How to reclaim your life and energy for your art
In my last post, “Busting the writing myth of ‘not enough time,’” I wrote about author Heather Sellers’ belief that this concept of not having enough time is really a misdiagnosis of what ails us as writers. Our real problem, she says, is that we try to be, “everything to everyone,” and, as a consequence, become drained. We literally don’t have enough energy left to finish our writing projects.
I definitely fall into this category. I run a busy, full-time business with my hubby where I often begin work around 8 a.m. and work up until the time I drop into bed around 11pm to midnight. Yes, we take breaks during the day—lunch, dinner, exercise (hopefully), and we have the freedom to do what we want, when we want, but it’s a hectic lifestyle. I struggle with fitting my writing time in early in the day before I become too tired to do anything but drool on the keyboard.
In her book, Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams, Sellers suggests making a list of everything we do in a week.
My list looks something like this: get up, make coffee, drink coffee and go through business e-mail while waking up, respond to any emergencies, mark e-mails to respond to later, delete spam, answer phones, answer more business e-mail, take a peek at Facebook (try not to fall in the looking glass), take my supplements, make a green drink or other breakfast-type food, answer more phone calls, take orders, talk to customers, do remote sessions, conference calls, do any shipping for the day, process orders, send invoices, do any training that needs to be done that day, do the banking, pay bills, go to the post office, run errands, grocery shop, do the dishes, do the laundry, pick up the house (we work from home), occasionally take a day to clean out my avalanche of an office, feed the cats, make dinner, eat dinner in front of the TV, (mostly I watch movies or shows I’ve recorded that I can analyze in a writerly way), answer any calls and respond to any e-mail that comes in during the evening, do other business or house projects after dinner, go to bed and read for an hour before falling asleep. Oh, yeah, and somewhere in here write and try to be creative.
Once you make your list, Sellers says to look at your list to see what GIVES you energy and what drains your energy. Circle the things that drain your energy and make a promise to stay away from those things.
In my case, I don’t really do much socializing. My ideal “social activity” is to curl up with a book on the couch and DO nothing. Occasionally, I need to remind myself that I am a human BEING and not a human DOING.
What feeds me? Free writing. Letting myself go and forgetting about my internal editor and what she says I “should” be writing. Also, reading or free writing in the sauna before I even open my computer for the day. On the occasional mornings that I do this, the sauna is my retreat—a little sound proof box where I can sit and be alone and let my creativity come out and play.
What else feeds me? Learning my craft—reading nonfiction books about writing, listening to other writers speak at conferences, taking online classes, feeding and nourishing my muse.
Exercise also makes me feel good. Once I actually get moving, I always feel better.
And, I love talking to customer and clients. Mostly. There are a few rough ones but they make the nice ones oh-so-much-nicer to work with.
Because I run a business, I can’t really cut out the things that drain me but I can delegate some of the work to my very-part-time helper and I can learn to do the other things at a time that is NOT my “prime” time.
I’m making little changes. For the month of January, I’ve committed to go to bed an hour earlier so I can wake up an hour earlier and use that time to write. Want to join me?
Take five minutes and make a list of everything you do in a typical day. Circle or bold the things that feed you and make a commitment to do more of these things.
Then underline the items that drain you. Make a goal to eliminate these things or, if they are “have to’s” then find a time to do them that is not during your prime time.