Jigsaw Puzzle

I’ve recently found that writing comes more naturally when I’m feeling low and overwhelmed. Although it’s great that I’ve now realised that I can turn a bad day into a piece of writing, the excitement of the grey clouds finally clearing and being replaced with skies of blue has been dampened; creating a new cloud of its own since I’m now lacking inspiration to write. The negative that turned into a positive has now made the positive turn into a negative.

I know I can’t just put off writing until I have another day of feeling extremely anxious, low or overwhelmed because then I’ll get out of the habit of it. Once I’m out of the habit of writing, I probably won’t want to write; even on the days when I do feel those emotions. The thoughts will take over and I’ll be left with an empty page in my notebook or a blank Word document; the keys of the alphabet left untouched. Then I’m back to square one, feeling as though I have no skills to offer and that the struggles that I’ve faced previously have had no purpose. That I have no real purpose. Writing is also like my therapy, so I need to do it, but it’s knowing how to find that balance between not forcing yourself into something, but also not completely giving up on it either.

If something isn’t flowing, don’t force it.

  • Take a step back – have a cup of tea, have something to eat, get outside, exercise, have a shower, call a friend or do something creative. Literally anything, as long as you haven’t told yourself you are doing it because you’re giving up; it’s just a quick break from it.
  • Be aware of what else is going on around you – be mindful and use your senses. What do you notice if you pay more attention to the finer details?
  • Try something different – if there are different parts to the thing you are struggling with, focus on another part and whilst you are doing that, the other might fall into place…
  • Look at it from a new perspective – what would you say to someone else if they were in your position? What would you have told your younger self? What part does it play in the bigger picture?

After managing to misplace my headphones (again) I’ve been running without listening to music. Although I do sometimes miss the beat of the songs, motivating me to run that little bit faster, I’ve found that the silence allows me to be more aware of my surroundings. Not only do I feel safer, as I can hear if a car is slowing down behind me as it’s about to turn into the road that I’m about to jog across, I can also hear the birds in the trees and the squirrels scavenging through the fallen leaves whilst I run through the countryside. I can be more mindful when I run, so not only do I get home feeling calmer as endorphins have been released (aka happy dolphins swimming around my body) but I also feel better because I have actually been present in what I was doing. Sometimes I find myself unaware of what is going on right in front of me because my head is in the galaxy of anxiety. There have been quite a few times when I’ve been talking to someone but then two minutes later, I’ve had no idea of what they’ve just said because I was too focused on trying to keep myself together rather than taking in what that person actually had to say. No wonder there are times when I’m not enjoying myself or feel distant from those I’m around.

Another benefit that I’ve noticed more recently is that when I run, ideas also come running. It’s like once my trainers hit the pavement and I’ve picked up momentum, inspiration finally notices me. Well, until today. As I came to halt outside my house and pressed finish on Strava, I realised I didn’t have that spark of imagination. So, I rolled out my yoga mat, wishing that I could be practising the downward dog in a house of my own, in a peaceful environment rather than next to the cat’s litter tray, surrounded by my dad’s library of railway books.

But then as I looked at those railway books, although they were upside down from the position my head was in, I thought about train vocabulary. As my ponytail hung in between my arms and I stretched out my gastrocnemius (I hope that is the correct name of the muscle and not some type of disease) inspiration struck and the title of the short story I had been working on was created… which then also then gave me the motivation to finish it.

If something isn’t working out, be mindful of what’s around you. Don’t force anything or beat yourself up. It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just not quite the right time. Maybe you need to find a different part of the puzzle first, in order to place this part exactly where it needs to be.

Use what you have right now and appreciate what is happening in your life, even if you have to search a little harder for it at the moment. There is always something to either be grateful for or a reason behind whatever is happening. Maybe both. Sometimes it can take a year or two to find out the real reason of why something happened, but even that in itself can still bring us hope; that there will be a reason. Don’t force that jigsaw piece into a space that it doesn’t fit into. If you do, you’re only going to have to come back to it again when you realise you need that piece for another part of the puzzle. Try another piece or work on a different section instead. Maybe go and make yourself a cup of tea, see what inspiration you can find from what is around you or start working on another puzzle. But just make sure you come back to this one. Never completely give up on your jigsaw puzzle. And who knows where you might find that missing piece…

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