Hi, my name is Sofie, and I'm a project-a-holic.

I tend to have a lot going on in my life. A fairly recent example: working forty hours a week between four jobs whilst studying two masters degrees (one full time, one at half-load) and writing a novel. With a social life and other personal projects on the side. Admittedly I don't cook around here and my idea of housework is sweeping my eyes over a room, but most people will admit that's a lot to pack into one point of life. 

There are lots of terms for people like me. "Hyper-Creative" is the buzzword this decade, previously it's been 'dippers' (verses 'divers' , and I no longer remember where I read that one). To my friends, it tends to be 'crazy', 'insane' or occasionally "Yeah, Sof, but you're just... well, you", with 'you' in that tone usually reserved for That Weird Guy On The Bus. But I'm constantly drawn to the new idea, the new project, the new thing to create. It frustrates me that my story ideas take so long to come to fruition, because there's a traffic jam of ideas in my head that's backed up down the mountain and out to the ferry. Filling my life with new things - learning, projects - is my standard operating procedure.

It's not without sacrifices. Sleep tends to be the first thing to go, closely followed by other sensible things, like taking the cardboard recyclables out (I have a small fort), or putting your shoes back in the wardrobe (there's a boot-mountain by my bookshelf). But I discovered recently (well, several months ago by the time you read this, but as I have travel coming up, I'm writing this in December) one of the first things to go is the writing.

Which is, on one hand, like every other writer out there, really. But on the other hand, it's absurd.

Unlike most of the commitments in my life, my writing has no boss. There's no one expecting output. No one's expecting anything. So when faced with the choice of going to work and earning money / doing my assignment and finishing uni or writing, the task with the external force wins. When I was administering a large course this semester past, it happened - whenever I came home, there was always some work I had to get done instead of writing. Marking guides had to be created. Students had to be answered. Exams had to be marked, minutes had to be written, meetings had to be planned. And the writing kept getting pushed to the side.

I was on the verge of taking on yet more of this type of work-coming-home-with-me when it hit me: I was spending all this energy over something that wasn't ultimately where I wanted my life to go. I wanted to write, not teach at university. (Don't get me wrong, I love teaching. But it's a work-to-live equation there, not a live-to-work.)

A few weeks away from that job and my writer-brain has awakened again. Story ideas are pouring from my fingertips, near-full-formed into my queue. Problems with stories are fixing themselves before my eyes; I'm thinking in stories again. I'm a writer again. I don't know what I was a few months ago, but I don't think 'writer' was it.

I've had to take a look at what's in my life, and ask myself "Is this helping me along where I want to go?" "Is this the best option to achieve this end?". There are several areas that I suspect I'll be pulling back from over the next year, as I decide these things. Because I need to simplify my life, I need to reduce the things that tie up my story-brain like that, and prevent it from thinking and dreaming. Ineed to hammer into my brain that writing comes first.

I think this is the third time I've learned this lesson. I don't remember what prompted me to learn it the last few times, but hopefully this one will be memorable enough to last.

What's one thing you could do to help your story-brain thrive? Now, how will you make sure you do it?

Tags: Topics: Success, Motivation