Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!

It’s our first return guest! Miri Baker joins us again this week to talk about something we should all have in our lives: boundaries.  It’s not a secret that the world is overwhelming and constantly vying for you attention.  But even things that you love like social media and writing groups can start to have a negative impact on your life if they’re not kept under control.  In this week’s episode, we talk about when doing one more thing becomes doing too much, the impact it can have your mental and emotional health, and what some things that we do to keep ourselves from exhaustion.

We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.

We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and how much toilet paper you have stashed away for the coming months.

We hope you enjoy We Make Books!

Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap

Instagram: @WMBCast 

Patreon.com/WMBCast

Find Miri at:

Twitter: @MiriBaker

Website: https://miribaker.com

And find the maker of Miri’s amazing shirt at:

https://www.caramcgee.com

 

 

 

 

 

Rekka (00:00:00):

So when I say welcome back to, We Make Books. I'm not talking to you listener this time. I'm saying welcome back to we make books to Miri Baker.

Kaelyn (00:00:08):

Joining us again.

Rekka (00:00:09):

Joining us for a second time.

Kaelyn (00:00:11):

Our first return guest.

Rekka (00:00:12):

Triumphant return.

Kaelyn (00:00:13):

Yes.

Rekka (00:00:14):

Um, Miri joins us today to talk about something that is very difficult for me to hear. Let's be real.

Kaelyn (00:00:24):

Something that's difficult for a lot of people here, a lot of people to talk about, a lot of people to implement and that today is boundaries.

Rekka (00:00:30):

Personal boundaries in your professional writing life. You need them. And Miri's got a lot of tips and a lot of -

Kaelyn (00:00:40):

Thoughts.

Rekka (00:00:41):

Auntie concerns and um, yeah, this is really, this is one of those things that isn't going to come up a lot in like professional discussions. But as soon as you start getting a little bit on like the emotional level, I think a lot of our emotional problems and our stresses related to this industry do come a lot from I boundaries we set or fail to set.

Kaelyn (00:01:09):

Yeah. I think a lot of people are going to hear things in this episode that are going to hit home that they didn't realize were things that they needed to think or consider.

Rekka (00:01:19):

We apologize if you feel personally attacked. You aren't being personally attacked.

Kaelyn (00:01:22):

No one is being personally attacked. Um, but Miri was on, um, or previous, it was episode 21 I believe. um talking about community and when we had her back on to talk about, you know, something else, uh, this kind of seems like a good counterpoint to that, which is writing and writing communities. And this is, it occupies sort of a unique space and we talk about this in the episode, but needing to set an establish and maintain boundaries for yourself is a crucial part of being successful in the life and process of being a writer.

Rekka (00:02:01):

And not just successful but also healthy.

Kaelyn (00:02:03):

Yes. Successful and healthy. Exactly. So, um, once again, we had a great time sitting down talking to Miri. Um, she was again allowed to leave. Despite our best efforts.

Rekka (00:02:14):

She did return home. We have confirmation that sh that, you know, like acknowledging that she is home. We made it back in one, did not keep her against her will. Um, but we had a great conversation. So take a listen and we hope you enjoy

Rekka (00:02:44):

And you sound tired.

Kaelyn (00:02:45):

You have me up so early.

Rekka (00:02:49):

You love me.

Kaelyn (00:02:50):

Those blankets wanted me to stay with them, took me away from that.

Rekka (00:02:55):

You'll join them again later.

Kaelyn (00:02:57):

Wripped away.

Miri (00:02:58):

They will be there for you.

Kaelyn (00:02:59):

Hey, that's a new voice.

Rekka (00:03:01):

Well not totally new.

Kaelyn (00:03:03):

No, not totally new. Second returning guest.

Miri (00:03:05):

Phase two of the invasion.

Kaelyn (00:03:07):

First ever returning guest for a second time.

Rekka (00:03:11):

Again.

Kaelyn (00:03:15):

I didn't say it makes it less of an invasion. I just wanted to, you know -

Rekka (00:03:18):

Just to be clear, part of the invasions idea is to make something so normal that you don't realize it's happening and what's more normal than Miri Baker. Welcome back.

Kaelyn (00:03:31):

Welcome back, Miri.

Miri (00:03:32):

Hi. Thanks for having me back.

Rekka (00:03:35):

So this isn't our fault, because you kind of pitched us this topic at the end of our last episode when you appeared back in, I believe that was November.

Kaelyn (00:03:44):

Beginning of November.

Rekka (00:03:45):

Of November, 2019. What is time? And so you sort of pitched this at us and said like, yeah, sure, read us an outline and you were like furiously scribbling it immediately. So it behooves us to pay attention when someone is so passionate about a topic. And what is this topic for which you are so passionate.

Miri (00:04:06):

Today we are going to talk about boundaries.

Rekka (00:04:09):

On this very special episode of we make books.

Miri (00:04:12):

Not without boundaries.

Rekka (00:04:16):

So you are talking about uh, sports fields with the sports ball and the white chalk lines.

Miri (00:04:22):

Yeah. Those, no, it's a, it's more of a rolly painty thing these days.

Rekka (00:04:27):

If only we had that to set our boundaries.

Miri (00:04:30):

Right.

Rekka (00:04:31):

This is the outline of what I'm willing to do for you.

Kaelyn (00:04:33):

Well, you know, there's a thing that, um, the officials have in soccer when they, it's just like, this can have like, like really fast melting temporary spray that when they have to spray off a line for like a free kick or something and everyone should just have those at all times and you just spray it on the ground and you have to worry about it because in about five minutes it's going to dissolve and not be there.

Rekka (00:04:52):

No, no, no, no. We want the boundaries to stick. Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:04:55):

But like if you just need to go boundary, okay. And then you, and then you walk away.

Miri (00:05:02):

You yeet yourself from the line after you kick really hard.

Kaelyn (00:05:05):

After you kick really hard.

Rekka (00:05:06):

I like this. Okay. So working with that now. All right, so you were talking about boundaries. Um, are we talking about, um, emotional boundaries, uh, work boundaries?

Miri (00:05:19):

All of the above. So the idea for this came from, uh, I think when I was on the last time Kaelyn mentioned, Oh, all of these social medias that you're in, all of that, that's a lot of time, you know, that can really take over your life. And I kind of cracked my back. Oh yeah. It leads to some really unhealthy habits and some, some ways of interacting with the world and ways of spending my time that are, you know, yes, kind of, kind of take over my life.

Kaelyn (00:05:46):

And I said, yes, that's what I'm worried about. That's, that's the point I was trying to make. Correct.

Miri (00:05:52):

And I've had to start working very intentionally on how do I put a box around that time around my mental energy and uh, but boundaries apply to so much more there. How much work can I do today? How much work can I do for this person? What can I take on, uh, what will my body allow me to do? And it can be very easy to not realize what your own, frankly, what your own needs are until you're kind of on the other side of them. So learning to set boundaries, we make boundaries! So you know, you kind of like said like you take on too much, you wonder what you can do.

Kaelyn (00:06:34):

Like I personally fall into this trap constantly where it's like, yeah, I can do that, I can do that. Um, I imagine like in writing communities, because you do a lot for your writing communities.

Miri (00:06:45):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:06:45):

And things can just put, you can just come home at the end of the day and go, I think I just agreed to the rest of my life. Like, I don't think I have any time free for the remainder of the time I'm here on earth.

Rekka (00:06:58):

Or you can be like me and be like, that's, let me just do it.

Kaelyn (00:07:02):

Yeah.

Rekka (00:07:02):

You know, and not even like someone has asked you to do it is that you end up volunteering because you're frustrated at watching it.

Kaelyn (00:07:09):

Rekka has a lot of those like Thanos moments at the end of -

Rekka (00:07:13):

Pardon me.

Miri (00:07:14):

Oh goodness.

Kaelyn (00:07:16):

You know the post credit scene, the "fine, I'll do it myself".

Rekka (00:07:20):

I thought you were referring to the snap.

Kaelyn (00:07:24):

No, no!

Rekka (00:07:24):

If I could.

Kaelyn (00:07:24):

Well, here's the thing. we could do that with all of the stuff we agreed to and just go half gone.

Miri (00:07:31):

And then we just agreed on more.

Rekka (00:07:33):

Yeah, we would absolutely. It's true. It's true.

Kaelyn (00:07:35):

Well life like commitments grows geometrically if not exponentially, but Rekka does have a lot of the fine, I'll do it to myself, which is one of the things we love about her. It's going on a mug. Oh, absolutely.

Miri (00:07:51):

Uh, going back to that, the pitfalls, um, entering a new, any new community, but especially writing community because it's a community of freelancers and hustlers and stay in the hamster wheel or die as Rekka has set a couple of times.

Rekka (00:08:06):

Yeah.

Miri (00:08:07):

It's very easy to think, Oh, participating in this community means I have to be doing that amount of stuff all the time. Like that is the entry fee and uh, you will burn out. There's this thing called urgent care. And my, uh, my expertise in this topic comes from in a different different zone from writing, but another like constant project, do stuff, do stuff, do stuff. Community is going to urgent care instead of going to the event that I had been preparing for for three weeks. So I, you know, I've, I've been on the wrong side of that line and had to be scooped up as a puddle of goo.

Kaelyn (00:08:43):

Well you know, and that's something interesting that you bring up because I think we think like burnout is like, Oh well whatever and I just sleep and I'll be fine. Like sometimes this becomes like an actual medical issue. Like I don't think people understand like this can actually be very serious like trying overtaxing yourself and trying to do too much. The stress aside, the sleep deprivation.

Miri (00:09:05):

Yes.

Rekka (00:09:05):

And not only that, like this is not something like, Oh, but I can manage it like your body functions in a certain way. When you are stressed, you produce cortisol and cortisol prevents you from sleeping and not sleeping prevents you from healing properly and rest in recuperating from the small things that are supposed to happen just in normal life. But then you pile on top of that and you're not physically equipping yourself to recover from it and you just keep saying, I can kick this can down the road and I will take a week off and sleep after this event.

Kaelyn (00:09:38):

And that's not quite how it ends up working.

Rekka (00:09:41):

Your body's not going to wait for you to have time for it.

Miri (00:09:45):

There was a tweet going around a while back that was if you do not pick a day to rest, your body will pick one for you.

Kaelyn (00:09:51):

Oh, it's very true. I mean I like I think back to when I was in grad school and like I was a TA, um, I was a TA, I still had a full class load and then we had comps. You have comprehensive final exams, which are basically, you get three professors on your board and you're going to take a six hour test written test and you have no idea what they're going to ask you. My favorite was one of my, so like you have your main guy and you get three hours, three hours.

Rekka (00:10:24):

Yeah. We've talked in past episodes about how the human mind can focus for about 40 minutes.

Kaelyn (00:10:29):

Yeah, well three hours because they expect you're going to need to take some time to organize your thoughts. Okay. So one professor, your main guy you get three hours with and they could give you five questions and tell you to pick three and write three one hour essays about them. They could give you, you know, any combination of different things. Then you get an hour and a half with each other professor and they're going to do the same thing. I had a friend who for his three hour thing opened his booklet, had one question and it said, is there something inherently totalitarian about modernity? Go

Miri (00:11:05):

Oh I can't and no can. Here's the thing. No. Done hand in the book.

Rekka (00:11:20):

I'm just saying no to the situation. Not no to the question. I'm saying no to the no I'm not, I have no idea.

Kaelyn (00:11:25):

You know. So we took a break and I remember like I'm talking to him and he was like shaking and he was like, I have to go back in there and finish another three hours on this. And like I felt horrible because that just wiped him out. Just that no.

Rekka (00:11:43):

When you said six hour exam, I'm thinking that's not a test of knowledge or retention. That's an endurance test.

Kaelyn (00:11:48):

It's, it is definitely a like, can you, can I give you a that you can talk intelligently about and show that you've internalized and digest enough information that you can apply it to the question I'm asking.

Rekka (00:12:00):

You can do that in 20 minutes. You don't have to be war crime cruel about it.

Kaelyn (00:12:05):

Yeah. Well then after that you have the oral exam. So then you go into a room with the three professors and they each get 20 minutes with you. So we always would joke, um, if you can get them to fight with you, you'll pass. If you can get them to fight with each other, you pass with distinction.

Miri (00:12:20):

Uh, is there something inherently totalitarian about grad school? Left as an exercise to the listener. And this is where name of the wind came from? I think so.

Rekka (00:12:29):

Actually ...

Miri (00:12:31):

That and student loans? Yes.

Kaelyn (00:12:34):

So the whole point is that I left that exam and I just about collapsed. Like I went home and I didn't go to sleep. I intentionally fell on my bed and laid there for a while it was, I shut down.

Miri (00:12:52):

Here's the thing that occurs to me about that you're talking about collapsing from the exhaustion of the the time you have just described on a single day, but you have been quote unquote preparing for this test that you can't prepare for and you've known about it since you started grad school and it has been this stress in the back of your mind this entire time building anxiety, building these scenarios that you imagine where there's no way that you could even walk out of here. We are catching on fire somehow because by the time that you've, like you get there, of course you've come up with a scenario in which you actually combust and the stress build up is almost like as cruel as just the time frame and the phrasing of the questions which are designed to flex and destroy you. Um, the buildup to this is almost worse now almost.

Kaelyn (00:13:40):

And see, that's actually an interesting point because I, this is a coping mechanism, not just for this, but I'll use the, I'll continue to send as an example. You don't think about it your first year of grad school, you do not think about this one. There's no point to, you're not ready to think about an and try to prepare at that point anyway, but, and there's kind of, you know, a schedule. You see what the second year is we're doing when you're a first year, I mean everything but the denial and the, I'm just not thinking about, this is sometimes a valid coping mechanism. If it's not, if it legitimately is not something you can do anything about right now.

Rekka (00:14:20):

Right. But here's how we have global warming.

Kaelyn (00:14:23):

Well that's not true because you can do something about that right now.

Rekka (00:14:26):

But I mean like you can't look that far ahead into the future to see the consequences. Like the consequence of joining grad school is I have to take this horrible test, you know? And so it's, I think you're right. It's a coping mechanism and it's one that our, our minds employ in voluntarily against our wishes maybe. And so one thing we do is we say, yeah, I can do that. I can add that to my plate because I don't see the situation to bring it back around to Miri's point. I don't see the situation in which I can't take this on.

Kaelyn (00:14:54):

Well, it's also, I can do that without thinking down the line about what the real impact of that is going to be.

Miri (00:15:01):

I think that's what Rekka was saying. It's like, yes, I'm in a vacuum right now. I'm not thinking about this other thing that's happening. Or the other 12 things I've, I've stuffed in my little knapsack of stuff I need to do. So, of course I can do this thing. I am a human who would be able to do this thing. Yeah. On its own. I can absolutely do that thing. I could probably do that thing in 15 minutes and really well, yes.

Kaelyn (00:15:23):

But you know, and sometimes though you can fall into a trap and I will say like this happens to me sometimes where you have so much to do and you can't make yourself start doing any of it.

Miri (00:15:35):

Oh, I think we're all familiar with that feeling. Yeah. And somehow amazingly bad at realizing that feeling is going to happen again.

Kaelyn (00:15:44):

Yeah. Like sometimes like there are like silly, like I have a list of like things that will take me 15 minutes to do, but there's a lot of them and the lot of them is the overwhelming part. And it's like, so if I sit down and start doing this, it's not going to take me 15 minutes going to take me four hours because I've got, you know, so many 15,30 minute things to do. And that can make you not want to do any of them just dipping your toe in the water is this scary prospect.

Rekka (00:16:11):

Yeah. And you start to wait for like the perfect day to get things done.

Miri (00:16:15):

Listener, the perfect day. It does not exist. So we've been talking a lot about the boundaries around what things can I take on. But there's also a boundaries around how we spend our mental and emotional energy. And we've talked a lot about mental energy, but not necessarily emotional energy. And I think the best example for that is Twitter.

Rekka (00:16:37):

Ah, the horrible thing about Twitter is Twitter's a horrible thing.

Kaelyn (00:16:40):

So horrible.

Rekka (00:16:41):

Not great. Yeah. And the the scroll, the wall of text never ending. You have eight new notifies, you know, eight new posts to read since you've just reloaded this page kind of constant input thing makes you feel like everyone out there is doing things constantly.

Miri (00:17:00):

Yes. And I think part of that is as you're reading Twitter and Twitter, to be clear, Twitter is set up to make you feel like this.

Rekka (00:17:08):

Yes.

Miri (00:17:08):

Twitter has set up to take your eyes away from the different names and different icons and you just see all the stuff and instead of realizing, Oh this is a hundred different people rotating, taking two really busy, really productive days. It just feels like the community is constantly doing all this stuff and posting all the time. And why aren't you and why aren't you? Don't you know there's a convention practically every weekend that you could be at.

Miri (00:17:42):

But yeah, it's that, that pressure that I'm missing something, I'm missing something and I should be doing something. And you probably just at your phone when you were going to do something else actually productive.

Kaelyn (00:17:53):

And it's not just a pressure of like, Oh, look at these people posting about like all this stuff they're doing. To me, just the posting is overwhelming. Like the idea of having to like do all of this and put this much time, effort and energy into it, I don't like it.

Rekka (00:18:09):

It's okay not to like it. Um, unfortunately in this current algorithm based society, you can't avoid it unless you can create something better, which you then eventually have to fund with algorithm driven data and advertising. So like it's, we are stuck in a cycle of this is how humans now behave with each other in an etheric plane of like over-ness and poor communication.

Kaelyn (00:18:41):

Yeah.

Miri (00:18:42):

So like, like humanity, but faster, yes.

Rekka (00:18:46):

Like humanity, but faster and completely binary in that either this person is here, present and on, or this person must be not here at all. This person does not exist.

Miri (00:18:56):

Right.

Rekka (00:18:57):

And so, or at least that's how you internalize what happens if you don't do it right. And so that's a lot of pressure. So how do you boundar-ize? Something like social media, the feed.

Miri (00:19:09):

The feed. Uh, the things I've had to start doing are I have seasons of just straight up taking the stuff off my phone, but we're going to assume that you're still here because you have a reason to be here. One, there are some tools within Twitter and platforms like Twitter that will let you manage the flood. Um, mutes are your friend muting words, muting accounts that you don't have to deal with. If you don't want to see them, you don't want them to see that you've blocked them. There's a whole muting blocking internet ettiquite thing that is bizarre. Dark, ignore Twitter.

Rekka (00:19:45):

Dark, ignore Twitter.

Miri (00:19:47):

Um, and for the longest time I had really internalized like, Oh, if I mute this person, they're winning. Or Oh, I should just be a big enough person to not need to use these tools.

Kaelyn (00:19:58):

Like I should just be able to look at this and keep going without it de-railing my day.

Rekka (00:20:02):

And this is definitely like 100% of boundary thing. Like you can set the boundary of this person's diatribes or this person's nonsense or this person's constant demands of other people is not good for me, not worth my time. I should not be allocating time to even skimming this content.

Kaelyn (00:20:23):

And I think we have this mentality where we think like, why is this a big deal? This shouldn't be a big deal for me. I'm going to tell myself it's not a big deal and therefore it's not going to be a big deal, but that's not how this works because 10, even five years ago, we were not this consistently bombarded with stimuli and information that we had to take in and process.

Rekka (00:20:45):

Not only that, but these are little blue screens that activate our, our like our minds in a way that most other, um, things that we ever dealt with other people from a distance like writing letters was never a blue screen in your eyes, like waking you back up kind of activity. Like you run a candle, lighting and red light is way more relaxing and comforting and that sort of thing. Then, um, the blue light that simulates daylight. Like get up there, go out, do some work, be active versus Hey it's a fire that probably means the sun's down. That probably means like it's time to get cozy and start winding our way toward bed. This is like the exact opposite and it's in our faces and like that just always occurs to me that not only are we getting this strange constant input, we're getting it mechanically in a way that like it just agitates our brains.

Kaelyn (00:21:35):

Yeah. And like I think we are still like going like well how come all of a sudden I'm part of this group of people that can't deal with this. Humanity's been humanity for as long as humanities exists.

Rekka (00:21:47):

People will always people. Exactly.

Kaelyn (00:21:49):

But like things are very different now. Even I, like I said, definitely within the last decade I would go so far as to say even in the last five years, we're needing to learn new ways to process, cope with an interact with information in the world around us. So saying, this is bothering me and I need to mute this award or this person or something. There is nothing wrong with that. That doesn't make you like less able to take the world around you. It means that you have more of the world that you have to deal with now and saying, okay, I've hit the max of the world.

Miri (00:22:30):

Oh there's a mood.

Kaelyn (00:22:33):

That doesn't make you weak. That doesn't make you, you know, like mentally fatigued or you, no one should look down on you.

Miri (00:22:41):

I mean it certainly does make you mentally fatigue. Well the fatigue is real. It's just that it's, it's real, it's fatigue, it's emotional fatigue.

Kaelyn (00:22:52):

And there's nothing wrong with admitting to that.

Rekka (00:22:54):

Yeah. I think part of it is when we are socially conscious, we feel like muting a trigger word is going to somehow we feel like we're trying to erase our responsibility for like what we could change in the world and therefore like if you don't watch a topic that you are failing to improve the world around that topic or something like that. And that's, again, this is just Twitter, but also Twitter doesn't change any of this -

Kaelyn (00:23:20):

And this goes back to boundaries. Like you can't fix every problem and you know, social like I think that's another thing like those of us that are socially conscious and like care about these issues and stuff, want to help with everything and you can't help with everything. You physically can't do it. You're, if you want to, that's great, but you're going to kill yourself trying to, it's going to hurt you.

Miri (00:23:44):

You're able to engage better, whether it's in your work, in your communities, in a social issue that you're really working on if you are not skiddish scared or dead.

New Speaker (00:23:55):

Yup.

New Speaker (00:23:56):

Actually that last one for some reason.

New Speaker (00:23:57):

Yeah, that's very strange. How like dead people are not super productive and you know, I'm not calling them -

Speaker 1 (00:24:04):

Well there were those mushroom farms.

Rekka (00:24:07):

That's true.

Miri (00:24:08):

That that's useful. But again, they're focused on one thing.

Rekka (00:24:12):

They're focused on One thing.

Kaelyn (00:24:13):

I want one of those bags they put you in that a tree grows out of.

Rekka (00:24:17):

That would actually solve all these problems. Okay. So we're go turn yourself into a bag from which a tree can grow. But yes, skiddish scared or dead.

Miri (00:24:26):

And we see a lot of, you know, there's a fear of the fairly justified fear of the Twitter pylon or of saying the wrong thing. Um, or of genuinely making an ass of yourself. But, uh, you can just not, okay. I'm not going to say you can just, it is not, you can just, we doing a whole episode about how it is really hard to not to engage, um, yeah. Using mutes up blocking people. You can block people. It's okay. It's fine. Uh, someone shows up in your DMS that you've never met before. Making explicit commentary blocked, done, goodbye.

Kaelyn (00:25:04):

Don't even reply. Just gone.

Miri (00:25:07):

But beyond the things that, uh, something like Twitter will let you mechanically do, there is an exercise of going, what about this scares me? What am I worried about? What am I constantly, you know, turning the scenarios over my head and doing whatever it takes to mitigate that. So for me, no, I want to be talking to people. I, I've liked the notifications. I love that little dopamine hit. And that became very dangerous for me because I'm spending so much time on line and on my phone and I have a billion other hobbies and I'm like, why am I so tired all the time?

Rekka (00:25:42):

You just need more coffee.

Miri (00:25:44):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:25:45):

But you hit on something very interesting is the flip side of that, which is you can get addicted to this.

Miri (00:25:50):

Oh, it's designed for that.

Rekka (00:25:52):

I mean dopamine is an addictive substance and we make it ourselves.

Kaelyn (00:25:55):

And we want the interaction. You want the retweets because you want to see people loving you on Twitter

Rekka (00:26:02):

And if they won't love you, maybe they'll argue with you.

Kaelyn (00:26:05):

It's also validation.

Rekka (00:26:05):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:26:07):

And we as people crave that and that's a different kind of boundary where you have to stop and take a step back and go like, all right, the metric of how well my life is going is not my Twitter notifications.

Rekka (00:26:22):

If you say so.

Kaelyn (00:26:25):

But that's a, that's a pit a lot of people fall into. And like you said in this just all circles back to. Am I doing enough with this? Because look at how, look at how many likes and retweets this person gets and I only get this, they must be doing more and doing it better.

Miri (00:26:39):

Right. So it's, it is not a novel observation that on social media you're seeing other people's curated highlights, reel of their lives, but you're also not seeing either what a shambles the rest of their life is in to make that happen. Or conversely, what else they're giving up to make that strong time consuming social media presence part of a life that also functions.

Kaelyn (00:27:08):

If at all.

Rekka (00:27:09):

If at all.

Kaelyn (00:27:09):

Yeah. Yeah. Well like I think it's, you know, like we're seeing this more and more with like Instagram influencers. We've kind of now moved away from this. I like this romanticized notion of like this is how their life actually is. Like everyone knows now like this -

Rekka (00:27:23):

It is a hustle.

Kaelyn (00:27:23):

Yeah, it's a hustle and they're renting staged apartments in New York to take a picture that looks like I just woke up and I'm having this coffee and this coffee is made with these special beans that are going to improve your skin and hair and nails. And also it's made from unicorn blood and other things.

Miri (00:27:44):

I mean, we can know that, but if you're just scrolling through.

Rekka (00:27:49):

It still communicates, this is a desirable life. Why don't you have it exactly. If only you just worked harder and rented random apartments in New York city.

Miri (00:27:59):

As, as we really all should be doing as writers. Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:28:04):

I mean, I rent an apartment in New York city.

Rekka (00:28:07):

It's not random though. It's a determined.

Kaelyn (00:28:09):

No, I mean I live there for a reason.

Miri (00:28:12):

And then the, the other part of boundaries, which I think gets, I know I have glossed over in the past of like, Oh, boundaries are for me there to keep my life in some carbon-based shape of a thing that functions. Uh, your boundaries are really important for how you interact with other people and especially -

Kaelyn (00:28:30):

Oh definitely, yeah.

Miri (00:28:31):

- people who you have a professional or paraprofessional relationship with. You are a human person. And if you ostensibly, ostensibly, and if you have a deadline, whether it's you know, a book or an article or whatever it is, and you can feel deep in your soul that I am not okay, I'm not going to make this. The, the reflexive thing to do is say, Oh no, I can, I can rally, I can make it work. I can make it happen. I can make it happen. I can make it happen. Right. Until you pass out on the floor for the 24 hours before and 48 hours after that deadline and look at what society does to us. The little engine that could, like that is a train that has no boundaries.

Rekka (00:29:19):

I want to see that cover now. A train that has no boundaries.

Kaelyn (00:29:24):

I think I can, I think I can. I think I can and

Rekka (00:29:27):

Oh wait, Nope. Can't,

Kaelyn (00:29:29):

I can tell you as an editor, like sometimes I've been in positions where I have not correctly estimated the amount of time it's going to take me to do something. I know, I know, I know. Or, you know, you kind of read through something and you come up with a plan and you go like, okay, this, this, this and this. Probably gonna take me about this. Then you go back to it and that whole plan goes in the garbage and you're starting, you know, you're like, Oh wait, I forgot about this thing. So like I've written to authors and been like, Hey, I just, I'm taking another 12 hours with this. I didn't forget about you. This is coming. But in order for me to get this to a place where I'm happy giving it back to you, I need another 12 hours with it. I'll have it to you in the next day or so. I'm on the other side with authors.

Kaelyn (00:30:20):

I would much rather you send me that same email and just say, listen, like I'm not finished with this yet and I, I need some time with this because especially something with writing, this is not a matter of like I'm building a bookshelf and the bookshelf, I'm finished building the bookshelf when the bookshelf is built, there's a lot of like thought and emotion and mental time and energy. This is something like, I always call this invisible hours, the time that you have to spend just thinking about something and I'm going to say, I will say this and I don't mean it in the most literal sense. Well I do mean it in a very literal sense. You have nothing to show for it and by that I mean you do not have anything physical that you can put in front of somebody and say, I did this. Mentally you have done a lot of work and one that's exhausting and two, it takes a lot of time. So you know, I call these invisible hours because they are hours you spend working with what you make at the end of them. No one else can see.

 

Miri (00:31:22):

Oh, that's why so many of us have other, other creative hobbies.

Rekka (00:31:26):

That serve as very nice distractions when the thing that we're really wanting to make. Yeah. The, um, the thing that occurs to me is that those invisible hours are, um, unnecessary comp. Like, you know, you're not saying they're not worth anything you're saying.

Kaelyn (00:31:43):

Absolutely. They're very important.

Rekka (00:31:45):

Um, and you need to have them. And if you're not immersed fully in your project, like when you are immersed fully in your project, you're sort of existing in a sphere where you are always processing that information. When you allow yourself to work on other things or if your time can't be focused. Um, if you spend a lot of distracted time on Twitter, you are not mentally processing those things. You are mentally processing other people's things. And so when you do sit down to work, if you have 15 minutes, it's not the same as if you had 15 minutes when you'd been working on this one project focused all week. It's now I need to put my brain back in that space and do some of that mental processing. So that feels like I used to be able to write, you know, at least 300 words in 15 minutes. Why can't I do this anymore? It's like you are trying to do the same work and allowing yourself less time.

Kaelyn (00:32:37):

I have put on the noise canceling headphones and you know this is not a recommendation or endorsement of this but noise canceling headphones, glass of wine or you know, a nice coffee, whatever. You know you're kind of relaxing beverages.

Rekka (00:32:51):

Your poison.

Kaelyn (00:32:52):

Yup. Gotten blank pieces of computer paper sat in front of me and just stared into space thinking, thinking for 30 minutes, wrote a whole bunch of stuff down. Stop. Think the human brain develops and processes information a certain way. And I use like, I have two little nephews now and I'm learning all kinds of interesting stuff about how babies brains work. One of the reasons babies need to nap so frequently is because everything is new to them.

Rekka (00:33:22):

Everything is stimulus.

Kaelyn (00:33:23):

Everything is stimulus. They can't filter out stuff in the back. So part of it is their babies and you know, they just need to nap a lot. But a lot of it is actually mental fatigue that they're napping because their brain needs now three hours to kind of sort through everything that they just took it.

Rekka (00:33:41):

And that's an important point is that when you're sleeping, that's not you being inactive. That is your brain building back its resiliency and also processing the information that you've taken.

Kaelyn (00:33:50):

And that's why you frequently dream about stuff that happened to you that day.

Rekka (00:33:53):

Or that's why you think of stuff in the shower when you've like turned off everything but like automatic mechanical movements so your brain can process more information. You know, like that's basically shutting down all the programs so that the process that was freed up.

Kaelyn (00:34:07):

It's exactly what it is.

New Speaker (00:34:08):

Works even better than showers, which sometimes you're not conscious when you figure things out.

Miri (00:34:12):

Which is why sleep deprivation is a hell of a drug.

Rekka (00:34:16):

It's a torture.

Miri (00:34:17):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:34:18):

No, I mean it is literally is.

Miri (00:34:21):

When we say writers torture themselves, we are not kidding.

Rekka (00:34:24):

Yes. Governments of the world use this method to like destroy people so they can break them down and get what they want out of the pieces of human shell that they're left on the ground. And you not do this to yourself voluntarily. When you push, push.

Kaelyn (00:34:40):

You're not productive, they do this with um, driving experiments a lot. Are you a worse driver sleep deprived or after drinking? And do you know what? It's a toss up depending on who it is I've seen.

Rekka (00:34:51):

I've seen studies that point to sleep and I just, yeah, obviously we don't want to be drinking and driving. I don't like this plan, but -

Kaelyn (00:34:57):

Do not drink and drive.

Rekka (00:34:58):

Both of these situations bad.

Kaelyn (00:35:00):

Yeah. So anyway, the whole point is like, be kind to yourself with this kind of stuff. Don't push yourself too far and look at everyone else and go, well they're doing all of this. I should be able to as well.

Miri (00:35:14):

And just like invisible hours, you have invisible labor. Um, maybe somebody, you got an email or even fan mail or just some little thing that's super harmless and just asking you, Hey, can you do this real quick? Or even just really effusive praise or whatever it is and it's, this requires a response from me and, Oh gosh, no, I can't do that right now. I'm thinking about why that might be the case. And what do you feel is expected of you in those moments?

Kaelyn (00:35:43):

You know, I'm an acquisitions editor. One of the things that it was very surprised by was when I'd send out rejections, um, I'd get, not a lot, but like some responses back saying, you know, very nice, you know, polite saying, thank you so much. Um, you know, is there any way I could ask you for like some notes on this or just like a little bit of like what I could have done better here. And, um, I was talking to, uh, someone who's now a good friend who's also an editor. And like, I was just like, yeah, I don't know what, like, I don't have time for this. And he said, of course you don't, and you don't owe anyone your time. Like you rejected their manuscript, you know,

Rekka (00:36:22):

That was the response that you owed.

Kaelyn (00:36:23):

That was the response yes or no, and you don't owe them, you know, notes and things and like don't make yourself feel bad about that.

Miri (00:36:34):

And especially in this writing sphere, I think you're dealing with a lot of people who have entered it at different points, different recency's who just genuinely do not know. And I know my instinct in those moments is going, Oh, they don't know. They don't know better. It's okay, I can, I can help this one better. I can teach them. And the thing is teaching is a skill and it's a, it's labor. And it's not my responsibility to account for the fact that other people don't know things. I'm not going to be a jerk to them, but I don't owe them anything.

Rekka (00:37:09):

And you were saying the emotional labor of just receiving an email that you do want to respond to. Um, and sometimes you're like, Oh, well I can just do that right now. Like, let me just take care of that. Except it's 10 o'clock on a Saturday night. Now the person's gotten a response from you in five minutes and they wrote you back. Now what? And you've created a pattern. Even though there's it's you know, sample size of one, you are setting yourself up to create a pattern of replying to people within five minutes of them sending you an email to a fan that is amazing. They are online live with this, you know, author that they wrote reached out to because they wanted to talk to them and engage with them. But now, now it's 3:00 AM on Sunday morning and you're still replying to this person and you want to go to bed.

Rekka (00:37:53):

Um, you know, one thing I like to do to set a boundary, and I do this with my employer too because my manager works all weekend because no one stops her. And so when she sends me an email or a text or something like that, I will reply. I will either reply, yes, I'll send it to you on Monday or I won't necessarily reply for a couple of hours. If like I'm doing something reasonable like having dinner with my family, you know like setting the expectation that you do not immediately turn something around even if it's quick, even if it's easy sets you up that they are not going to go well. You normally get this to me really fast. Why did this take five days or something like that? Like I usually let an email from a reader sit for a day or two so that the, the expectation is not that I reply immediately.

Kaelyn (00:38:40):

I um, actually have a thing that I do and like, you know, I'm not flooded with emails generally. I mean sometimes some weird times of the year are busier than others but like I usually get a few a week with just some questions or you know, Hey take a look at my portfolio. Or when are you guys going to be open for submissions? Again, I try to take time with those kinds of things and set aside an hour or two hours, however long I need to sit down and answer all of those at once. Because the same thing I could just keep reply doing because a lot of times people do write back to me and you can even get stuck in the thank you loop where it's like you too. Thank you so much for your quick response and you know, I'm really excited for, you know, this kind of thing and then like, Oh thanks. That's a nice thing for you to say.

Rekka (00:39:30):

This is an improv trick. Yes and.

Kaelyn (00:39:32):

Exactly.

Miri (00:39:32):

You hang up. No, you hang. Exactly. Exactly.

Kaelyn (00:39:35):

So, but like I do take time and sit down and like I try to do it once a week. Um, you know, if there's things that are more urgent that I see that come in, I'll, you know, get to them immediately. But if it's just like general questions because I could spend -

Miri (00:39:50):

The rest of your life.

Kaelyn (00:39:51):

But, and I know it seems like a strange thing to say, but every time I sit here and I open this and I have to compose the email and like think about it. Whereas like if I'm answering a whole bunch of the same questions, I can answer those real quick and condensing all of that together really helps me with that and to manage communicating with people.

Miri (00:40:10):

And that's the thing about these quote small requests unquote is that they're not and it's not conscious, but they're not just requesting a quick response. They're requesting you to put down whatever it was you were doing. Switch gears into that thing, I guess. Thoughtful, whatever dance of combination of thoughtful.

Rekka (00:40:30):

Accurate, accurate.

Miri (00:40:32):

And not promising anything. Response, send it off, spend a little bit of extra time decompressing from that and then -

Rekka (00:40:41):

Figuring out where you were and go back to it. Now you, yeah, you've got two tasks that may not have been performed to what you would consider your standard.

Kaelyn (00:40:48):

Well, like if every time I stopped, every time I got one of these emails, I stopped everything that I was doing and I replied to it immediately. That's maybe seven to 10 minutes per email, depending from stopping what I'm doing, opening this up, reading their thing, composing a reply, hitting send, putting it down, going back to what I was doing, seven to 10 minutes, depending on what I've got to write back to them. If I sit down and do all of it at once. Each of those emails is only taking me two or three minutes per email.

Rekka (00:41:12):

Right. Time lost on either end. When you consolidate them is -

Kaelyn (00:41:16):

Exactly. Yeah. And like I know it's like, Oh, so what's the big deal? It's like, no, it's, it's the mentally taking yourself out of something else.

Miri (00:41:25):

Someone else does not get to decide what is a big deal for you. Yeah.

Rekka (00:41:29):

An email, a telephone call, a text message does not have a right to be responded to and acknowledged immediately. Yup.

Miri (00:41:36):

And if you're like me and you see the email pop up because you're always looking at your screen for some reason and your instinct is to go, Oh, that's real quick on. And if I had the more insidious one, if I put this away now, I'm not going to remember to come back to it.

Rekka (00:41:51):

So don't look at it in the first place if you don't have time.

Miri (00:41:54):

Yeah. And the way we do this is filters.

Rekka (00:41:57):

Yeah.

Miri (00:41:57):

Filters are good. And then I can have a to do list item. That's okay. Go look at my unsorted filter or my, um, if I'm at my day job filters from different technology tools that different people use to communicate with me. It's okay. I'm in answer product issue mode now. Yup. No, we can go. Um, I do think there's, uh, another aspect of this that, can I invoke the, the gender specter?

Kaelyn (00:42:22):

Oh, absolutely.

Rekka (00:42:23):

Yeah. Yeah. We can, except there are like infinite genders. So go through the infinite.

Kaelyn (00:42:29):

So let's start right now and um, what, in maybe 36 hours or so.

Miri (00:42:34):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:42:34):

That's done. You don't have a plane to catch or anything.

Miri (00:42:38):

Um, I do think there is a little bit more pressure on women, femme people, people who are socialized female to be responsive and be friendly -

Kaelyn (00:42:51):

And to be appeasing.

Rekka (00:42:52):

To be appeasing, peacemakers.

Miri (00:42:54):

Exactly. Yeah. So I have definitely seen writers who fit that description, expressing more pressure to respond either quickly or at all because, Oh, if you're not responding, then you're just being, you're being cold.

Rekka (00:43:12):

And selfish, you're selfish, you're icy.

Miri (00:43:15):

And this can extend to somebody who just sent me this really nasty letter going through all the different things that I did wrong on my book. What should I say? And the answer is nothing.

Rekka (00:43:28):

Nothing. You can delete the email and move on with your life.

Kaelyn (00:43:31):

I've had, I mean, part of it, and this is the thing that like this can, this will be the brain fuck that starts messing with you. Am I just like this or am I like this because I was socially conditioned to be like this? Um, that's a spiral. You can just be like this. It is okay. But some of it is that I am just like this, but, um, I'm very used to, especially in my day job, having to be very, very clear about what I'm saying and what should be done because it's just part of the nature of the job. And when I'm responding to people with publishing things, like I parse the words to the point that sometimes they don't mean anything anymore. Um, but that's happened to me where like I've, you know, responded to someone and been like very nice and I've gotten back like, ah, well that's not, and at that point I was just like, okay, well I tried buddy. I don't know what to tell you. Um, but that's a boundary that you have to put up for yourself is like -

Rekka (00:44:33):

Because they put you on your, on your back foot trying to make you apologetic like that, that they could just be grumpy and delete your email and be unsatisfied with your answer. But the fact that they write back to you and let you know they are grumpy expects a, uh, you know, capitulation in their favor.

Kaelyn (00:44:50):

Yeah. Well, like I get a lot of, you know, um, when are you guys going to be open for submissions? And if my response is like, Hey, I don't know, um, you know, we're gonna see how you're going to see w what we need. Uh, just, you know, follow us on Twitter or sign up for a newsletter. Keep an eye on us. Okay. But like, how will I find out? There's thingsI just told you.

Miri (00:45:11):

Per, my last email.

Kaelyn (00:45:14):

That's the thing. I don't respond to them at that point and that is, that is a boundary I had to set for myself. It's like if I've told you the information and I don't reply to you, like I'm not obligated to keep restating the same.

Miri (00:45:26):

Restate. Yeah. Telling you that we really want that closure. We want to feel like the conversation has ended. It can't just end.

Kaelyn (00:45:32):

That was a hard mental shift for me was just being like, okay, I'm not responding to this person. I am not used to not responding to people, but I had to because I could spend the rest of my life doing that.

Rekka (00:45:45):

Yup. Yeah. This is the person at the bar who is had too much confidence maybe in this case or or entitlement or whatever and they just won't leave you alone. Do you get up and leave the bar or do you spend the night in jail because you just had to respond and and you know like it, it escalates because these situations tend to escalate and if you start to feel like, Oh my God, I'm never going to get out of this email, that is an escalating situation that you could probably just close the window and not reply to.

Miri (00:46:12):

Yup. Yup. Add that person to your block list,

Rekka (00:46:14):

Yup yup, screenshot the problems. I tend to not delete emails where people are starting to get aggressive just so that I have a record, but that doesn't mean I'm going to reply and it doesn't mean I'm going to leave it in my inbox for me to see every time I go in there. I've got a folder for that.

Miri (00:46:30):

Yup. Yup. Folders and filters go in there and filters go in there when you're well rested.

Rekka (00:46:34):

Or don't go in at all.

Miri (00:46:35):

Or didn't go in at all.

Rekka (00:46:36):

Make it a lobster trap where it's one way only. If you go in there, you're not coming out almost. I need police evidence,

Miri (00:46:44):

so we've talked a lot about having boundaries and kind of knowing what those need to be and not a lot about. It's really hard to know what your boundaries need to be like that. The example I gave of, you know, you say I can do it, I can do it. I can do it right up until you crash in entirely miss whatever it was you needed to do. It's not necessarily that you actually, I'm going to put this on the, on the personal example is not necessarily the, I was realizing and you know, maliciously making the decision to torture myself. I literally couldn't tell that it was going to happen until I've had years and years of heavy duty hobbies working on stuff constantly on the clock, off the clock, whatever it is, and started to identify the signs early of, Oh no, you need to stop because I have gone to urgent care instead of going to a convention that I was preparing for, I have gotten back from trips and just passed out on the floor for 16 hours a day. Do not do that.

Rekka (00:47:47):

I mean, at least make it to the bed.

Miri (00:47:48):

At least make it to the bed are bad for your neck. So if you realize, Oh, I might have a problem with this, uh, start looking for those signs.

Rekka (00:47:57):

Yeah. The nice thing about patterns is that we can analyze them.

Miri (00:47:59):

Yeah. We're really good at that. When we start to pay attention.

Rekka (00:48:02):

When you do an objective, like you can write a list of these are the symptoms, and then when you start to feel the symptoms, like hang that list up where you're going to walk in front of it and go, Oh shoot, Oh shoot. That's like three of them.

Kaelyn (00:48:13):

Just this morning I was just talking to Rekka about this, that like I was, you know, going through a phase of that where it's like I am objectively recognizing that things are happening to me that I know in the past have led to other bad things, but I can't stop and Rekka's like you need, you need to take a breath and you need to kind of like get yourself together here and, but I will say, here's the thing, sometimes things happen in your life that you can't, sometimes there is just a lot to deal with all of a sudden and,

Rekka (00:48:49):

and if you're already taxed by your own decisions, you get to that point and you don't,

Kaelyn (00:48:55):

You don't have, you don't have your writing career and life in a vacuum. Right. You know, you don't see these people and they're like, well, they're doing all of this other stuff. Well here's the thing. Maybe they're at a point in their life, in their career where that can be the only thing they're responsible for or that they have to do. So yes, they have hours and hours a day to spend on this. Judging yourself in the context of other people is never productive.

Rekka (00:49:20):

Yeah. I mean they might be unemployed looking for work, depressed about it and on Twitter because it keeps them from having to think about how they don't have a job.

Kaelyn (00:49:27):

Yeah, so like everyone we've been hearing since kindergarten, don't compare yourself to other people.

Rekka (00:49:33):

I don't think they ever told me that in kindergarten.

Kaelyn (00:49:37):

I went to a very progressive school where we talked a lot about feelings.

Miri (00:49:42):

Oh no, my school was very much compare yourself to other people, be better, do more. And that's how we got here. Actually, I want to follow up on what Kaelyn said. What are, what are some ways to throw up emergency boundaries if you realize this thing has happened. And now my, my threshold for the ability to do writing stuff to do professional stuff is like it's smaller now.

Kaelyn (00:50:06):

Triage method, you got to figure out what's most important that you absolutely have to keep doing. So like if it's, I need to absolutely keep showing up to my job every day. So start there. You know, I must continue to go to work. I must, you know, continue to grocery shop I, you know, things that are just your daily life to keep you going. Stop everything else and then see what you can add back in.

Rekka (00:50:35):

But there's also, what can you actually do that's going to improve the situation? Like what actions can I take that will improve versus I could bang my head against the wall for 17 hours straight and nothing would change. So like, I mean I realize you're not saying prioritize the super important stuff because of course in these moments everything feels super important and overwhelming. But also to judge such things. You have a tendency to want to put effort at the thing that hurts most, but that might not actually improve.

Kaelyn (00:51:08):

I would say that it depends on what the situation here.

Rekka (00:51:13):

Yeah, of course.

Kaelyn (00:51:14):

Sometimes life things just happen and sometimes a lot of times with those life things, you know, depending on their nature, you kind of just have to get through them and wait for them to be over. Like they're a process that like is not going to, there isn't really anything you can do.

Rekka (00:51:34):

For example, grief for example, grief. But allowing yourself to grieve and allowing yourself to heal is the important part of the process.

Kaelyn (00:51:43):

Exactly. But that's what I mean. You just kind of have to get through it. Like it's not something you can say, I'm going to sit down and do this all at once and it'll be done. You have no control over the timeline,

Rekka (00:51:51):

But at the same time, um, gritting your teeth and trying to endure is not actually how you heal in either of those examples. Yeah.

Kaelyn (00:52:00):

Yeah. That's a good point. Um, but those are the things where, I mean more like there are things that you just have to let happen. You can't do anything to make them be over faster. Um, if you, you know, if you try, you're not really like, you're not actually doing it. You're just telling yourself that is, it's done.

Rekka (00:52:17):

And in you're applying mental focus and energy, like, you know, think of your focus time as calories burned, if it, if it helps you imagine the energy you're putting into things. Yeah. Because most people I feel like can understand that as a metric. Um, your brain does use calories. So like we know we're using your brain to think about something else. Those are, you know, that's energy that's not going to like your basic life function. Um, so the more focus and anxiety you dedicate to something, the like that's coming from somewhere else. Yeah.

Miri (00:52:50):

Yeah. And the hard thing in that example is, okay, you're grieving or dealing with illness or whatever, major zero control life thing, building boundaries around the rest of your life so that you can deal with that thing.

Kaelyn (00:53:04):

Yeah. So this kind of stuff, there are a lot of really good online resources for that kind of thing. Like how to deal with grief and death and processing these things. Um, you know, and when I say it like illness, I don't mean even like a chronic thing. I, I got strep throat a few weeks ago. It completely knocked me on my ass and mine didn't even get that bad because I knew I was exposed to it, but like, and it just threw everything out of whack, it sounds like. Oh well, you know, you're just sick for a few days that shouldn't really, you know, impacted -

Miri (00:53:39):

Should is it bad word.

Kaelyn (00:53:41):

Absolutely does. Yeah.

Rekka (00:53:44):

Yeah. And think of like, don't underestimate where you miss one day of homework and we still to make up that homework and then suddenly you're a few days behind and you haven't had, you know -

Kaelyn (00:53:52):

Everything compounds.

Rekka (00:53:54):

- just, and then mentally, the pressure of all that compounds,

Kaelyn (00:53:58):

A bad cold can mess up your, especially if you're already like working to the bone and you know, have very little wiggle room for error.

Rekka (00:54:08):

Yeah. In terms of kind of you're excellent at time management. Something like this can really throw you off and then you are down on yourself because I'm so good at time management. How could I end up so far behind? Even though I have a medical, you know, like a temporary medical condition or even longterm, I'm going to draw an analogy but helped me figure this one out.

Miri (00:54:27):

We're really good at understanding even if we're not able to do it for whatever reason, we're going to understanding that I should have some money set aside for emergencies. Should, should is a bad word. I know, but it is useful to my life.

Kaelyn (00:54:41):

It would be good for me.

Miri (00:54:42):

It would be good for me to have money set aside for emergencies because I understand that things happen.

Rekka (00:54:48):

Yup.

Miri (00:54:49):

But we don't necessarily apply that to our mental and emotional energy. Yeah, and something that hits your mental and emotional stores is at least as likely as something that hits your financial stores.

Kaelyn (00:55:03):

What I was even going to say is, you know like I use the example of like I got strep throat. A bad day has done the same thing to me. Like, and I don't mean like I stubbed my toe. Like, I mean I'm sure we have all had like cosmically hilariously bad days where like the universe is just like anI this now this, now this and you get home and you're like, what is going on? And just needing to, you know, binge watch something on Netflix and relax. And that's the important emotional store to have like this built in because you could just have a really bad day or something could happen that really upsets you. And if you don't address that, that's one thing. But then also if you don't leave yourself the time to work through that,

Miri (00:55:51):

If you're already all the way at your limit all the time and thinking, okay, this is maximum efficiency. I'm using all of my energy for everything and I'm doing as much as I possibly can and this is good and I feel great about it. And then you have one bad day.

Rekka (00:56:05):

The most flexible material in the world still has a point at which it can stretch further or bend no further. I'm not that flexible. I don't know about you, but my skeletons really pesky about like the backbends and everything.

Kaelyn (00:56:18):

I'm overly flexible in ways that I shouldn't be because my joints are all popping in and out of place constantly.

Miri (00:56:23):

I've been told it's really inconvenient to be a carbon based life form.

Kaelyn (00:56:28):

So I'm going to pose a question to both of you guys.

Rekka (00:56:30):

We were not warned about this.

Kaelyn (00:56:34):

No, this is a pop quiz. Um, Miri, we always joke that like, you know, we have the really like solid information, heavy episodes and then we have the more like emotional episodes.

Miri (00:56:43):

This is going to talk about our feelings.

Rekka (00:56:47):

Which we have.

Kaelyn (00:56:49):

Um, everything we've said I think can apply to humans across the board in a lot of respects. Ho. wever, I am kind of of the opinion that writers, I should say creative people in general, but writers where they're kind of trying to make their way into being writers and have to create their own career and build that. Do you think this is especially important for writers as a somewhat unique group?

Miri (00:57:24):

Unique how?

Kaelyn (00:57:27):

Well, like you had mentioned before, you know, the people who have to hustle,

Rekka (00:57:32):

Right, so yeah, I mean I don't think we're unique in that we hustle. I don't think we're unique in that we are quote unquote self employed at least in this sphere. But I think this applies to a lot of not only self-employed but creative self employed people.

Kaelyn (00:57:48):

Definitely.

Rekka (00:57:48):

Um, this could be people who write marketing copy as well as fiction. Um, there is this perception that you have 24 hours in the day. What are you doing with them? Because when you work for yourself, yeah, there's a, there's a comfort that comes from being employed, like having the security security of walking into a job and knowing exactly how many hours you need to spend at that job that day before you leave and go home and you know, on what date and how much you'll be paid. Freelancers, um, and writers can to a very small degree, build a controlled a schedule like that. But there is always the, if I want more I can just do more. If I want to have more books out, I can write more books. Um, so this goes to the boundaries. What is the shape of that process in your life? Is it pound on the keyboard from 5:00 AM until 7:00 PM maybe eat something, then bring the keyboard to the couch, pound on keyboard till fall asleep if you sleep and you know, get up and do it again.

Rekka (00:59:03):

Um, so by taking away the boundary that's set by the daily life of the nine to five American dream job, you have removed a boundary and who disrespects our boundaries than ourselves? I do not know.

Miri (00:59:23):

There isn't any.

Rekka (00:59:23):

No, I mean, I think I've mentioned, um, maybe on the podcast before that I switched jobs, um, in 2018 and began working from home full time. So my writing space had previously been just my writing space and now it was my writing space and doubled as my day job space. And so I had to build a boundary between my writing, quote unquote physical space. Um, and what I did was I created a new login from my computer that when I was going into, right, I logged in as the writer and then when I was logging into my day job, I had to switch and log into my day job.

Rekka (01:00:08):

And that did seem to help because it made me realize consciously like, Oh, if I want to go jog over here and do this thing to this file, I actually have to log out and acknowledge I'm going to spend time doing this now. And then it makes me think, is that what I'm supposed to be doing now?

Kaelyn (01:00:24):

Yeah. You have to, you have to consciously make the decision.

Rekka (01:00:27):

Um, and it's not, and I have it like I have to type in the password. So I like created this delay period where I can go, I'm not even 6:00 AM, why am I logging into my work? No, nevermind. Back out, you know? Um, and then there's also the physical space where I work from home in a home studio where for the first couple of months after I switched the jobs, I was out here til eight or nine at night because I was still working. There was still stuff on the to do list. Here's my secret tip. The to do list will never reach zero.

Miri (01:01:00):

No.

Rekka (01:01:00):

You just have to stop and pick it up again tomorrow. So what I did was I, um, put some lights out here on timers so that they would click off to let me know this is when a normal carbon-based human would exit their office and go home. And you know, you can define those hours as whatever portion of the day. But I mean, think of how we've already talked about you can focus for so long before you burn out. So it's really good to keep in mind how long a normal quote unquote Workday is anyway. And that that might already be kind of pushing the limits. And if you work, it's a horrible like entrepreneurial phrase, but work smarter not harder and it'll sound so awful. But like in terms of -

Kaelyn (01:01:44):

It's kind of valid.

Rekka (01:01:45):

In terms of like work a little bit less but be rusted in and be able to do more. Like I was banging my head against a coding issue that I was having. I went on vacation, I came home, I opened my computer and I solved it. Yup. So unfair.

Miri (01:02:02):

Wild how that happens.

Kaelyn (01:02:05):

All right. So Miri, same question. Do you think that this is anything, you know for, I'll say creative people, but like, right, you know, this is a podcast kind of focused obviously on writing and publishing. Like why is this so important in this community?

Miri (01:02:23):

Especially in this community, especially if there's something unique about this situation of freelancing, hustling created people. It's the confluence of access to an all hours community. A, the access is double-edged access to an all hours community. Uh, sort of endemic, lack of security feeling like, I don't know where my next paycheck is coming from in many cases. Or what if Amazon decides to change the way they do their publishing, um, knowing that you're a very small part of some very large questionably evil systems.

Rekka (01:03:06):

And I, and I know that interrupting Miri's answer to the Kaelyn's question, but I also just want to add in like, and your role models are celebrities.

Miri (01:03:14):

Yeah. That's a very important point.

Rekka (01:03:16):

Stephen King, J K Rowling, you know.

Miri (01:03:19):

Neil Gaiman.

Rekka (01:03:21):

Even, you know, like Brandon Sanderson, um, Patrick Rothfuss, uh, you have people.

Kaelyn (01:03:26):

George RR, Martin,

Rekka (01:03:27):

George Martin and so we've mentioned a couple of them who are dealing with their own boundary and burnout issues. So, um, that, that is quote unquote we're supposed to aspire to. Yeah. And that has a whole nother dimension.

Miri (01:03:42):

And then because we're all interacting in the exact same way, like, you know, you've got George RR Martin's blog or you know, Brandon Sanderson's Reddit posts or whoever's Twitter profiles, we think I am looking at the same type of thing. It is a tweet, therefore it is taking place in the same context and this person is coming from the same place as I am. Um, that tweet is posted by that person assistant. Yes, that person has an assistant, they can pay a full time assistant and you just don't ever know that when you're making those comparisons. But it's the confluence of our role models, our celebrities, lack of security, all hours access to what you could be doing and deep emotional, uh, to the point of fatigue investment in the work that we're creating, which is what separates these creative pursuits from something like freelancing marketing copy. I think, um, you're already going in at a level of emotional fatigue, uh, if you don't moderate it, that is unusual in a lot of these other spaces.

Kaelyn (01:04:45):

I think what is especially unusual with writers, and I can tell you this has happened to me with editors is there is no done. Um, you know, even if you're freelancing writing market copy for instance, there is a point where it's like, okay, I need to give this to someone. So I'm done with it now. Even if, you know, I could sit here and obsess over it for another, you know, two days, but I've got a deadline. I've got to get this best on.

Rekka (01:05:13):

This is perfect.

Miri (01:05:13):

Yup.

Kaelyn (01:05:14):

Yeah. Um, I've got a deadline. Got to give this to someone. Writers, your deadlines are either self-imposed or self-selected. Either you're saying, I must be done by this time or I want it to be done by this time because this is the deadline for something. I want to send it to you, but here's the thing. No one's paying you to get it in by that deadline.

Rekka (01:05:36):

Yeah. Nobody leaves a five star review because you got your book out on time.

Kaelyn (01:05:40):

Well, I'm not even talking about -

Rekka (01:05:42):

No, I know the, the, the, the judgment of the final product is the important thing is the product itself.

Kaelyn (01:05:49):

You can sit and just keep pouring over and keep sending it to readers and keep getting feedback and just get yourself stuck in a loop of that. Um, which I think is fairly unique to writers, even in the context of other creative and freelance types because your deadlines, you're making them yourself.

Miri (01:06:10):

That's not always true. Once you're maybe on a contractor.

Kaelyn (01:06:15):

Well, yes, I'm talking about people that are starting to jumpstart their career.

Rekka (01:06:19):

The, the construct of deadlines can be very helpful. Yeah. Like I could write a book forever and tried because flotsam is a 12 year process before my partner turned to me and said, what if you just finished it? I dragged,

Kaelyn (01:06:36):

Oh, why on earth?

Rekka (01:06:39):

No, but it did kind of make me go, Oh yeah, every man I know I just kind of revise this again and I have an idea. And, and so I go back in and I tack that idea in somewhere and then tried to smooth the wrinkles out through the rest of the thing and it just kept building and building and building until it was an RPG encyclopedia more than a story. So, um, you know, having this concept of I would, I have the goal of doing this by this time is very helpful if it's realistic. Like I had the goal every NaNoWriMo working on the story of revising it by the end of that NaNoWriMo, but I didn't have an end point in mind that really set any realistic or, um, beneficial, um, deadlines for actually releasing the book into the world.

Miri (01:07:29):

Fortunately, it's really easy to estimate how much time something will take. And that's why everyone is very good at it.

Rekka (01:07:37):

Backslash irony. Um, so yeah, the um, the, the concept of like I'm going to, well I always thought every NaNoWriMo was going to mean this book was done and um, and I didn't work out quite so much because by the time I got to the end, I had another new idea that I wanted to squeeze into the same book. So that meant the story idea gremlins. It was like a, uh, an infinite loop of Ooh, and what also, what if, you know, so I had to figure out what I wanted to do and in this case it wasn't work harder, do it again, but perfect time. It was involve outside help.

Miri (01:08:18):

Yup.

Kaelyn (01:08:18):

Yup.

Rekka (01:08:18):

And so I hired an editor and then suddenly within a year I had a publishing contract. I'm not saying it's working, it's not the magic stick for 14 years on each story. And then you will finish it in the following year, in year 15.

Miri (01:08:32):

Once you've hired an editor.

Rekka (01:08:33):

Yeah. Well, yeah. So, I'm not saying that to say that that's the formula to do it, but I'm just saying like, I changed the way I thought about the project. I changed the context under which I was deciding how, how I was going to finish it instead of applying more of my own energy and getting the same result, which was doing it again.

Miri (01:08:51):

Yeah. Rekka did mention how we're very bad at observing our own boundaries, but that is a boundary around yourself. Right. I, um, I'm coming off a three years of doing the same thing of doing the same book for NaNoWriMo and going, but this time it's going to be done reader. It is not done and that's okay. And I'm just going to put it away and work on something else because I had to say, if I can't get this done this time, it is not working and I need to change that. And it's very easy to feel like, Oh, I've failed or I'm losing or whatever it is. But no, it's, you only have so much energy and so many, so many years of NaNoWriMo, so many hours in your life. Um, it's okay to stop yourself if you see yourself going way over what you think should be reasonable. Yeah.

Rekka (01:09:39):

So you set up your boundaries. If you put a moat around your castle, you still have to defend it. Yeah. You still have to defend it.

Miri (01:09:45):

Not have to fill it with sharks.

Rekka (01:09:47):

I'm sorry. I'm messing up our metaphors. If you build a moat around your soccer fields, you still have to defend it with sharks.

Kaelyn (01:09:53):

Thank you.

Rekka (01:09:54):

Yeah. What do you need to do for the rest of the world to know you have them? Do they need to know that you have them or do you just, how do you handle them?

Miri (01:10:04):

It varies based on which boundaries they are. If they're just boundaries around your social media use, for example, um, which could be straight up a social media blocker in your browser, that is a thing that I have that I can click on when I need to. If there are people who might need to get in contact with you and that's a level that you accept and agree is real, then communicating your boundaries to those people is very, very valuable. Like I am on hiatus from Twitter or I'm read only on Twitter. I will communicate with you through this other format or I'm going to be offline but I will get back to you in X time or just putting in your Twitter display name. I'm on hiatus and then, and this is the important part, actually following through with that.

Kaelyn (01:10:49):

See and that's the thing is that like you're, I'm sitting here listening to you talk about like I have a social media blocker that I can put on my browser that would never work for me. I'd just go turn it off and be like, hang on.

Rekka (01:10:59):

At one time I got to do this.

Kaelyn (01:11:00):

I would be like, wait, shoot. I need to check something real quick, click like it would need to be like I have to call Rebecca and she's got to give me the pass code. Like that's the only-

Rekka (01:11:10):

You have to answer three security questions before I do.

Kaelyn (01:11:12):

Well, no, then you go Kaelyn, no.

Miri (01:11:14):

That's, and that's what it's for. That's what record was saying. If you just create the boundary, the line where you can walk up to and say, wait a minute, am I going to do this thing or am I gonna not do this thing?

Rekka (01:11:26):

Do I step over this line?

Miri (01:11:28):

Yep.

Rekka (01:11:28):

Do I cross the bridge under which the sharks are swimming? It is. Okay.

Kaelyn (01:11:33):

You seem to be assuming that I possess a far higher level of impulse control and I actually do.

Miri (01:11:38):

And it's okay to have boundaries that don't work 100% of the time. Good is better than perfect. If you're incrementally improving your situation, that's still worthwhile. Uh, and yes, I do turn the social media blocker off sometimes, but the rest of the time it's there.

Rekka (01:11:52):

And that's again, entrepreneurial phrases that you hear. I was like, do the 20% that gets you more work done than doing the 80% that's just like a little bit of work. Yeah. So like if you turn off a whole bunch of things and then find new distractions, you know, because we're good at this. Yeah. When we want distraction, we find it. You will just find yourself standing in front of the pantry instead of staring at Twitter.

Kaelyn (01:12:18):

Um, do you know how clean my apartment is?

Rekka (01:12:22):

Yeah, exactly. So, um, find the, I guess I would like part of what you're saying is, you know, like if an internet blocker helps you, then that's great. If an internet blocker makes it the next steps, they have longer to go check Twitter because you have to turn off the internet blocker, but you're going to do it anyway then that's not improving your life at all.

Kaelyn (01:12:42):

Right.

Rekka (01:12:42):

And um, you know, like whatever it takes. But also Kaelyn mentioned impulse control. You have better impulse control when you rest just to bring that back around as far as like human physiology. Um, but yeah, like continue what you're saying. I'm sorry we jumped in on that. But like w we are emotionally reacting to everything you're saying because it's true. But also because we feel attacked.

Miri (01:13:07):

I'm attacking myself more than I'm attacking any other team.

Rekka (01:13:09):

I just want to point out for context that um, Miri is wearing a shirt. It's very pretty. It's got flowers and it says, I am very tired.

Miri (01:13:16):

It's designed by a Cara McGee. Uh, you can occasionally find it on her online store, but I saw the design go up online and bought two of them and I have never bought something so fast. Um, but the other kind of boundary that you can have set up and how that relates to communicating it is professional boundaries. And this is that situation where you have a deadline and because your life has gone to pieces through your own actions or the actions of the outside world, you can feel in your soul that you are either not going to make that deadline or not going to make that deadline without grinding yourself into the teeny spaces. But between the carpet nubs, um, that is the same thing. If you can't make the deadline without being a puddle, you cannot make the deadline.

Kaelyn (01:14:04):

The circumstances around why you can't make, it don't matter so much as the fact that you can't.

Miri (01:14:09):

But also the circumstance of I could do it if I just don't sleep for the next 72 hours. That means you can't do it.

Kaelyn (01:14:16):

Yeah.

Miri (01:14:17):

And that is a time when you need to communicate. I can't do it. And you need to communicate that as early as you possibly can. It's, I mean, part of it's honesty with yourself and honestly with yourself is difficult to cultivate. But also if you can't do it, and for the sake of the argument, because I've, I've had this argument with friends, I've had this argument with myself. If you realize you can't do it without going to completely ludicrous extremes, it is better for everyone involved. If you just say that with the maximum amount of time for anybody who's waiting on you or planning for it or dealing with other other wheels of which you are a part can just work that in. And the more, the earlier you can learn to recognize that and like obviously the ideal is that you never take on deadlines you can't meet and everything works perfectly all the time.

Rekka (01:15:07):

But yeah, that happens for quite a few people.

Kaelyn (01:15:09):

Absolutely. A thing that happens to me every day.

Miri (01:15:11):

Yeah. But in this hypothetical scenario where you can't, if you can learn to identify the signs early and either rearrange other things in your life so it doesn't matter, or just identify the signs and go, okay, this is happening. The faster you can communicate that to other people with, you know, whatever. I'm very sorry this is a thing. Um, it's just so much easier for it not to be a big deal at that point. But having to admit, it feels like the biggest deal. Having to admit it is the biggest deal. And this is when we get into that self-defeating. No, I can do it. No, I can do it. I don't have to admit it because it's not true. It's not true.

Rekka (01:15:50):

And it's when you have two hours left that you go, Whoa, God, it's true. And now and now tomorrow is going to come and I won't have this file for the editor and I'm going to have to either keep working on it and maybe I can get it done by midnight on the deadline. Or maybe I can tell them I'm still working on it and I need a couple more days. But that's a scary email to write for some reason. Even though I think most of us deal with reasonable people and I don't know about you, but sometimes I get an email from somebody and says, I'm not going to have that for you for a couple of days. And I go, Oh, thank God I wasn't ready to deal with that.

Miri (01:16:22):

Because we're all having to build our own systems. And any part of that system is -

Rekka (01:16:28):

Is probably also a little overwhelmed.

Miri (01:16:30):

Carbon-based people.

Kaelyn (01:16:33):

Well, speaking of carbon-based people, this one's throat is going like you've been talking for a while.

Rekka (01:16:39):

Yeah. Yeah.

Kaelyn (01:16:40):

So thanks Miri for joining us again.

Miri (01:16:42):

Oh, thanks for letting me talk about boundaries past the boundaries of this timeline.

Miri (01:16:47):

So, um, once again, where can people find you online? Uh, you can find me, hopefully not as frequently as sometimes in the past on twitter@Miribaker or at Miribaker.com, which currently just redirects to my Twitter.

Kaelyn (01:16:59):

We'll link everything in the show notes, you know, if you want to check Miri out, she's like, she's pretty awesome.

Rekka (01:17:04):

Plus the link to that t-shirt. Yes. Oh yeah, let's get the link to the tee shirt if only it were printed in reverse. So when you looked in the mirror, just dragging yourself each time and then you would say, Oh, do I need to reanalyze my boundaries right now?

Kaelyn (01:17:16):

Yup. So, well, um, thanks again everyone for joining us this week. Thank you Miri for joining us. And um, we'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Rekka (01:17:25):

Okay. The conversation ended but it didn't end because after we stopped recording, Kaelyn and Miri and I kept talking about this. In fact, it became the running joke for the rest of Miri's visit that we have to set boundaries. And anytime somebody said, no thank you, we all applauded the use of, uh, healthy boundaries, et cetera. But one thing that we all agreed was worth coming back in and adding a little addendum for this episode on was that these boundaries and healthy use thereof also applies to things you want to do. Um, for instance, you may want to go to every conference, every, you know, throughout the year that you can see your friends at or, um, you may want to, uh, add another project because you're really excited about it. You may want to go participate in a reading. Um, even though you have a deadline coming, you may want to go out with family and friends, you know, things that are pleasant and might be even relaxing if they were to exist in a vacuum.

Rekka (01:18:21):

But because you know, you have to balance all the spinning plates in your life, sometimes you have to say no thank you to positive things as well, um, or figure out how to give up something else if that is something you can or need to prioritize. So anyway, we just wanted to add that because it started to feel as though we were leaning all in toward say no to things that suck, which is definitely true. Definitely say no to things that suck, but also sometimes just recognize when even a lot of fun things might be too many things.

Rekka (01:18:55):

Thanks everyone for joining us for another episode of we make books. If you have any questions that you want answered in future episodes or just have questions in general, remember you can find us on Twitter at w M B cast. Same for Instagram or WMB cast.com if you find value in the content that we provide, we would really appreciate your support@patreon.com forward slash WMB cast. If you can't provide financial support, we totally understand and what you could really do to help us is spread the word about this podcast. You can do that by sharing a particular episode with a friend who can find it useful or if you leave a rating and review at iTunes, it will feed that algorithm and help other people find our podcast too. Of course, you can always retweet our episodes on Twitter. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk.

 

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