Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wasting Time -- One in a Series

I've been thinking about all the things that suck my time, steal it away in little five-ten minute bursts. I like to think of them as little bandits that rob me of my writing time. It starts out, most of the time, as little increments. Five minutes here, ten minutes there. Then, there are those sneaky thieves that steal larger amounts -- an hour or two. Before I know it, I haven't written all week. I'm left with nothing truly tangible to show for my week.

I originally was going to write about some of my fun & common time waster, but the one that struck me today was stress. Stress is probably the biggest reason for wasting time I have in my creative life. Stress is my most typical excuse for not writing, and my most typical excuse for my more destructive habits. It is as if having a moderately stressful and responsibility laden job absolves me of any creative effort. I can just lounge away my evenings and weekends, in my PJs, all thanks to stress.

I have two or three concurrent stress patterns. My typical stress thinking goes something like this: Man, I have had a stressful day. I don't feel like writing/I can't write. Or it could go something closer to: Man, what a stressful day, I deserve time off. (Deserve is a typical stress word for me. I don't deserve this stress, but I do deserve this 3 hour television watching spree.) Often times, these stress thinking patterns intersect, giving me the double dose of I don't feel like writing and I deserve time off.

Stress is a hungry time waster. While it can take the little bursts of time, it most often results in a lost evening or weekend. I drift in a semi-comatose state, seeking only pleasure and relief while creating absolutely nothing.

The kicker of it is, of course, that my biggest stress reliever is writing. For many artists, this is the case. Writing/Art is the one release we have from the stresses of daily life. Through our art, we can have the flow experience, that moment where we lose ourselves within the act of creation. What can be better than that?

So how do we, how do I, break this cycle of stress & not creating? Easy answer: create new cycles of stress & creation. This is something that I have struggled to include in my writing practice. Sometimes, like today, it is successful. Other times, it isn't. But I can only work to connect pleasure and stress relief with my creation, through practice, rather than tying it to that other obligation that only exists to stress me out.