I’m realizing that some of it has to do with mostly taking the summer off from writing. Just like my monkey-mind with meditation, my writing mind has trouble focusing when I haven’t been practicing. Here are 3 Things I Learned from Three Months of Not Writing.
1. Auto-pilot is easier...in the short-term.
Switching to auto-pilot and not holding myself accountable for sitting to write takes no effort. And with three kids home all summer, an option for less effort is really appealing. It’s like jogging downhill. Gravity does a fair amount of the work, and I can catch my breath. Of course, being able to catch one’s breath is a good thing, but if it’s all downhill… well, then my writing is going to go downhill.
Yes, auto-pilot is easier in the moment. Over the long-term, though, my relationship with writing suffers, and I lose touch with the compelling reasons I had been writing. Not taking a stand for what we want is not very different from choosing what we don’t want.
2. Writing muscles tighten up just like the body’s muscles.
Gosh, am I feeling that truth today. It’s just like when I go back to class after taking a month off from yoga: my hamstrings seem to have shortened by several inches, and my back creaks and my shoulders complain when I attempt to raise my arms overhead. And it doesn’t feel fun or rejuvenating.
With writing, my thoughts don’t flow as easily. My words feel less nimble and the connections don’t come as fluidly. Even my noticing skills seem fuzzy. I feel less perceptive and less open to awareness. It makes sense; agility comes with practice. Muscles store memory, even the cognitive ones (which I think, technically, are not called muscles but neurons or some such thing). It could be writing; it could be meditation or gratitude. It’s called a practice because one must practice it. Wax on, wax off.
3. Sometimes, more work is actually less work
Over the summer, I tried to keep our schedule fairly open and flexible. I wanted to the summer to feel “easy-breezy,” less complicated, less work. So, instead of creating a scheduled time slot on the calendar for writing, I assumed that I’d fit in my writing here and there. Of course, most of those free and flexible hours got eaten up by the “our” part of the equation - that is, my schedule worked around my kids’ schedules. Unless I had something of my own actually penciled in, it was easiest just to go with the flow of what worked best for the family unit.
The irony, of course, is that sometimes what looks best for the family on paper does not work out that way in actuality. Sometimes, the additional commitment to one’s self, one’s writing, one’s mental health practices may complicate things for the group, but ultimately, makes everything run more smoothly in the long-run.
So, here I am, getting back on the horse, grateful for a quiet house on a sunny September morning. I am appreciating the “begin and begin again” energy that’s here.
And I appreciate your willingness to come along. Thanks for being here.
What practice do you have an off again-on again relationship with? What's the impact of off again and what's the impact of on again?
Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.