keeping you from writing, but that can make things worse. (Trust me, that’s how I got into a staring contest with the abyss that is burnout.)

Rather, go for a walk. A Stanford study shows that walking improves creativity. Or, if you don’t like walking, do one of the things above. And if you’re truly feeling meh, cleaning the house, doing the dishes and figuring out where the laundry should go (yes, the washing machine is that thing in the corner and ooh, that’s a closet) can be totally appealing and even rewarding.

So instead of wearing your million hour workweek as a badge of honour, take care of yourself. Theresa Barker has this excellent “be present in the moment” thing she’s running on her blog to help reduce stress.

How do you relax and recharge? Any tips you’d like to share?

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