Redesigning life to accommodate more writing time requires many adjustments and compromises. But all the efforts are well worth it. Reorganizing my life around writing has brought a level of excitement that I have never experienced before. It’s like preparing for an adventure.
There is a plethora of advice from popular writers and as always, they provide guideposts to help us along the writing path. As I’ve mentioned in another blog post, I never received formal training as a writer. Three months of writing classes during summer school was all the education I received. Everything else I learned from reading and sheer determination.
I’ve written two books for children before: one was a retelling of Philippine folktales and legends, and the other one was a retelling of childhood incidents in the lives of five Filipino heroes. It was a wonderful experience, but the books were written out of need: the company I was working for needed a product to sell and I delivered the goods.
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self, ” Cyril Connolly said way back in 1933. This is one advice I’ve taken to heart as I planned my life around writing a book – and I know that it’s the reason why it’s been stress-free (so far). With no obligations to anyone other than myself, I have been free to set my intent on why I am embarking on this writing project: because it is a process I want to experience, and I want the experience to be fun. Again, I give thanks that I have another source of income, otherwise, I would not be able to undertake this project with the same excitement and fun that I am having now.
Planning included scheduling, and again, I looked for mentors on how to plan my writing life. Considering that I have therapy work plus the chores and responsibilities that come with caring for 23 rescued animals, I knew I needed to create a schedule that would be workable and would allow me to maximize the time allocated for all the work I have to do.
Chase Jarvis wrote a blog post, Do Less = Do More. The Art of Being Creative + Productive, where he showed a snapshot of his workday, and oh, am I green with envy! He has 2-hour lunch breaks! Jarvis formulated his work schedule based upon Tony Schwartz’s article, Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, which was published by the New York Times. Schwartz writes, “More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”
According to Schwartz, research indicates that taking breaks after working for 90 minutes allows us to work more productively. Although I don’t have the luxury of 2-hour lunch breaks, I’m happy that I was able to come up with a schedule that gives me a 90-minute writing period six times a week (apart from early morning writing and journaling).
Another blog post that proved very helpful and encouraging because it echoed my desire to slow down was featured in The Freelancer by Contently. In his post, The Power of Slow: How Busy Freelancers Enhance Productivity by Working Smarter, Herbert Lui enumerated five principles which he says, “designers, authors, and developers are using to be less like the hare and more like the turtle.” They are very good reminders that are designed to prevent burn out.
And finally, Habit Fields by Jack Cheng helped guide me through the process of introducing another habit into my life. I hope you’ll find the time to read this post. As an energy therapist, I know that energy exists in all things and affects all of us. In the process of redesigning my life, I knew very well that there were little details that needed careful attention so that the new project would not get mired with writing habits I had already formed. This blog post was an invaluable resource.
It’s been a fun week, and I’m off to a great start!
How has it been with your writing life?