Last year, I was busy.
Working at my “day job” (which I actually love), going to school part-time, doing some work as a labor and postpartum doula, moving into a house, adopting animals, repeatedly resolving to go to the gym (and sometimes going!) — I was really, really busy. As a result of being so busy living a “normal” life, I let some very important things fall by the wayside, namely my regular writing schedule.
“But I just don’t have time!” is so easy to say with regard to writing, or any kind of artistic discipline. Sometimes, especially when it’s not our full-time way of making a living, our creative work is the first thing to go when things get hectic. I’ve learned that in order to have the time to write, I need to make the time to write. Extra hours will not spontaneously appear in my day as a gift from the gods, nor will any new songs spring, fully-formed, from my pen while I’m sleeping. It’s really pretty simple, but easy to overlook in favor of excuses —
If I want to be a songwriter, I need to write songs.
I need to have an “appointment with myself” every day in which my only assignment is to write. With a schedule like mine, that seems nearly impossible at first glance.
So how do I recover from my lapse in writing discipline?
The first step is to unstick myself from the mire of my over-scheduled days. I need to re-evaluate how much I should be doing, what I can and can’t volunteer for, what time I actually have versus the time I’m promising for others. When I was writing every day, my schedule was much more loose and free. I could walk down to the coffee shop in my neighborhood and sit with my notebook for a couple of hours. Given that I now have more responsibilities and a full-time job, that sort of setup just can’t happen anymore. So how do I create more space in my schedule?
A fun thing I only recently discovered is delegating. It honestly did not occur to me until a short time ago that I don’t have to do everything myself.
This is a big one for me. I’ve always been very independent (and just love slapping “independent” in front of “singer/songwriter” when telling people about my music) so it’s actually pretty hard for me to come to grips with the idea that I can ask someone else, someone equally or more capable, to help me with a project or take on a certain aspect of it that I’d normally want to do on my own.
A great example is my friend Emily. She and my friend Wes (now her husband) did the artwork for my album “How To Take The Fall”. It’s great artwork, I love it and get complimented on it all the time. Emily has since been helping me with a lot of my poster/artwork needs for promotional stuff. I am teaching myself how to use photo manipulation software, because I’d like to be able to do it myself if she’s not available, but in the meantime, why not delegate these tasks to my extremely creative and talented friend? Once I told myself (and Emily told me) that it was OK to rely on her for these things, a big portion of my stress went *POOF*.
I think a lot of us in America are raised to be independent, do-it-yourselfers. This can-do spirit is fantastic for innovation and motivation, but honestly, most of us get burned out on it at one time or another. I know I did. Learning that just because I am capable of doing a project doesn’t automatically mean I am obligated to do it was the first, and one of the most important, steps in getting my writing back.
Something amazing happens when you learn to delegate and take on less. Time appears. A half hour here, two hours over there. Like a gift from the gods.
Yesterday, I drank a cup of English breakfast tea and worked on a song. I felt guilty for a moment about delaying making chili for a church function tonight, but then realized it could wait, because I had more important things to attend to.