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Managing my Spoons

On writer’s block and energy conservation - and expenditure

By Shelley CarrollPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
A four-spoon kind of day

It feels like I’ve started writing a million different things over the past few months.

I know that’s an exaggeration, but that’s how it feels.

And because it feels that way, the weight of carrying my lack of progress is pretty overwhelming at times.

Even my imagination, or lack thereof, is a burden.

I know I’m not a failure. I know my bread and butter don’t depend on how many words I write or publish on any given day. And thank goodness for that!

Nonetheless, “the struggle is real”.

I’ve got characters in my mind - Cecil and Bea - who are stuck there, waiting for their next mundane tale to be told. Cecil can’t wait to irritate Bea. Bea can’t wait to tell Cecil to “go pound sand” or “piss up your back and play with the steam”.

I’ve got a little children’s story under development - again, mostly in my mind. I won’t say too much, but it involves candy. So for now, in my vault is where it stays.

I’ve got a piece about breast cancer screening in the works too - likely about half finished. I lost my writing mojo when I couldn’t locate just the right image to correspond with the article - or at least this is the excuse I chose to employ when I left the project on the back burner.

So it’s not for lack of ideas - it’s for lack of drive and focus.

I am tired.

I think we all are - as I always try to remind myself, “everyone has their own shit”.

It’s not depression, don’t get me wrong. Sure, I’ve struggled on occasion with both depression and anxiety - separately and together. What a trip that can be! Not giving a shit about anything or giving a shit about everything real or imagined or bouncing back and forth between the two in short order. (And I know it’s not that simple or cut and dry - so no disrespect to those who are reading this and facing their own struggles and managing them the best way you can.)

That’s not what I’m talking about right now though.

No, this is more of a general malaise - a fatigue that has attached itself to my mind, altering my attention span, and seeping into my bones.

There are pockets of energy and productivity that are followed by stints of recovery.

It’s not that I don’t want to do anything - quite the contrary. I want to do many things. But rather than flit around “balls to the wall” to get everything done, I am doling out my energy and interests in parcels, targeting how I expend those precious kilojoules.

I recently learned an expression: “I only have so many spoons”. It resonated with me. The premise in which it was used is that we begin each day with so many things we need or want to do. However, each of us only has so many spoons to use in order to get those things done. And that number is different for everyone. It also depends on the day. One day, I might have 20 spoons to use as fuel. But another day, I might only have 3. So I must choose them wisely.

In that same vein, I’m learning that I can’t carry over my spoons from one day to the next like cell phone data. Each day is its own. Granted, I think sunshine, proper nutrition, and rest certainly help to keep the spoons plentiful, but we don’t know that in advance - only when we wake up each morning. Plus sometimes unexpected things happen during the day that cost us more spoons than we have available.

Writing is a bit of a passion for me. It’s a hobby through which I find a certain sense of personal fulfillment. The same can be said for running and reading. Some days I can enjoy all three! Other days, I have to choose.

Yet here I am today - using a spoon to get some words out of my head and onto my screen. I’m not using it to finish anything else that I’ve already begun - not yet anyway. But I am digging out a little piece of thought from the corner of my mind that may free up a couple of other spoons for another time.

And maybe those spoons will help to bring you the adventures of Cecil and Bea, or the children’s story, or that article about breast cancer screening.

Just not today.

I only have so many spoons.

Thanks for reading.


About the Creator

Shelley Carroll

Ms. Carroll is a 40-something year-old veteran public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves running, red wine, and laughter.


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