Recently a friend E-mailed me a challenging question: “How many hours do you spend at the computer each day?” His question shook me up because I’ve become increasingly aware that “all work and no play” makes a lopsided life. I also have to admit that time away from the computer is often spent (and mis-spent) in time-killing distractions.
So I was intrigued when I read Heather Severson’s “pie” advice.. Severson, who writes and lectures about journaling, recommends thinking of your activities in terms of a pie chart and deciding what size “slice” you will allot to each one.
In an attempt to make this non-culinary pie for myself, I began by writing a candid review of the past year. How many hours did I really devote to writing? How much time at the computer was wasted by reading every Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, etc. message that popped up in my insatiable E-mails? How much time-killing TV did I watch, instead of reading books that might inspire my own work?
Although I’m proud of my devotion to writing, the opposite side of the coin is that it takes control of almost every waking hour. Too often I turn down social invitations because I want to work on my book. The older I get (another year!), the more I realize how important it is to make time for people who bring daylight into your life (and to delete the toxic ones who drain your energy). Our emotional landscape would be a lot more barren without good friends. We also need to include museums, concerts, theatre, etc. because they broaden our world creatively, too. I often find that my best rewrites take shape in my head while I’m away from the computer!
So I now take a sheet of computer paper and draw a big circle on it for my 2015 “slices.” Still a large chunk – but reduced to 40% – is labeled WRITING ( book, stories, blogs), 15% for “MARKETING” (queries, arranging author talks, et al), another 15% for LESSON PLANS for the writing class I teach. An unavoidable 10-15% is set aside for medical appointments and domestic chores, and at least 10-15% is reserved for socializing.
I also carve a slice for salvaged minutes of READING , instead of couch-potato TV viewing. (Stephen King, in his useful book ”On Writing,” calls reading ”the creative center of a writer’s life.” )
Being realistic (read, human), I will allow unscheduled moments of resting and dreaming to slip in, for these are necessities, too.
Each person’s ingredients are individual, of course. Only you can decide which slices and what amounts would make 2015 productive for you. Just as how faithfully I adhere to my pie and how flexible I am when life demands revision is up to me.
Happy – Healthy – Creative Year to all.
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk”-available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”- Xlibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor” – Createspace.com and Amazon.com. Also Amazon Kindle.