My cozy intown writer's hideaway, Nashville Public Library. Photo: ©LeisaHammett.com, taken with my Droid camera phone and happily doctored with Pixlr-o-matic app--my latest down-time joyful "rest" obsession.
Until my senior year in college, a lap around campus equaled huffing-puffling exhaustion. Then came a daily commute to Knoxville, a full-time job and holding down courses during my last semester. Enter, my discovery and life-long commitment to the "religion," manna and necessity of exercise to reduce stress. It was easy as a young, single woman to make the time to run, go to the gym, etc. Ditto, as a young mother, to push my babe in a buggy 'round the neighborhood. Not so much as life became more complicated and "busier." But, I found the secret was looking at my schedule every day and finding time to get in a type of exercise that I enjoyed. Choosing one that I enjoyed and could work into my day was a key motivator to continue. Sometimes it has meant a 15-minute walk around the block--all I could squeeze in on certain days. (Better than nothin', so say exercise scientists.) For me, walking is the easiest and most convenient way to exercise. This last year I lost 10 pounds, in great part due to walking all my errands in my new-to-me suburban shopping-living district....Exercise requires commitment and discipline.
Writing is like that. A discipline. And, like exercise, it's easy-peasy to find "life excuses" not to do it. What's been working for me the last few years of blogging is carving out mini-retreats, even if it's a Saturday afternoon or a Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the sofa, the laptop warming the tops of my thights. Some bloggers baulk at blogging in advance but even Pro-Blogger does it--a month at a time. And since May of last year, I've been carving out away retreats at least once a year. This May I took five days in "Bum Frick, East Tenn."--as I dubbed it--rented an apartment and worked part of the time blogging through the month of June so I could go on auto-pilot as required by my daughter's intense summer schedule. The other part of the time was dedicated to editing essays for my next book and sending them off to my writing coach. January through March, I took a day at the library to work on book essays but when GraceArt overtook all my extra time with three spring shows, I knew a retreat was necessary. Here's a snapshot of book number two in progress, below. (There's a whole lot more essays written than this, but these are the edited ones.)
So, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I cashed in my saved weekly childcare stash and hired a sitter to pick up Grace from work and IPAD camp and retreated to Nashville's version of a grand city library. (I feel like I'm in Chicago or New York in it's magnifient architectural confines.) Now my blog can continue on auto pilot, almost, through next month until school starts and I'd be able to make more progress on the book. It took this retreat to make any writing progress happen this summer. I could have taken the summer off, but then I would not have met my personal goals of keeping my blog running and making progress on having book two in some stage of completion by year end. Next I'm planning a two-day weekend fall retreat in September and also I'm pondering the days I'll allot each week, once school resumes at the start of August, to work on the blog and book.
It takes discipline. In discipline there is reward....In the words of my teacher: "Easy goes nowhere." Also, in my paraphrase: Buck up and get over your spoiled little child who wants to make excuses to get you off the hook. And in the words of of ISA director, Luis Cordoba: "Do what it takes to make your life work."
If you are a writer or another type of artist or have any type of project to which you are dedicated? How are you crafting your time this season?