|Photo by Anupam Mukherjee on flickr.com,
I love the Writing Studio, love working with writers, but, like everyone else, I have days where I don’t want to go to work or, worse still, shouldn’t be at work. I may be unwell, sleep-deprived, or preoccupied with something else. Whatever the reason, on those days I have to work harder at being present.
When I’m not at my best, my focus shifts inward and I find it difficult to connect with the writers and their writing. I become distracted, bored, negative. I don’t care much about outcomes and all students seem like whiners. Tutoring becomes a job. I have even dozed off momentarily during a consultation (and hoped fervently that the client didn’t notice).
To avoid this situation, I have learned to ask a lot of questions during the consulting session. Asking questions places me in the role of listener and observer and places my focus on the client, where it belongs.
Between sessions, I find that getting out of my chair and walking somewhere during my 10-minute breaks is much more effective than checking my phone or net surfing. My mind needs a break.
If I still cannot focus, depending on the writing situation, I might suggest that the writer spend 5 – 10 minutes free writing, drafting or revising a paragraph, or creating a reverse outline while I give the writer some privacy (by taking a quick walk). This method benefits both writer and consultant.
When pressed for time, I suggest we both stand and move around for a seventh inning stretch. This is a particularly helpful approach when I sense that the writer is as disengaged as I am. Physical movement increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, and this tactic saves valuable consultation time.
Of course, the best method is prevention. When under stress of any kind, I work on getting regular sleep and balanced nutrition, and hydration. I take the time to chat with coworkers or friends. In other words, self-care is essential for anyone in the service industry, and writing consultants offer a highly personalized service.