Tag Archives: busy

Writing in a World that Never Sleeps

As an undergraduate, I commuted to college and was able to maintain some distance between work and home. Now that I live on campus, these two worlds are increasingly intertwined. Emails flow in at all hours on a multitude of projects. Peers must be communicated with or progress stalls. Some people really never turn their phone off. They allow themselves to be interrupted constantly from whatever it is they’re doing, thinking, even saying. This kills writing.

To write, one must be solitary. Alone with a pen and a story, and alone with nothing to do but wonder about your characters and think of the tales you have to tell. Social media and other phone-based gadgets have become space-fillers. Once upon a time (15 years ago), people had blank space in their lives. Waiting in line. Riding a bus. Watching a pot that won’t boil. Those blank spaces are when the mind gets back in touch with itself, and starts wandering through stories. They’re important for writing.

Writers shouldn’t be alone all the time or even most of the time, but they need to have time to process ideas. If you don’t have it, make it. Take a moment to unhook and unwind, and consider what’s important to you. Then, write about it!

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Busy Busy Writer

College has a way of messing with your writing life. Classes and encounters with people of differing opinions give writers a rich palette to draw from, while homework encroaching on all sides makes it difficult to sit down and put words on the page of a non-required document.

Writers need to be up and about, among people, interacting with the world. But to really be too busy is death to a writer. Too much stimulus and no time to process results in many good ideas that are never allowed to develop into stories. There’s a balance somewhere between being a hermit who writes all day every day (could anyone manage that without going insane?) and being so busy all the time that to write is to choose to let something important fall by the wayside.

We all have time for what we really want to do. Make writing a part of your day, and let something else go, if it’s that important to you. If it’s not, get out there and enjoy life! Maybe a memoir is more up your alley.

Sand Through the Hourglass

There’s a habit people fall into when they’ve crammed too many activities into their lives, and that’s to keep their eyes on what’s right ahead of them and forget things as soon as they pass. This is what happens with my schoolwork—I focus on the six projects or so I have going at once and desperately try to remember everything (lock the door, catch the bus, do the homework, bring the homework, communicate with team, be there on time, don’t let them down, have time to help, X6, etc. etc.). I feel like the pinch point in an hourglass, trying to get everything to flow smoothly in the present by looking ahead to the near future and not having even a moment to contemplate the past.

Life’s too short for this.

Human beings aren’t made to be productive. There’s nothing we can do that God hasn’t done for us already. We’re made to celebrate being alive, to observe and rejoice and contemplate. Trying to squeeze as much into a life before the end because you’re afraid of wasting it really is a waste. Look back and see if anything’s there to remember. Maybe you were productive. Super-productive, even. Where does that get you?

It gets you a pile of inanimate projects to call your own, no sweet memories, little human connection, and always too rushed to answer a last-minute call for help.

God didn’t make us to work for him, a Divine Boss who pays us an hourly wage. He gave us more than we can ever earn. It’s not just ok to sit back and wonder, we’re made to sit back and wonder. To enjoy the small moments. To stop running, slow down, and be still.

Why You Should Write When There’s No Time

If you don’t write when you don’t have time for it, you won’t write when you do have time for it.” ― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

When I became busy with college, I didn’t like this quote. First of all, as a homeschooled high schooler I’d had plenty of time to write, and write I did. Poems, novels, far-fetched tales of adventure in Africa, and letters—so many letters. Take that, Katerina. I wrote even when I had time.

Then college started. I valued grades over words on the page. All of a sudden, college ended and a career began. I start to see that I’ll never have time to write, at least not in the foreseeable future. What’s a writer to do?

Write when there’s no time. Up to 15 minutes of creative free-writing a day, just to get words on the page and a blog post out. I’ve finally learned that practice makes better, no matter how much raw talent you do or don’t have. Through practice, you can better understand your craft and yourself. No practice, and you’re a seed without soil.

I’ve noticed something interesting about writing when there’s no time. Katerina’s right. After a busy weekday, it’s easier for me to write than on a free weekend. The pressure is a motivator. And, against all indications to the contrary, writers aren’t hermits. A big part of the job is spending time out in the world with other people, interacting with them, exchanging ideas, getting to know the readers.

Even when there’s no time, if you want to write, write. For five minutes. Maybe just ten words. If you love it like I do, this will be enough. It’ll remind you what writing’s like. And if you ever get the time to write more, you’ll be ready.

The Moment

I haven’t posted for a while (for 13 weeks!) but I’m keeping track of these unborn posts. I’m a senior in college now, taking 20 credits, trying to figure out the graduate school application process, and life’s been getting beyond hectic. It’s at times like this—in the middle of the semester, right before the tests, when it seems there’s barely time to breathe—that I remember something.

Life isn’t about trying to get through things and leave them behind. It’s not about pushing through all the assignments just so I can say “done.” It’s about savoring the moment, because that’s all there is. Soon my senior year will be over and this will be past. I’ll be on to new adventures, but if I don’t enjoy the moment, what will I enjoy?

In the midst of chaos, take a moment and hold it. Enjoy the sunlight and the fall leaves. Savor the feeling of helplessness that comes just before an intellectual growth spurt, and know you’ll never be the same.

Don’t live to put life behind you—take time for the present.