On Being Busy

A few months ago, I was giving a talk at a writers’ group on how to stay motivated to write even when faced with rejection and other challenges. During the Q&A session afterward, several of the writers asked about finding time to write.

There are many questions that I don’t know the answer to, such as “Why is the sky blue?” “Where can I find the time to write?” is one of those questions. I have no idea where you’re going to find the time to write. I only know that if it matters to you, you will.

But I didn’t give that answer, not wishing to appear ungracious. I said a few of the usual bromides: don’t watch so much television, schedule your writing time as if it were an appointment, choose your own priorities. Most of the people just wanted reaffirmation that they could privilege their writing, allow it to be more important than dusting the coffee table, and I was happy to oblige. But as usual there was one writer in the crowd who absolutely could not find the time to write today, this week or even for the next several months. Absolutely not.

I asked if she thought there was any way she could even spare even a few minutes a day to do some journaling — any kind of writing that would keep her creative habit going. But there was absolutely no way. She had a job, and kids, and a husband, and some after-work events and family commitments and so on and so forth.

I said, “Okay.” And shrugged. You win, I wanted to tell her. But take a good look at what you win before getting all excited about it.

I am not the first person to point out that as a species we are all so in love with our busy-ness competition that we lose sight of the fact that winning it generally means we don’t have any idea of what’s really important in our lives. We just rush around and rush around, letting other people with other agendas tell us how to live.

I’m betting you, like me, spotted the flaw in the writer’s argument about being too busy to write. If she was too busy to write, and writing is important to her, what was she doing listening to me talk? She could have been using that time to write.

But very often we don’t see the obvious because we’re so busy (ha ha) making our circumstances fit our beliefs. We believe we’re too busy to write (or to pick up men or to learn Sanskrit), and we make that belief come true without even thinking about it.

If there’s something important you want, claim it. Don’t let your ego and your untested beliefs get in your way.

A few of my favorite things

LESSONS IN MAGIC
A CERTAIN KIND OF MAGIC
THE IMPROBABLE ADVENTURES OF A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN
DOJO WISDOM FOR WRITERS

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