The first month of 2020 has bid goodbye already and we are halfway into the second. How are your reading and writing goals holding up? Hope you all are finding time to read and write.
In the previous post, I talked about Self-Doubt and Self-Confidence was covered in the post before that. My article on writing with self-confidence has been rewritten and accepted into a publication ‘The Writing Cooperative’ on Medium platform and was published on February 4th, 2020 (Tuesday).
Writers, do check out this platform at medium.com – it’s a great place to read other writers and write your own pieces. I am in love with that place and have been writing voraciously there. You also have the option to choose to be paid as per the time readers spend on your articles by being a member in their Partner Program. You can publish your poetry, stories or any kind of articles there.
So, now on to our third part of The Primer series.
Many writers ask me, “How do you manage everything?” meaning the multiple roles I undertake in a day. I am also a physician working the evenings and two mornings in a week. I do not have a weekend, just Sundays. I have a 5 year old daughter, demanding but I believe she is accommodating of me, too. I live with my in-laws who are lovely people and allow me to be.
But still, when you ask me how I manage, my first answer is:
I don’t. I am all over the place most of the time. I do not manage things at all. But somehow, I get things done. I am far from punctual. The only thing I do on time is to be on time for kid’s school bus.
The time on the clock is 24 hours for all of us. Yet, some people do more than others. I am not the right person to talk about time-management – not yet. But most of the ‘not-getting-done’ in our lives is because of wrong prioritization and wrong zones.
Writers have to introspect, brainstorm and do some serious thinking to do their craft. Some people have learned to write in any kind of environment – I used to write in classrooms when the lectures were going on and now I have to write through the preschooler din. Some need a quiet space, a room of one’s own (preferably without doors). This is entirely up to you although I believe it is best not to get too stringent about having a space. There is nothing human brain cannot get used to.
Dissociation and Compartmentalization
The terms don’t have to scare you. It is pretty simple.
Writers are many people in one person – you all know that by now and have experienced that state of mind if you have dreamed of writing stories. It is not easy to conform and be silent when life situations are not exactly how you want them to be. But, we are humans. We are social animals and live in communities. We have families and friends. Few live in isolation. We have day jobs – very few are into writing full time.
So, when you experience dichotomy, when your heart is split between your passion and responsibility, what do you do? When you want to write when you have to be at a family event, when you have to do an errand for someone you love when you would rather sit in your room and type away, when someone expects you to put off writing for something they prioritize, how do you go about it?
I swear by the technique of dissociation and compartmentalization.
In this post, I will elaborate on Dissociation.
"Writers are many people in one person – you all know that by now and have experienced that state of mind if you have dreamed of writing stories."
Dissociation is simply the act of separating. For a writer in the midst of a normal social life, it is crucial to separate your day-to-day life and writing. It is great if you can manage both without dissociation, but most people can’t.
Dissociation, in my experience, allows you to handle emotions and reactions separately. Writers are in general very sensitive and emotive people. This could undermine their personal life. If you drag your emotional baggage pertaining to your writer persona to your personal life, there is going to be unrest and lots of misunderstanding with whoever comes in contact with you. Further, a divided state of mind stumped with confusion is really not a blissful situation.
The best part is, this is all in the mind. No hoodwinking there. You simply decide to have two sides to yourself. And keep those two lives apart. The experiences, observations and perspectives can overlap because the writer in you will need to know what you go through. But the passions and actions can and will have to be kept separately. Dissociation also helps you to deal with guilt if you were to disappoint anybody with regard to mundane social activities and societal expectations, which you are bound to if you are serious about writing. ;)
"If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” - Stephen King
There are a few ways to dissociate. Let’s list them out.
1. A pseudonym
Having a pen name (pseudonym) grants you a different name and some personal space needed to be that person. When you assume a name for the writer in you, you are giving him or her, a whole new personality with all its good and not so good aspects. It also helps you to channel your writer persona’s public life away from your personal life. A complicated person such as a writer might experience complicated situations and relationships at some point. A pseudonym lets you have an alter ego that can deal with those complications outside your personal life.
Also, when you are writing, you can slip into it effortlessly and remind yourself to stay focused. The pathological diagnosis of dissociative identity does not let you be in control. A voluntary dissociation helps you take your writing seriously and save your precious time. When you are in your writing persona, you do not have to heed about what your real life limitations are, at least mentally. Yet, you can maintain a certain amount of transparency.
Take care not to overlap the two which brings us to the importance of the next method. The slightly uncomfortable truth when using a pseudonym is, your writing will belong to that name and not to your actual self, which might be a total no for many writers.
"A voluntary dissociation helps you take your writing seriously and save your precious time. When you are in your writing persona, you do not have to heed about what your real life limitations are, at least mentally."
2. Dissociation by time
This is easier and more acceptable to those who are not so keen about attributing all your written work to an alter ego and if you are too proud of crediting it to a strange name.
Dissociate your time instead of your personality. Set aside a time exclusively for writing, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, you will not be immersed in guilt throughout the day that you did not write. Having fixed time periods throughout the day during which you will not attend to anything else helps you go forward with your writing projects.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of this time. It can also contribute to them taking your writing seriously, which solves a lot of dilemma and disillusionment.
"Set aside a time exclusively for writing, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, you will not be immersed in guilt throughout the day that you did not write."
3. Dissociation by space
Every job has a job space – an office or a particular field. Writing should, too. If you are someone who can write from anywhere and everywhere like me, you are doing great. I can squeeze in some writing time even on my phone while I am doing laundry or brainstorm when doing dishes or when traveling. But if you are someone with stringent requirements for brainstorming, it is likely that you will wait for the perfect moment and place to write. It can be a tad bit difficult to get things done in that case. But you can have an office.
Be protective of your time and space if you cannot function anywhere and anytime. Convert your table to a workplace. Pick up some habits that will program your brain into associating with your workplace and start writing. Don’t let other things clutter your space. Some writers convert their outhouses or attics or unused rooms to a writing space. Decorate it with motivating and uplifting things like potted plants, flowers, art and necessities like sticky notes, planners, journals, stationary and snacks.
"Be protective of your time and space if you cannot function anywhere and anytime."
To wind up...
This art of living as a writer will be complete only after talking about compartmentalization, too. I will try to bring it on sooner.
These are my findings as a writer. Feel free to share yours, too. :)
Until we meet again!
Love and Peace,
A blog exploring the art of writing and life as a writer amidst other roles through articles on writing, creativity, books, productivity, self-improvement, better living and parenting.