Putting in the Time: How Taking Creative Control Helps All Aspects of My Life
Life is hard. Writing is hard. Writing and having an entire life outside of writing? Extra hard.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about the tools I’ve developed to make it possible for writing to be more of a priority in my life. Since then, it has not been the easiest of things for me to actually...do those things.
It’s always hard to find balance, whether between work and life or life and relationships, or life/relationships/work/writing/AHHHHHHHH!!! It’s as though we are each on a balance beam at the Olympics getting ready to perform a routine, but none of us have the necessary training and there’s yelling, cheering, pressure, expectation—wow, how are we even supposed to do this?
And so I have my routines and my tools, my writing groups and my to-do lists. I pay to use a coworking space every month and listen to podcasts and make friends with other listeners.
It has helped me find balance, amazingly! The to-do lists keep me on track, my dedicated writing space helps me focus, and my writing friends keep me excited and motivated. There’s no better feeling in the world of writing than showing a snippet of your work to someone and getting their honest, unfiltered reaction: the good, the bad, and even, sometimes, the ugly.
When I started coming up with ways to explicitly make time for writing in the midst of my schedule, I expected (well, maybe more like hoped) that it would improve my writing life.
It didn’t immediately occur to me that it would help other aspects of my life as well. I was recently chatting with someone who asked me what communication means to me, and I realized: it’s everything. It’s how I connect with others. And the ability to use my words, in writing, to share my hopes, dreams, anger and frustration with my fellow humans is priceless, amazing.
It doesn’t fix all of my issues—I still struggle with feeling lonely a lot, I wonder if my general existence in the world is leaving any sort of positive impact, I have mental illnesses and all sorts of personal hang-ups. And I still sometimes find it impossible to write—some weeks are just busier than others.
But in general things are better. There’s something about writing that lifts my spirits. I could say it’s entirely because of the aforementioned lovely reasons, like connection to my fellow human beings and cleansing of my own soul, and to be honest, a lot of the time it is that.
Sometimes, though, it’s as simple as writing a great sentence, reading it back, and feeling really, really good about myself. It’s as simple as knowing that writing is a skill I possess and can continue to hone. And the only way to get better is to put in the time.
I’ve never thought of myself as a talented person, but I love writing and sometimes I let myself think that writing loves me back.
So I put in the time. I scrape it out of the long nights when I’m not working and I squeeze in time for reading when I wake up and I listen to podcasts about authors on my commute, and in the meantime I think about writing and make friends and become better. And it makes me proud, and happy, and feels like just a glimmer of light in the world.
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