As a professional writer and writing and creativity coach I am constantly juggling time and space for writing and revising my own books with the work I do with other creatives. Add to the schedule parenting our almost-four-year-old; time with my husband when we actually get to play; time with friends; and time to get on the trail with the dogs. I am no longer juggling, I’m a one-woman circus: lion tamer, clown, trapeze artist, elephant girl, and barker rolled into one.
This brings me to the importance of getting away-even when you don’t believe you can.
1) Make plans in advance to leave your house and your everyday life behind, at least for a week or two. I’m working on a new book. I began that book when I was in San Miguel de Allende in February. I was invited to Mexico to present at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and also to teach a weeklong fiction writing intensive. The experience was fun and it also juiced me creatively. The chance to connect with other writers (with people who choose to explore the mysteries of life through words and images) is always energizing. It gives us creative permission to express our vision with no strings attached. We all need the company of other writers and creatives. We need creative community, and we’re fortunate to live in an age when we can connect with and find company anywhere in the world.
2) Get away even when you can’t leave home. I started attending Summer Writing Camp this past weekend. Michael took our daughter and drove to Phoenix, in part so I could have time to write. (He’s a wonderful guy!) I went to writing camp. I didn’t actually GO anywhere. I started my own writing camp. I set goals for myself (Saturday: fill in the missing section of chapter two; daydream the next scene in chapter four). I used some of the same tools I suggest for my clients: 1) dedicate each day to something or someone inspiring; 2) begin the writing day with a ten-minute “Vent” exercise (I write for 10 minutes giving voice to the parts of me that absolutely do not want to write, as well as the parts of me that are driven maniacally to have written; after ten minutes are up, I am done hearing from those voices for the day.); 3) sit for 15 minutes in a meditative mind state; 4) get some exercise; 5) complete my daily writing goals; 6) set attainable goals for the next writing session.
I’m still attending writing camp even though I’m sitting in my office and I have to pick up my daughter from summer day camp in one hour. Each week I look for slots in my daily schedule when I can devote at least a few hours to my new book. Voila–instant Summer Writing Camp. If there’s something creative you want to do and you can’t seem to find the time to get at it, think about sending yourself to camp! When you get there, send me a postcard.
PS I highly recommend the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with writers, publishers, agents, and editors. It’s small! It’s fun!!