Thursday, May 16, 2013

No Time To Write!

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

As the mother of 8 kids, I love telling the story of how I became an empty nester while they were still all at home.  Last year, my youngest child ventured off to all-day kindergarten.  As bittersweet as this was, moments after she left on the bus for her 7 plus hour day away from me, I sat on the couch rubbing my hands together thinking about how many novels I would write that year—after all, I was now going to be an empty nester for 35 hours a week!

I guess I got a little ahead of myself because after just 2 weeks of her being in school all day, not only did I not write a single chapter of a single book, I never even sat at my computer to write out a grocery list, as I foolishly started filling my blank days with obligations like food shopping in peace and quiet, taking the dog for three walks instead of one, reorganizing the laundry room and so on and so on.  By the end of the school year, I literally had done less writing than I used to while juggling toddlers and pre-schoolers at home by myself 24/7.

Luckily, I came across a wonderful book called Writers First Aid written by Kristi Holl.  It was a fun, easy read loaded with practical tips to get organized and get more writing done.  One of my favorite chapters was called, But I don’t have time!  It struck a chord with me because she shared a very insightful story that changed my perspective on making time to write.   Perhaps you'll recognize it:

One day an old professor was invited to lecture on the topic of Efficient Time Management, so goes the tale.  Standing in front of this group of elite managers he said, "We are going to conduct an experiment".  The professor pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it on the table. Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar.

Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, "Is the jar full?" The managers replied, "Yes". The professor paused for a moment, and replied, "Really?" Once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly shook the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom. Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, "Is the jar full?" At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions. One replied, "Apparently not!" "Correct", replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table.

Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar filling up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles. Yet again, the professor asked, "Is the jar full?" Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, "NO!" "Correct", replied the professor. The professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full.  

The lesson was brilliant—the jar represents a resource in general, and time specifically. What is true about time is also true about most resources, especially life itself. The jar has a certain fixed or finite capacity. It could not be stretched or enlarged. Similarly, our days are all 24 hour cycles. They can neither be shortened nor elongated.

When I seem to hit a period where I struggle thinking I don’t have enough time to get my writing done, I reach for this story, and it always makes me think outside the “jar” and figure out where I can sneak some writing in between those big rocks in my life that take up lots of time.

What do you do to find more time to write?

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