Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. —Twyla Tharp
Fitting It All In
One of the most common questions I get from people who want to devote more time to writing is, “How do you fit it into your day?” These people are juggling work and/or family along with volunteer commitments and a million other things. They’re busy! And, for some of us, when we’re busy, our creative work is the first thing to fall off the calendar. It’s important, but perhaps not that urgent.
I earned my master’s degree in writing at a low-residency program. Every semester, we would spend ten days on campus attending lectures and workshops on writing. By the mid-way point of these ten-day residencies, most of the students would have an emotional moment involving tears or rage. The common wisdom held that the experience was so intense that people needed to let off a bit of steam, like a teapot at the boil. I’m sure there was an element of this. But I also observed that our packed schedule left little time or mental space for writing. And I know one thing for sure—writers who are not writing are not happy. I always felt certain that this had something to do with those emotional moments at the midpoint of the residency. We spent our days talking about writing, learning about writing, evaluating writing, and reading the work of writers we admired. But we did not write. That was like living in a bakery and being forbidden to ever touch the cookies. After a while, it makes one sad.
Non-Writing Writers Are Miserable
This experience is part of the reason that I know how important writing truly is. For most of us, the written word is how we process and understand the world. Without it, we are unable to focus, we’re more tired, and we are bothered by the constant unsettling feeling that there is something vital that we have left undone.
If you are someone who is trying to fit writing (or any creative pursuit) into your crowded life, please try to remember that this is a vital form of self-care. It is as important as eating nutritious foods, and it will pay off in the same way--with improved focus and energy for every aspect of your life. For writers, writing is not optional. Even a few minutes a day will impact the remaining hours, and will carry over positive benefits to your job, family, or volunteer commitments. You deserve this gift to yourself, and so do those around you.
Small Wins Are Still Wins
This week, try setting both a (realistic) goal for your writing an intention to keep it. The daily prompts are a great way to achieve something in a very limited amount of time. You can use them to experiment with your work-in-progress, to generate all new ideas, or simply as an exercise to warm up your creative brain before diving more fully into a project. And don’t forget that there is a timer located on the profile drop-down menu at the top left of the nav bar. Even fifteen minutes can give your day a reset.