Sunday, December 5, 2010

Re-entry: a plethora of cliches or The Lesson

It a somewhat typical Dot-style, the leaving of NaNoLand and re-entry into the Rest Of My Life was not the smoothest transition. This is something I'm "working on," as the saying goes. And it's true - it's just that "working on" is somewhat vague and could imply some resistance to change. Which isn't true.

What is true is that from the time I realize something to when I can implement the change is sometimes longer than I would like. For example, if I realize that the schedule I have planned out for the next two-plus months has a major flaw - such as only being able to get a maximum of four hours of sleep twice a week - I can make some changes toward the goal of increasing my sleep on a regular basis, but, because of where I work, it's not an overnight change.

What is also true is that some of the slowness to change is because of my own work ethic. Another phrase that is overused and misused. But it fits. Yes, I could give back some of the work I have scheduled. Yes. Some people would. But that is not good in my opinion. I took the jobs or the shifts and I could have said no at the time. But I thought it would work or that I had figured out how to make it work.

So I kept them. It was the right thing to do. And as soon as I found out that it wasn't working, I made a change at the next possible time according to my ethics.

Then there were those things that I couldn't change because, well, I made a commitment that I didn't want to back out on - such as the play I'm interpreting this coming Thursday.

The transition from NaNovember to December was quick, without a breather. And that was a mistake. I've been chasing my tail since early Wednesday morning and set myself up for a set-back of sleep and inability to swim and general overload for a few days. This was not a good plan. But by the time I realized it, it was too late. And in just over a week this heavy schedule will be done and I will have a few days off of all work. Yay.

A good thing in this transition is that I have managed to keep a few writing dates. Only one last week. But I have two scheduled this week. And at least one long one later this month, with the hope of scheduling more time.

And this time, I think I actually learned the lesson and, while I can't make any major changes right now, I did make some in how I'm setting up my winter term schedule. I will be teaching two classes in the interpreting program, so that gives me an easy test period. As usual, I will have a couple months of the new schedule in place before I *get* to the schedule to see if it does work. But I have hope it will be successful.

My goal is to get my work hours more under control as far as eliminating - or at least reducing - what I've come to call the quick turnaround: where I end up with four or less hours of sleep by the time I get home from one job and have to get up to get to the next. (A note that these quick times mean going home and straight to bed and getting up those three or four hours later for a quick departure - no leisurely hours of unwinding or getting ready.) Ok - I want to eliminate them; but I know me and the reality is that once in a while it will happen because sometimes the doctor or the something I have to do has no other time - not everyone runs on my late night schedule.

In this new plan, in addition to putting sleep into my schedule, I have included time to exercise and I have a minimum of two writing meetups scheduled each week.

See - this is the thing. When I sat down to look at my schedule and look at my priorities, I realized that my writing - outside of NaNovember - was getting pushed to the back. Then my exercise was also getting shoved out of the way. And without those, I get cranky. And then I'm in the downward spiral headed to "The Hole." Lack of sleep, minimal writing, minimal exericise = make Dot a grumpy pumpkin. And, without making a conscious effort to clean up my schedule ...
I will never finish my memoir
I will never finish revision of my 2008 novel
I will never finish and revise my 2010 novel
I won't be able to do the half-marathon in May for which I'm registered

So - I need to put these things in writing, in my schedule. And I have.

I need to get enough sleep. And I will. That is my current priority. If there is a choice between 7-8 hours of sleep or going for a swim, sleep wins. Because I've found that sleep does more to relieve aches and stiffness than ibuprofen. Exercise does more to lift my mood than a latte or a natural Uplift capsule or grousing about, so that's my second priority - but it doesn't have to be daily. And I've found that writing on a regular basis does "prime the pump" and the writing flows more easily and ideas start popping up like water on a hot oiled skillet. So, I will balance out the scheduled writing and the scheduled swimming/walking/dragon boat training.

So my new schedule has enough work hours allotted to meet my financial needs, things scheduled so that I can get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and specific days and times for writing dates & editing and for working out.

I'm not fond of strict schedules. I like things to be changed up a bit. I like some flexibility for things that come up last minute, to go to things outside of the "norm" I've set up. And, hopefully, I've done that. Which is also why I'm making this change in conjunction with the term - there is a natural break, time to change, if it doesn't work or if I just need to do something a little different. But maybe, with the writing and what I experienced again during NaNovember, the benefits of a semi-regular schedule will be worth it.

We'll see.

So that is why I took a few days off the blog - to recoup? No, that would have been predictable. It was to jump back into my crazy schedule because I'd forgotten the lessons from last year.

I'm back.

I will finish my memoir
I will finish revision of my 2008 novel
I will finish and revise my 2010 novel
I will do the half-marathon in May