The Importance of Giving Space

I just completed Day 5 of my write everyday challenge. Here is a quick overview of my experience and early thoughts.

The Exercise

For 30 minutes (a hard 30 minutes, not a moment less, not a moment more) I free-wrote. For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, freewriting gives the writer space to just write. Sometimes, the exercise involves a topic or point of inspiration, but the most important element is to write for the entire duration of the time allocated to the activity.

At first, I intended to free-write every morning. And I did. For the first morning. After that, it fell to the late evening one night and I haven’t been able to get it done in the morning since.

I choose not to share this anyone I knew personally. Not my boyfriend, not my coworkers and definitely not on Facebook. Why? Because I didn’t know if I could do it. Lately (and what I mean is the last two year), I’ve really struggled with time management. If I couldn’t allocate time to write, would I want to write at all?

While I contemplated the exercise for the last month, I decided to commit after I was selected to facilitate a workshop at a writing conference. While I do write sporadically, I did not have any sense of commitment to it. The purpose of this exercise was to provide a sense of structure without being formulaic. Thirty minutes (and I cannot stress that it was a true 30 minute session) was enough time for me to just write.

The Lesson

Freewriting is a great exercise in and of itself. It is an excellent way to get your fingers moving over the keyboard or pen across paper.

For me, the lesson was the importance of giving myself space to write. I allowed myself one- 30 minute session every day. I allocated time in my busy schedule to write.

Now, this may seem simple. Obviously, I should have seen it from the beginning, but I have become a work-as-fast-as-you-can-because-it-was-due-yesterday kind of person. When I am busy, it is easy for me to fall into the I-just-want-to-move-on-to-the-next-thing mentality.

This exercise forced me to stop and write.

I started to think about other times where I have allowed myself space to do something. Sometimes, space means letting the toddler’s bedtime ritual unfold even if it’s nearly 9:30 p.m. Sometimes, it means giving us permission to be late to an event because getting there on time is just not going to happen. Sometimes, space means that during a rainy afternoon, I am not going to fret about homework, but that I will be present as I read books to the toddler and play with blocks.

In busy lives, it is important to give ourselves space to be present in our lives.

 

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Hello Again Writing World: Or The Plan to Reignite My Writing Flame

Notebook and pen

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything worth sharing (and I’m not sure if this really counts). But I’m here to share some news and a scheme that, I hope, will keep me honest. I’ve recently been selected to participate in a writing conference (which I am absolutely excited about). However, I want to bring something more to my discussions than last year and want to conduct a little experiment.

I will write. Every. Day.

So in addition to working full-time, taking courses towards my master’s degree, playing with my now 19 month old daughter, house-searching and generally trying to lose weight, I will write every day for 30 minutes.

My current scheme is to take time to write first thing in the morning. I am a morning person, so I think a 30-minute writing session could be manageable as I drink my coffee.

I’ll start June 1 and post weekly updates on my honest progress.

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Detoxing: Removing the “Busy” From My Life

It took me eight weeks to truly embrace being a stay-at-home mom. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can completely embraced the idea yet, but I am miles beyond where I was two months ago.

Like I’ve indicated within some of my posts, I was a bit of a workaholic. Not only did I enjoy working for pay, but I also enjoyed volunteering in my community. I looked for opportunities where I could positively impact the world around me and dedicated hours that could go to sleeping, relaxing, dreaming, to that cause. I loved projects. I loved late nights and early mornings. I loved to be busy.

In American culture, we often discuss the glorification of “busy.” How many activities can we add to our week? How many hours can we squeeze into our already work-driven lives? What is the impact of this “busy”-ness on our psyche, our health, our relationships?

I’ve always imagined myself to be a writer. As a child, I enjoyed writing short stories that featured my favorite Barbie doll, created an imaginary situation or emulated a recent movie, book or TV show. However, as an adult, I found that I had less and less energy and focus to write. Beyond some scribes in a notebook or a haphazard thought before I fell asleep, all aspirations of “becoming” a writer fell to the wayside. My hourly wage was more than I could make as a young writer.

Before I knew it, I fell into the “busy” lifestyle.

It took my pregnancy for me to realize that I was running at an unsustainable level. I worked two jobs, applied to graduate programs, developed a community band for my hometown’s anniversary celebration. Forget writing. I could barely stay awake to play a video game or watch TV with my boyfriend.

It became my intention to “detox” the “busy” from my life. I completed my projects, reduced my workload and tried to ease into stay-at-home motherhood. I still had great aspirations for my time at home. I planned to clean, remove the clutter that had accumulated, finish some projects, sell old textbooks online, etc. I planned to write and I enrolled in an online master’s program.

After my daughter was born, I quickly realized that it would be much more difficult to complete whatever tasks I thought I would be accomplish while being constantly distracted by the adorable changes in my growing little girl. The clutter remains. Laundry is only done when absolutely necessary. Books remain on the bookshelf and I have finally started writing again.

Despite the fact that I am still enrolled and currently excelling in the one class I am taking, I’ve realized that I did glorify the “busy” lifestyle. I now tell people who ask me when I will complete my program that I am in no rush to finish it early. Again, to be honest, taking a master’s level online course is much more difficult with a little baby than I had anticipated.

I look back on these last eight weeks and I realized that I removed a substantial stress from my life. I move a lot slower now and take real care for my family’s well-being. I find myself embracing the new moment to moment movement of my life. My life now has a sense of fluidity that I have never adopted so eagerly before now.

*These are just my thoughts on my experiences. I know that many parents need to balance work and family. Props to those to do it and do it well. 

I spend too much time on Pinterest

I feel as if I am one of those really annoying dieters. I talk a lot about dieting, do it for a few weeks and then fall back into my old habits. However, I would replace the word “dieting” with the word “writing.”

Hello, my name is Sara and I am a binge writer.

For a week or two, maybe a few more than just a few days, my thoughts are consumed with writing. What will I say? What witty observation can I make about myself, or life, or social events that others will be able to relate to? How can I use vocabulary that will interest my readers but will also inspire them to think out of the box? What are my goals with writing this piece? Or that piece? Or using this word?

Yes, it is rather obsessive. But again, how many dieters do you know who will obsess over the products they put into their bodies? I know several.

And, I suppose that if we are going to continue with the dieting analogy, then Pinterest is my secret stash of chocolate I save for “emergencies.” This is, of course, all fine and dandy except for the fact that the definition of what actually constitutes an “emergency” is a little blurry:

  •  A bad day at work, an hour of searching through DIY projects will cheer me up.
  • I want to go shopping, but my rather limited bank account stops me, so let me just cruise around the Women’s Fashion pages as I look for new ways to wear the clothes I already have.
  •  I’m bored and my boyfriend is playing video games. Pinterest it is.

Just as dieters have books on nutrition, weight loss, and alternative usages for cauliflower (yes, thank you Pinterest), I have stacks of books and magazines dedicated to the craft. And they get about as much use as the scale I hide in my bathroom.

Just a quote about writing.

So what do I do? Well, the proverbial “they” say that the road to change begins with admitting that change needs to happen. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to delete my Pinterest account just yet.

I wrote this post didn’t I?

Just a quote about writing.