Ziggy with serious face

Foxy by 40 – Deadlines like the Dickens

Things I Briefly Convinced Myself I Needed, While Perusing Instagram In The Midst Of Deadline Denial:

  1. Microbladed eyebrows
  2. A gigantic, arm-knitted blanket
  3. Vitamin C serum
  4. A second cat, in a contrasting colour scheme to the first one
  5. An Instant Pot
  6. Three new haircuts
  7. Adult ballet lessons
  8. Approximately 27 new novels
  9. A turmeric latte*

In other news:

It has been four months since my last Operation Foxy By 40 update. There are now less than SIX MONTHS until the Big Four Oh. I’d say I’m feeling approximately 67% foxier than when the Project began in November 2015. I am taking better care of myself. I have finished one (1) very basic sewing project. I am eating the vegetables. I am getting out of my own way, more often.

Except… when I’m not!

One of the more delightful things that’s happened over the past few months is having some cool and interesting new work come my way. The brain has been stretched and challenged in unexpected and exciting ways. I’ve had to learn new things and crawl out of my comfort zone (it was so cosy there, with fluffy blankets and Netflix and cake crumbs everywhere).

But it also meant coming smack bang up against my doubt and old bullshit stories. I wound myself up into such a ridiculous state of panic, questioning who the heck was I to think I could do this kind of work. All the exercise and meditation and getting dressed properly went out the window. I couldn’t write here for a month, fearing if I put down some words, it would deplete the available supply for my clients.

This will pass! Feelings come and go, just like the tide! I’d remind myself as I frantically searched for “relaxing music” and “how to stop panicking” on YouTube. Fair enough. So, shitty feeling, when are you going to bugger off? Can you give me an ETA?

The night before a big deadline, I ended up plonked at the bottom of the stairs weeping to Gareth, “I AM JUST TOO STUPID FOR THIS. I’ve actually hit the limits of my brain!”.

I made it in the end, all thanks to the magic of humans. Firstly, Gareth, who managed to keep a straight face throughout, and suggested I talk to my professional writer friends. And so, Gillian and Julia gave me the best advice.

Afterwards, elated yet highly embarrassed at my batshit bonkers behaviour, I posted about the “process” on Up & Running forum and discovered that of course I’m not alone.

It gets big and messy before it gets structured and concise, said the awesome A. Even knowing this, it’s still usually pretty ugly producing something good that didn’t previously exist.  

You have just described every single goddamn writing project I have ever engaged in, said the wonderful Professor K. And, like you, I write for a living (along with teaching). Did Dickens feel this way, I wonder??!!

As I toddle towards the next deadline, I choose to believe that he did.


*That last one was made up. I am not on board with the turmeric latte. Keep it in the curry, I say!

P.S. This post actually written on 13 April despite the time stamp… arrgh!

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

14 thoughts on “Foxy by 40 – Deadlines like the Dickens

  1. Some guy wrote me a letter and suggested turmeric as a cure for my headache. I only remember this because he didn’t include a greeting or explain why he was writing to me or anything. The first line of the letter was something like, “One teaspoon of turmeric, daily.” Then he suggested I wear ankle weights. Definitely one of the weirder letters I’ve received.

  2. I am firmly convinced that meltdowns are Part Of The Process. If I haven’t completed a piece of writing that didn’t make me cry, it’s never a good piece of work!

    I always take off the rest of the day when it hits and make sure I do something completely veg, like Netflix binge, for the evening. Next day, after sleep and tea, I feel like I am so bloody awesome I could do anything including this puny project that was too big and hard yesterday. :bicep flex emoji:

    1. “If I haven’t completed a piece of writing that didn’t make me cry, it’s never a good piece of work!” – YES! Hehehehe!

      “Next day, after sleep and tea, I feel like I am so bloody awesome I could do anything including this puny project that was too big and hard yesterday.” DOUBLE YES! It’s always such an elated/sheepish feeling! 🙂

  3. I have just turned 40 last week and learnt three things in the process.

    1. By planning fun occasions and celebrating the hell out of it, my 40th became a joyful occasion, rather than one to fear/avoid/ignore. I had such a great time celebrating that I can only reflect on turning 40 in a joyful way now. I’ve created lovely memories that I’m already looking back on fondly.

    2. Do it your way. I don’t really like big boozy nights anymore so I had a High Tea party in the afternoon, with all the champagne and scones I could find. Much more me, and less stressful than a big party.

    3. It wasn’t all about me! A lot of my enjoyment came from seeing my friends and family catching up around me. My party was a great excuse for my Mum to catch up with my friends, my brother to show off my nephew and for other people to reconnect. By hosting a party I created a happy occasion for others and that was really satisfying too.

    Good luck with your birthday plans, do something fabulous and really mark the occasion.

  4. ok, the instant pot is amazing. seriously. and it’s NOT non-stick–so it makes me feel better about preparing food in it. I actually gave away my beloved (and slightly flaky) rice cooker after buying the instant pot. it’s awesome.

    ps–I will be 40 in a little over 6 months. I feel you.

  5. Turmeric latte: just say no.

    I have been trying some new things in my non-work life and there have been several panic attacks, sometimes accompanied by weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. In the end, of course, everything works out and I feel like an idiot for wasting so much time and energy on self-doubt. I’m starting to think that part of the process is necessary, though, something like rainy days leading to beautiful flowers.

    Happy Friday!

    1. “I’m starting to think that part of the process is necessary, though, something like rainy days leading to beautiful flowers.” – that is beautiful! yes!

  6. And here I thought the turmeric latte was in reference to that “golden milk” trend. (Which, for the record, isn’t bad although I STRONGLY recommend steeping the spices in the hot milk and then discarding them, rather than keeping them all in and getting a mouthful of gritty, bitter ick sitting at the bottom of your cup.)

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