This week, I had a meeting of the Mastermind group I belong to with three other health coaches. Last summer, we participated in a visioning retreat in which I unearthed this creative itch that needed to be scratched and it manifested as the desire to engage in creative writing. The coach I paired up with during the retreat noted how passionate I was when I spoke about writing…and so I decided it was time to do something about it.
To make a long story short, I spent several months last fall diving into the writing process. I compiled all of my ideas and inspirations into one notebook. I choose one of the story ideas and I started writing. I blocked time on my calendar each week to do so. I was going strong for a while and then things slowed down over the holidays. Things picked up again for a short time in January after one of the other health coaches turned me on to Masterclass.com and I signed up for the writing class with author Judy Blume. I was inspired by her story and appreciated her advice about the writing process. But gradually over the next month or so, I found myself devoting less and less time to writing. There was always some other pressing project or assignment that needed to be worked on and I stopped making time in my schedule for writing.
I shared my lack of progress with my Mastermind group this week and lamented the fact that my writing had pretty much ceased, although I was not ready to give up on it completely. I questioned though how something for which I had displayed so much passion last summer could fizzle so quickly. One of the other coaches gently shared with me that in her experience with creative professionals, including writers, it takes both desire and discipline to accomplish their creative pursuits. And that it is the discipline that keeps things going when the desire may be lacking.
Ping! The light bulb went off and I realized I had completely lost the discipline when it came to my writing. I was not carving out protected time to devote to this endeavor. In fact, it made me realize that I have not been doing a great job in general with time management, particularly on the days when I don’t work at my part time job. Those days are supposed to be for my other professional pursuits, including my private wellness business, my writing, and my Nia practice. I had started to let personal appointments and errands creep into those days instead of waiting until the weekend. Fridays, which are typically open for me and a great day to devote to creative pursuits like writing, had gradually started to look like Saturdays. I might catch up on email and perhaps draft a blog post, but I’d pretty much call it a day by lunch time and essentially waste the rest of the afternoon tooling around on social media or watching reruns of Friends with my daughter after she got home from school. Not that spending time with my daughter isn’t a good thing, but the TV could wait until after I finished my work.
What I am essentially trying to say is that when I take a good, hard look at my schedule, I have the time to focus on my writing. I just haven’t made it a priority. I have been letting the desire (or recent lack thereof) drive the process, rather than building in the discipline to help sustain my effort regardless of whether the desire is present or not. One of the suggestions I have seen is to write every day, even if it’s just a bunch of gibberish or a stream of consciousness. Oftentimes, we may not feel motivated to work on a task but once we get going, the inspiration comes.
The discussion about my writing was a good wake-up call for me. I am going to take a step back and re-evaluate how best to use my time in order to accomplish all of the things that I have said are important to me, including writing. It may be that I am trying to do too much and if that is the case, I will need to reprioritize and choose the ones that mean the most. Or I may find that there is ample time for all of my pursuits once I establish a little more structure to my schedule and remove some of the “time sinks” that have derailed my efforts in the past. Either way, I am feeling renewed excitement about the possibilities.