I posted on Twitter recently (do you follow me on Twitter? Here’s the link if you don’t!) about how I’ve been really struggling with concentration lately.
Usually, I’m good at compartmentalising life – switching from thing to thing and concentrating on that sole thing at once. But recently… Well… Nope. Not sure whether it’s the world as it is, too many projects, or that a lot of my projects are nearing some sort of ‘end stage’, but I’ve struggled.
I’m currently working on three books at the same time (two novels and one poetry collection), and each one is at a different phase – from completing a draft for my agent to final edits from my publishers. I’m starting to feel quite ready to draw a line under some things and move onto something new.
But anyway, because my deadlines are relentless, I’ve been balancing writing with a LOT of mindfulness practices. And in some cases, I’ve actually had a plot breakthrough or poetry epiphany while doing them. They’re certainly working to unblock bits of my brain that are stalling a bit at the moment.
Knitting has been a huge one.
Some of you might know that several years ago I was a fibre artist, and sold hundreds of knitted and felted sculptures to collectors around the world. One in the US just got in touch with me last week to say it’s seven years since she bought her ‘Mugwump’ and she’s still on her bedside table, which is lovely.
So in typical not-at-all-seasonal style, I’ve been going mad knitting hats, snoods, and now a massive cuddly jumper. My hands are so hot. I was lucky enough to pick up a We Are Knitters Arts Sweater Kit in a recent sale, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it turns out like! I’ve been looking for easy projects where I don’t have to think too much and I can let my mind drift. And almost every time I pick up the needles, I solve a writing problem. Eureka!
I’ve also been continuing with clay-work and terracotta, though it’s not so easy to grab a pen and write down my idea without getting wet clay everywhere! I always seem to have a breakthrough when I’m in the bath too, so I make sure I have a notepad and pen in there with me otherwise it’s the most frustrating feeling in the world! I normally have to climb out of the tub and find a notebook in case I forget – and no-one likes cutting a relaxing bath too short.
Gardening has also helped a great deal. I’ve been going a bit mad planting roses, and even mounting some trellis and jasmine around our front door. Something about the smell of flowers and a fresh breeze after you’ve been chained to a laptop all day really helps to clear the mind and see things from a new perspective.
When do you have your breakthroughs? While being arty? Walking? Swimming? Gardening? I’d love to know.
P.S. A quick thank you to those who have pre-ordered my full poetry collection – Little Quakes Every Day. Thank you SO MUCH. Pre-orders make a huge difference for authors and publishers, and might tip the balance for how well the book does in the long term, too. So thank you again! And if you’re still thinking about it, you can read more about the collection and pre-order here.