Productivity and PMS

Since having children, I have noticed more than ever before in my life, just how PMS (pre-menstrual stress) affects my writing and author life.

I’m female, almost 39, and while I was pregnant and breastfeeding my second child, I didn’t have a menstrual cycle for almost 2 years. I definitely experienced a variety of hormones and particularly the more notable tiredness of motherhood, but I didn’t experience the same kind of mood swings that I have since my cycle has returned. I know these moods are no worse than they were prior to having kids, but I have a lot more clarity around how PMS hormones affect me as a writer and how I should treat myself in light of that.

When I have PMS I feel a general kind of sadness, some hopelessness, and even a sense of failure. I am plagued with a lot more doubts about what I am doing and feel tempted to give up. I find it hard to make simple decisions especially with regard to self-promotion, marketing and advertising. I struggle to write status updates, or I write more negative ones – which is fine, especially in the sense of being authentic, but can sometimes wind up being discouraging instead of encouraging. And my writing during that time of the month is often poor and requires additional editing or to simply be thrown out!

Since I’m aware of all this, I am now able to go about writing and marketing in a more productive manner. I know that during PMS I am better off not pushing myself to write or edit the book I’m currently working on, unless I have a clear direction about what comes next in the story. I am better off doing other tasks that need to be done, but require perhaps a bit less brain power:

1. Reading! As writers we always need to be reading and reviewing other authors’ works. If I can’t concentrate on writing because of hormones, then I will turn to reading

2. Sorting my work space. This helps clear the mind as well as the desk

3. Watching continuing education videos like InkersCon; TikTok and YouTube videos relevant to my writing topics; listening to relevant podcasts

4. Generally socializing with other authors and readers online whether that’s on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or wherever.

5. Spending time in the outdoors to gain a fresh perspective

6. A little bit of brain-storming – particularly about time wasters I may need to get rid of, or ideas about how I want to simply my daily writing life. However I try not to make final decisions until during my period

I have found that during my period is often a really good time for clearing junk and clutter, whether that be physical mess or a writing mess. When you think about it, the body is eliminating something it no longer needs and so a woman’s frame of mind at the time is often one of elimination, simplification, sorting and organizing. This seems like the most ideal time to plan out the next cycle of work. Yes, I do mean that your writing cycle may benefit from following your hormonal cycle. Do the bulk of your writing and editing after your period, during those weeks before PMS strikes again and eventually your period begins.

It also stands to reason that the most creative time of the month is during ovulation! Your body is putting out all this juicy, hungry energy and is trying to create new life! You will probably crate your best work and formulate new ideas during ovulation. So, if you know how to track or approximate ovulation, make sure there is time in your schedule for your creativity to be thoroughly expressed at this time of the month. Prioritize writing, marketing, advertising etc. around your menstrual cycle to maximize productivity at the most appropriate times.

Interestingly, I wrote this blog during PMS because that is when I am at my most critical and analytical.

Keep up the good work, female writer friends!!

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