It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s Insecure Writers Support Group day! Thanks as always to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting and organising this fantastic event. You can check out the rest of the participants here, and pop along to visit some more insecure writers and offer your support.

Insecure Writers Support Group logo

Now, I kind of did my IWSG post last week – you can click here to read about my recent wobbles – and the comments and support I got there truly took my breath away. If you’re feeling low this month, feeling like giving it all up, read through the comments to be reminded how supportive this wonderful blogging community really it – you are not alone. So for this IWSG post I’m going to be focusing on the ‘support’ aspect of the title. Here is my own little bit of wisdom – heavily borrowed and adapted from Susan Jeffers – to getting a bit of perspective and balance in your writing life.

First you need to draw a square with ‘writing’ in the middle, like this (it helps to do it in pencil):

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This square represents your world, and this is what it looks like when writing – thinking about writing, focusing on writing, talking about writing – takes over. Now take your eraser and rub it out:

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Yup, big empty space! So not only can writing overwhelm us, it can also make us scared of stopping. If you’ve been giving too much to one aspect of your life, deep down you know the rest of your world is in trouble, which makes you cling to the obsession even harder. But if you get burnt out, or just plain sick of it, what’s left? That big old empty box.

Right, now take your empty square and make it into 9 sqaures, like this:

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Now start to fill these squares with all the things that are important to you – all the things you would spend your time on, equally or otherwise, if you could. Here’s mine:

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Susan Jeffers also suggests things like Contribution (charity work, perhaps, or going to church) and Relaxation, and you could of course have more than one box for hobbies. This is your world, so you make it the way you want it. Now, take your eraser and rub out Writing again:

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Well, I guess this is a bit cheesy, but you can see that suddenly the gap it leaves isn’t so huge after all. And now for the most important point of this exercise:

If you give attention to every square, every day, your life will be more balanced and work better!

It’s true, try it. I’d forgotten all this, which was why my life was getting out of shape – hence last week’s post. Doing this exercise from time to time helps you focus on what’s important, and reminds you to give attention to the aspects of your life that tend to get ignored. It’s also incredibly useful – and this was Susan Jeffers’ intention – for helping you gain perspective after a relationship has broken down, or you’ve lost your job. But I think it works just as well for writing.

This is going out especially for Vikki Thompson, and you can read her IWSG post here. And I think Vikki makes a really valuable point – it’s definitely possible to get bored doing something you love, if you don’t do anything else. Most professional writers have other work and interests, and without this their writing may not be so rich and interesting. So I’m taking the advice of all the wonderful people who commented on the blog last week, and I’m going to have a break, plan other activities and projects, and come back to writing refreshed and reinvigorated. Happy IWSG day everyone!

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