Friday, March 13, 2009

the hard part--being still

I'm pretty good at being busy (though I may complain about it at the time). I'll be writing a book, coaching soccer, managing our garden, setting up a writing workshop, managing a couple other groups. For my writing, I might go back and forth between two or three different projects. Some of these projects (especially novels) require steady work over several years, day in and day out.

But sometimes, especially after the long projects are completed, I actually need to force myself to sit still and be quiet. I need to read big piles of novels and plays. I need to refill my creative buckets and actively try not to be so busy for a while. It's not that I don't like doing it--I definitely do--but I get antsy. I've worked hard to be disciplined about writing over the years, so I take my work days pretty seriously and try not to waste time (though blogs and emails don't help). For me, it's comforting to have a definite amount of output every day, pages or words written or revised. I feel like I'm proving to everyone (and myself) that I'm working hard and not a bum (even if I'm not making much money).

Right now though, part of my job for the next month or two is to read, think, pace, refill, and stop being so busy, and to give myself the space and permission to do so. Funny how the things that sound easy can be the hardest.


Erin said...

I find that too: it's really easy to let that sitting time get sucked into little projects: cleaning out a closet, running errands, frittering on the internet. That was one of the great things about my train trip across the country this fall: I spent serious chunks of time just sitting, watching the scenery, listening to people, and restocking the reserves.

Patrick Gabridge said...

A cross-country train trip sounds just ideal. I've done it from Illinois to Colorado, but it'd be great to do it all the way from east to west coast.