Adding this Social In Article to the Library…
Are You Out of Your Mind?
We’re busy. We’re juggling a hundred things at all times. We’re working different projects at different phases and on different time-lines—all the time. Is it any wonder that at times it nails us right between the eyes that we’re so wound up inside our own heads that we lose track of what’s going on outside our minds?
It isn’t as if we can delay, procrastinate, or postpone doing what we must do. Well, we can, but when we do, our projects suffer and we suffer. That doesn’t bode well for us physically, emotionally, or spiritually—and it bodes worse for our projects and those who are depending on us to do what we’re supposed to do when we’re supposed to do it.
I could easily parlay this into a time-management article but that isn’t the purpose here. The purpose is to pause and think about what we’re doing. We know why we’re doing it. But we need to weigh the impact of our actions, because just like every other action, there are reactions and consequences. Yes, you can read that complications. None of us need more complications.
And so we ask, “How do we avoid the complications?” The short answer is to spend some time out of our minds. No, I’m not advocating mind-altering drugs or any such nonsense. I’m advocating to take time regularly to focus on something else. On someone else.
Early on in my writing career (and I expect the same is true for most careers), I thought I had to do it all and if I worked harder and smarter, then I would be able to do it all. Guess what? I couldn’t. No one can. The reason isn’t what you might think. It’s because if we have open time in our schedules, there’s always a list of things waiting to fill it. It was that way before the Internet and social networking, and it is certainly that way now. Actually, it’s that way on steroids now.
The whole situation is kind of like when you have a new baby. The baby must be monitored 24/7. It takes all your time. So since the baby takes all your time, you might as well have two because you can watch two just as well as one, and you can’t give anything more than 24/7 anyway. All is all.
Perhaps it’s a little odd analogy, but that’s what happens with your work. All is all. You cull or complete a project and another fills its space. There is no free time, vacation time, days off, or even evenings off—unless you take off. Put down-time on the schedule if you must, but take it. Creativity—sanity—demands it.
Nothing kills creativity and/or enthusiasm for what you’re doing as much as stress and weariness. Overwork generates both.
What we’re after is a semblance of balance. In writing, we spend an awful lot of time inside our head with people who exist only in our imagination, enduring trials and conflicts that are also phantoms in our mind. That’s when we’re in creative-mode.
Then we flip to business-mode, and we do all that needs doing there to stay up on the market and what’s happening in it, to keep up with our corner of the business world, and we’re still isolated and spending a lot of time in our own heads.
Are you seeing the challenge of, Me, Me, Me yet? Stay too intensely focused on yourself, your career, your books and you lose sight of the rest of the world. You fail to create memories, to have a life outside your work. It happens easily—far more easily than most realize until it happens to them.
Knowing balance is critical to well being, action must be taken. A segment of time, energy and focus needs to be on something out of our minds—and shift to someone else.
Hobbies, we realize, have fallen by the wayside. Some of us are still scratching our heads and asking, “When did that happen?” But the truth is, between all the study of craft, the business, and writing and doing all of the thousand things we must do that are writing-related, and our personal lives, something had to give, and hobbies was it.
This is why I have special projects. I can justify them because in a tangential way they are writing-related, but they are not about my work or about me. They are out of my mind and focused on others.
Special Projects began simply enough. Every year, I adopt a focus for the year. That year it was to do good for goodness’ sake, meaning, do something to help others expecting nothing in return. So I started the Edna Sampson Benevolence Fund, found an organization to sponsor it, a committee to run it, and while I didn’t know the individual names of those it would help, I knew their stories. I knew about their lives and the challenges they faced and we cobbled together ways to help.
Other special projects have been the Persistence Award, the Fiction Blog Alliance, the Bombshell Authors Group, the It Girls Group, Clever Divas (created by Kathy Carmichael), Chapter 1 Zone, Christians Read and now Clean Read Books, where the goal is to connect readers and authors of clean read works to help them find each other.
Some of the earlier projects no longer exist because they no longer need to exist. For example, Chapter 1 Zone was created with the objective of getting the first chapter of authors’ works into readers’ hands. Nothing generates an interest in books like the books. This was an extremely successful program, but when Amazon and other retailers began including the first chapter of books on their websites, the need for it became obsolete. We celebrated that success.
The point is that special projects was my time for being out of my mind. Doing something that needed doing to help all authors.
I highly recommend taking on an out-of-your-mind program. It gets you out of your head and into the lives of others. If you see a need and a way to fill it, adopt it as your project. Yes, I know you’re already busy. But here’s the thing: a little time out of your mind will help you focus. It will anchor you in the real world as well as in your fictional worlds. And all those obstacles you’re encountering in your work need time to sort out. Give it to them. Your reward will be multi-layered, and the biggest perk is balance.
Years ago, my mother said, “We’re never too busy to help someone who needs help. We help them, anyway. When we do, what we need will be there when we need it.” She was right, and I’ve seen it proven repeatedly.
While some will scoff and say they’re too bogged down already, others will take on the challenge and adopt their own version of a special project. One will remain out of balance and the other will spend a little time out of their mind.
Which do you think will prove balanced and more content?
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.