I have blocks of hours in my day that in the past have been wasted ones. What I know to do, I don’t do—for the most part. Why is that? Do I just drift and dribble my minutes away? I will never know what I might have written during those wasted hours. The blank page stands as a testimony of lost opportunity. May they be few in the days and months and years ahead.
I also have blocks of hours that are my best for creative activities. I have had the mindset that I must get certain tasks done during specific blocks of time. I didn’t even realize that I was operating under the constraints until I became so frustrated with my unproductivity that I did some deep self-evaluation regarding the whole issue of time.
During the child-rearing years, I set some patterns for my activities that have carried over into the present, and my wake-up call to these is long overdue. I finally have established some new time habits, and it’s working. I have blocked off four hours during my most creative time, which turns out to be from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. I knew I was a “morning person,” so why I hadn’t done this earlier in my writing career I will never know.
Wasting time has troubled me greatly in the past. Doing nothing outwardly appears to be wasting time, but I have come to see it in another way. I needed to consider more carefully all that goes on inwardly. So much of what comes out through my fingers on the keyboard has been sifted through the process described by Dr. Nash in his wonderful book, Liberating Scholarly Writing: The Power of Personal Narrative (2004):
Reflection is not writing.
Research is not writing.
Note taking is not writing.
Talking about writing is not writing.
Reading about writing is not writing.
Planning for writing is not writing.
Writing is writing.
But the time spent from the moment of conception to the appearance on the paper is not “wasted time” at all. It can be compared to the gestation period prior to the birth of a child. So very much is going on unnoticed by the outside world. If the writer is creative, something entirely new will emerge from that “wasted time” that will touch another’s life for the better. Such is the hope of one who dares to “waste time” and then “give birth” to new life.
A few years ago, I wrote a three-word Morning Page: Writing is war . . . and I meant it. It seems like an odd thing to say about my chosen field, but it is true for me most days. I feel compelled to write and prohibited from writing at the same time. This resistance takes on many forms of procrastination like running errands, making phone calls, taking naps, cooking meals, mindlessly roaming through emails and Facebook—the list is endless. Writers like me have to successfully fight the time battle with intentionality in order to win this war.