I have become a big fan of podcasts. I picked up “Happier” with authot Gretchen Rubin and “10% Happier” with Dan Harris this time last year because I was miserable, riddled with anxiety and depression. Rubin offers practical, everyday suggestions for how to be happier, while Harris attacks the problem from the meditation and spiritual side.
When I ran out of that, in the summer I turned to “Happier in Hollywood,” which is fun even if you’re not in Hollywood or a TV writer.
I recently discovered “Hurry Slowly” by Jocelyn K. Glei, which has become my favorite. It’s “about how to find more creativity & meaning in our daily lives” and has made me completely change the way I think about my own creative efforts and my ideas about productivity.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to cram the square peg of creativity into the round hole of Google calendar in the name of the holy god Productivity. Occasionally I bemoaned the lack of creative flow during the times I planned to write, telling myself that “butt in chair time” was paramount to getting my books written along with everything else I had chosen to pile on my shoulders.
It’s true that sometimes you have to make yourself sit there and you cannot wait until inspiration strikes, but it is also true that you have to allow time and space for the moments when inspiration does flow. For me, this is usually when I have planned to do something else (typical Rebel).
Creativity cannot always be scheduled like home organizing sessions. It’s good to set aside the time to do it, and research has shown that doing the creative thing at the same time every day helps jump-start the brain for that activity, but don’t limit yourself to those times and don’t feel obligated to sit in a chair for an unproductive 4 hours.
Sit for 30 minutes and if nothing happens, do something that will get the creative juices flowing. This is not social media, surfing the net, or watching TV. Take a walk. Do yoga. Go for a hike in the woods. Fold laundry Mindless household chores work great for me, no lie. For one thing, they’re boring. For another, I often pretend I am a character doing this menial task and inevitably they start talking to another character. Voila! I have a conversation.
So far, it’s working, and I think it will continue to do so. I don’t know if it’s all the work I’ve been doing with my hands (on my son’s cosplay) or binging so much Netflix this week, but my creativity well has been flowing freely. Thursday I wrote an effortless 1100 words and on Friday 1200 more. Sunday and Monday were the same.
Clearly, something is working.
Glei also discusses the effect that email, interruptions, and social media have on our lives, which has made me take a long, hard look about the mindless minutes and hours I’ve spent on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of one episode, she discusses how we’ve become like sportscasters for our own lives, broadcasting events on social media.
Thus made me take a hard look at my Facebook use. Why is it that I have felt compelled to share my life, my horses, and the funny things the kids say with the world of Facebook? And why do I feel like posting but hardly ever call my mom or dad to talk to them about these things? It’s like I have chosen a superficial relationship over real ones. Why would I find that preferable?
Until I have an answer to those questions, social media will no longer be given the gift of my time and attention. And is that really how I want to spend my life? I say that writing novels, reading, and drawing are priorities in my life, but if that’s really true if I’m frittering my time away posting ephemera?
I have frequently felt like there wasn’t enough time for reading in my life, which is crazy because it’s one of my favorite things to do. Also, I can’t be a good writer if I’m not first a good reader. Once my Facebook usage dropped by 90%, I magically discovered the time to read.
My goal for 2020 is to continue along this path of learning to hurry slowly. Hopefully it will be a lifelong focus. It just might lead me to great things.