My Routines

          Routines. Routines for Writers. That’s who we are. That’s what we talk about. All the topics, all the discussions, everything we say comes back to routines. It is fitting, then, this September, our anniversary month, that we focus on routines, specifically those routines that help us succeed.

          Whether it pertains to creating, rewriting, editing or publishing, routines can hinder or help. Since I’m a hands-on learner and it helps me to have examples of how to apply theoretical knowledge, I’m going to share some of my own examples in the hope of helping those of you who are hands-on, too. I suspected, many years ago, that routines might make my life more manageable (theory). I had a lot of trial and error, though, before I found good routines that aided me in accomplishing my goals (practice). I’m still learning. 

          Life never stays the same. That change so often turns good routines into not-so-good routines. Example: When we started this blog, my posts went up on Mondays. I created routines that allowed me to have it finished and posted by Sunday night. When I moved to China, Sunday night became too difficult, but that didn’t matter. China is 12 hours ahead of the USA so even though I finished and posted, this blog on Monday mornings, from most of our readers’ perspectives, it was still Sunday night. Then I moved back to the US. And struggled to get the posts up on time. So we made the change to me posting on Wednesdays and Kitty on Mondays. Now my routines help me post on time (usually).

          Other routines in my life now are related to my school schedule. I am taking seven different classes for the semester. As you might imagine, I get overloaded sometimes. I’ve learned to not panic when those feelings of being overwhelmed descend on me every Tuesday and progressively get worse throughout Thursday. That feeling is deceptive. Yes, if I did not work on my projects and assignments or study for tests, I would certainly become overwhelmed and fail. However, the routines of my life at present usually allow me a few large blocks of study time. I have a work-study job at the college library. I am allowed, even encouraged, to study while I sit at the desk or do other library things. That means I often have a good portion of my four-hour shifts on Thursday and Friday to work on many of my assignments. Even though I often have Saturday completely free, many times I don’t need to use it for studying.

          There is a negative, though. If the library is busy, like it was last week, I don’t get that study time. I have to find other times to study. If I count on those times too much, I can get into trouble. Like last weekend when I had multiple assignments, projects and labs. (I got everything finished, but just barely.)

          I have found that I need to periodically review my routines. Sometimes all that is needed is to put them back into practice. I’m naturally a seat-of-the-pants type person. I tend to flex my routines a lot. Sometimes my problems are not that the routines don’t fit my current circumstances, but that I’m not utilizing them. Routines have to work for you. Or to paraphrase a great man, “Routines were created for you; You were not created for routines.”

          Are your routines helping or hindering? What do you need to do about it?

My Creative Mis-Beliefs

          Recently I had a revelation. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind-heart, I believe I don’t deserve time to nurture my creativity. That any form of creativity, be it writing, drawing, painting, daydreaming, crafting or anything else is a waste of time, a luxury. It might be an activity I can do after I do “the important things” but to routinely indulge is irresponsible.

          That internal belief (a better term is mis-belief) wars with my compulsive need to express myself creatively. This hidden, destructive mis-belief gives no credence to reality and quantifiable facts. The reality is that I feel most alive when I am creating something. It is an observable and repeatable fact that when I spend time creating something of beauty, I am productive in other areas of life. Case in point: a couple of Saturdays ago I was overloaded with homework assignments from multiple courses. I felt I needed to spend the entire day studying, but I’d signed up for a craft class. Even though I probably could have talked with the studio and convinced them to refund my money, I really wanted to learn this craft. I decided, even though it seemed irresponsible, to take the 2-3 hour class and spend the rest of the day studying. (I absolutely loved the class and have ideas for some impressive Christmas presents.) The next 5-7 hours of studying were so productive that by 7pm Saturday evening I was caught up on all assignments and readings through the middle of the next week.

          What does this have to do with this week’s Routines for Writers big picture/details theme? I’ll tell you. 🙂

          I’ve been wondering if I need to stop trying to hang onto my writing. Maybe it’s time to give it up. It gets harder and harder to write each week. I didn’t expect this. It is understandable that during the emotional upheaval of last year that some of my creativity would shut down. Isn’t it also reasonable to expect at least some of that creativity to return as I have progressed through emotional healing this year? To be honest, I have experienced creative success in several art courses. Not so with writing. In fact, because it has gotten so hard at times to write anything at all, I’ve seriously considered withdrawing from Routines for Writers and abandoning any future writing goals.

          Then came the above mentioned revelation. With it came the realization that it is crucial for me to hang onto anything and everything creative I want to do. At this season in my life, I need to battle and overwhelm that mis-belief by feeding and nurturing my creativity. Currently, I’m aided in this fight by my routines. The art courses I take each semester force me to spend time creating. Writing this blog forces me to write. In these and other creative doings, I find peace and joy and a sense of purpose. As difficult as some of my art assignments have been over these past three semesters, I relish them. I have an excuse now to “do art,” to be creative. Because of that, I’ve realized that need for creative expression is as necessary as breathing for me.

          That’s the big picture for me. My life must include lots of creative time. Creative time in my daily life is valuable, necessary and to be protected and nurtured. It is as necessary to me as breathing clean, fresh air. The details of my life need to support that big picture view. Even though sitting down to write may be difficult, I need to do it. Even in the midst of more prosaic school assignments, I need to carve out time dedicated to creativity just for creativity’s sake. Above all, I need to confront and root out this erroneous belief that my creative expression is worthless and time spent on it is wasted. The only way I know to do that is to continue creating.

          So for now, you’ll find me here each week.

Juggling My Options

         Argh! I did it again. I thought all my “plates” were juggling in sync only to watch in dismay as some come crashing toward the floor. This week’s blog post is one of them. (My upcoming algebra test and English Comp paper are others.)

          As you may have surmised from Kitty’s post on Monday, we are discussing options this week (within the broader topic of Taking Control of our writing life). Every one of us has options. At times our options seem limited, but usually those limits can also point to new possibilities and opportunities. Such is the case in the publishing world at this time. This article by David Vinjamuri on the rising use of epublishing is full of examples and references to the different opportunities available to authors today and the shifting business models those options are creating. I hope it is as interesting and encouraging to you as it was to me.

          Now, please excuse me while I go catch my “plates” and toss them back into the air.

Twin Engines of Creativity

          I don’t know much about jet airplanes, but I have watched enough TV and movies to realize there are at least two engines. According to those dramas, a jet plane can still fly even if an engine stops working. It’s not easy nor incredibly safe (which makes good drama opportunity, right?), but it is possible. (There are also small twin-engine planes, but I’m not sure they can fly on only one engine, which means they won’t fit my analogy.)

          This week we are talking about creative breakthroughs. Until recently, I would have said you must be working in order to have a creative breakthrough. How could you break through anything if you aren’t pushing on it? However, as we explored last week, procrastination can actually aid in production. I’ve come to realize that creative breakthroughs are powered by the twin engines of creative discipline and creative procrastination.

          Discipline creates an infrastructure that can support the creativity. The discipline of just “showing up” for work creates a routine that ensures there is time to accomplish the creative work. When a routine time is scheduled (and guarded) for writing and only writing is done during that time, there is a guarantee something will be written. It might not be fantastic; it may not be a breakthrough; but it will be consistent. That consistency creates an environment of productivity as well as giving direction and forward momentum. It doesn’t matter if I am consistently writing every day or only writing from 2-3pm on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays or for some extended time on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. It’s not the when that matters. It is the consistency. That consistent time for writing, or any other creative endeavor, programs the mind to be ready to work.

          Creative procrastination is the other engine that powers the jet plane of our creative productivity, creating an environment conducive to creative breakthroughs. If an engine is run constantly, it eventually gives out. In the same way, if we are always “on”, always trying to produce something, we’ll eventually burn out. Even when we do have a breakthrough, we may not have the energy to follow through. As we all discussed last week, taking a break from our work, even totally ignoring or abandoning it for a time, can actually make us more productive.

          Taking a break gives our “creative brain” or consciousness a rest. The pressure to produce is removed for a time. Just as several hours of sleep can totally refresh us even though the body is still “working,” so a break from our writing can refresh us even though our subconscious mind, muse, or whatever you want to call it, is most likely still be working on the project. In addition, the activities we engage in during those breaks provide input of new ideas and experiences that fuels our inspiration. That time away from the project allows us to be refreshed and re-energized, returning to the project with new ideas and new enthusiasm.

          I’ve come to believe consistent productivity can only be achieved with a finely tuned balance of creative discipline and creative procrastination. I’m in the process of tuning that balance.

Embracing the Procrastination Monster

          Procrastination is the theme of this week’s blogs. Seems appropriate since I have procrastinated writing this blog. Of course, I’ve procrastinated a lot of times in the past year or so, haven’t I? Even when it hasn’t been obvious, I’ve probably procrastinated. Procrastination is a part of my being. I can’t seem to get away from it. No matter how I berate myself or attempt to establish better routines or struggle with this issue, I can’t seem to eliminate procrastination from my life.

          I’m learning during this season of my life the need to re-evaluate how I view myself. I’m combatting negative voices, inside and out, that have a grain of truth to them. That makes them vicious if I don’t spend time evaluating them with a dose of truth and reality. All these years I’ve heard and believed that procrastination is wrong, never useful, something to be rooted out and destroyed. Those times procrastination worked to my advantage were flukes. Or so I was told. Now I’m not so sure. Yes, there are negatives to procrastination. We all know that. Tasks remain undone, projects falter or fail, opportunities are missed. Life is difficult on so many levels when we procrastinate. That is fact.

          Like any tool, though, it can be used. A drill can make holes for bolts or destroy a beautiful piece of furniture. A baseball bat is useful for hitting softballs across a field or even as a weapon to thwart a burglar. In the hands of that burglar, though, it is a tool of destruction. Fire, when controlled is a source of heat and light. When uncontrolled, it kills and destroys. Water is another source of life that we can’t live without, but out of control and overabundance of water is destructive. Like fire, water, or any tools we might use, procrastination can be wielded in ways that enable and increase productivity or damage and destroy it.

          As you may remember, I am back in college, attempting to earn a degree in design and technology. Over the past two semesters I’ve procrastinated on several assignments. Sometimes because of time constraints, but often because I lacked inspiration or confidence. Like the resume I had to write, but couldn’t figure out how to present my non-traditional experience and skill sets. (I’m a college student, but older. I’m older, but haven’t worked in the workplace for 25+ years. I haven’t worked in the workplace, but I have lots of experience and skills that are marketable.) Or the PowerPoint presentation where I almost took too long to choose a topic. I may talk about these and more in the coming weeks as they illustrate some major breakthroughs in the way I view myself and my creative process. Those and others were instrumental in helping me realize procrastination can be a useful, if potentially dangerous tool.

          I’m taking an English Composition class. It’s required as a general course for my degree. I could have chosen to CLEP out of it, but I’m hoping it will jump-start my desire to write, which seems to be in a coma. (Or has it flat-lined? I guess I’ll find out this semester.) In Monday’s class, the instructor reviewed how best to write an in-class essay. Namely, the importance of pre-writing. He demonstrated webbing, aka mind-mapping or clustering. (Here’s a blog I wrote on mind-mapping.) During the lecture, he stressed that pre-writing was the backbone of a composition. The more pre-writing is done, the faster and easier the writing flows.

          I know this, but I balk at it. Not because I don’t believe it, but because I tend more toward freewriting as my style of brainstorming/pre-writing. (He presented that as a valid method of pre-writing for at-home papers, but not for in-class essays.) However, he’s right. I need to utilize a better pre-writing method for the in-class essays he assigns. It may even help with my personal writing. Toward that end, I decided to experiment. I used the pre-write/write/re-write method he suggested to prepare this blog post. First, I mind-mapped my thoughts. After doing that, I organized them (loosely) into a plan. Only then did I start writing.

          While I ended up with something a little different from the pre-writing plan I envisioned, it is not drastically different. I did fudge a bit on his instructions, moving into writing before completely finished with pre-writing. (My style of using the freewriting method to gather thoughts/plan is ingrained pretty deep.) I’m also not sure where I finished writing and moved into rewriting. Those two steps seemed to happen simultaneously. However, I wrote this in the 1 ½ hours I had between two classes. I then spent another 15 minutes after class revising and polishing before I uploaded it to the website. If I’d written this over the weekend instead of procrastinating, I would still have come up with a reasonably written article. If I’d not procrastinated, though, I would not have this example to share and it would have taken me approximately an extra hour to complete.

          Procrastination. Maybe it’s time to embrace this monster.

Emotionally Healthy Thoughts and Thoughtful Emotions

          Kitty suggests thoughts drive our feelings. Is she right? Or is it feelings that drive our thoughts? I’ve actually had several discussions over the past week about this very subject. I tried to write some general, impersonal thoughts. Trouble is, I can articulate so much better when I have specifics. And the specifics of my life provide several examples of both. So instead of a theoretical treatise that would probably bore you anyway, I’ll share my experience with the emotion-thought dynamic.

          Last year about this time, I took a course that was to help me get certified to be a nursing assistant. Because of my emotional state, just making that decision was hard. I thought I had few other options. I did not finish college. I had not worked outside the home for 26 years. Except for about a year as a secretary, I’d only worked in restaurants, mostly as a server. I needed to find a way to earn an income. I didn’t really want to work a laborious job, but my feelings convinced me I was incapable of anything else. (There were also the barely recognized feelings that I wasn’t worthy of anything else.)

          I learned I could take a course for a month that would allow me to become certified as a nursing assistant (if I passed the tests, of course). Yes, it would be a physically demanding job, but it would be a job helping others (which I wanted to do) and didn’t require a lot of education (which I didn’t have). Really, what else could I do? Underlying all my thoughts was the knowledge that I didn’t really deserve to find a job that wasn’t physically demanding. To even admit I wanted to do something less laborious was to admit that I was lazy and worthless.

          Do you see the emotions driving my thoughts and actions? Those conflicting emotions, looming depression and dark thought-threads continually sabotaged my efforts to pull together and mend the pieces of my life. During that time, I had a passing thought that maybe I could apply to the university in my town and return to school. I dismissed it before it even became a fully-formed conscious thought. Of course I couldn’t do that. Instead, I signed up for the CNA certification course.

          About halfway through the course, I began wondering if I really wanted a career as a CNA. My emotions continued to insist this was my only real option, but occasional thoughts broke through that challenged those feelings. I finished the course, signed up to take the certification test, and applied for work at a couple of nursing homes. However, the daily success in the class had begun the process of lifting those dark feelings and lightening the dark thoughts. Since no jobs were immediately offered, I actually began to consider returning to school. At the encouragement of friends and my grown children, I went to discuss options. Over the next few weeks, I made the decision that, if finances could be found, I would attend Troy University in January.

          As often happens, after that decision was made and acted on, one of the nursing homes called and offered me a job. When I told them I was returning to school in a few weeks, they assured me that I could drop to part time if I needed to and work around my schedule. Since I wanted to work the night shift, there really wouldn’t be any conflict with classes. (Yes, I really do like working at night.) I still needed to take my CNA test, which was scheduled a week away, but I could work for up to three months as a nursing assistant in training.

          I did work at Extendicare for three months. During that time, I added to my practical knowledge of caring for the residents. I even enjoyed the job. The residents, my co-workers and my supervisors all seemed to indicate I was doing well. The certification tests did not. Over those three months, I took the test the maximum number of times. I passed the written test with no problem. Each time I took the skills test, though, I made a minor, stupid mistake. Whether it was nerves or my struggle to focus on details, test-taking anxiety or even my own ambivalence about continuing working while going to school, I don’t know. I just know I failed to pass the CNA certification. When the legal deadline arrived, I had to stop working.

          Had these events happened just a few months before, I’m sure my thoughts would have taken a much darker path. As it was, my mind tried to re-initiate that downward spiral. I was a failure. I couldn’t even pass a simple test. How could I be so stupid? Because of the other successes in those few months, though, I was able to counter those thoughts with more realistic ones. I had failed a test. That did not make me a failure. It confirmed that I’m not detail oriented. My success with the residents, though, confirmed that I was skilled at comforting and caring for people. Had my desire been to continue in that field, either as a CNA or in another capacity, I would have been able to make it happen. I’d learned, though, that I wanted something totally different. That enabled me to let go and move on.

          Throughout this intricate dance of emotions and thoughts, I healed and grew, learned to recognize healthy and unhealthy thoughts and emotions. Thoughts corroborated my feelings of worthlessness or challenged them; feelings stymied my thoughts about options or gave me the energy I needed to pursue them. I really can’t say which is more important. I just know that both my thoughts and my feelings are signs. Sometimes warning signs; sometimes affirmations. In addition to being signs, they fuel and energize my actions. It’s important, nay crucial, for me to monitor them and keep them healthy.

          Now that the thought-emotion cycle is in a more stable balance for the rest of my life, it’s time to apply it to my writing. What’s the emotional health of your thoughts? How is it affecting your writing?

Come Here Creativity!

          Where does my creativity come from? I look at those people I call creative and wonder where they come up with the ideas. I’m sure you do too. Whether it is writing a novel, designing a building, drawing, painting or homemaking, creativity is elusive. Those who “have it” mumble things like “I just do it” or “It came to me” or tell a story about what was happening when the idea came into being . . . and that story’s connection to creativity is elusive, often even in the creator’s mind.

          Even when that person spells out just what it was that inspired him or her, I still have trouble seeing the same inspiration. I just mumble, “Ok. That’s interesting.” But then it happens to me. I get slapped in the face with an idea and I want to run with it. When I try to understand or explain it, though, I’m left mumbling, “It just came to me” or some such.

          In one of the art courses I took this summer, the instructor gave us an outline, or Process for Creativity. I’m not sure if this is just one of many elusive attempts to quantify the creative process or might actually have some validity. It’s possible that this list actually does describe what I do at the intuitive level when I’m “in the zone”. I’m open to investigating it further.
         
5 Steps to the Creative Process

  1. Assess the Problem.
    1. State the problem clearly
    2. Dig to understand the problem
    3. Set objectives for solution
  2. Input: Feed Information
    1. Understand the problem
    2. Comprehensive research
    3. Be an authority on the problem
  3. Process and Incubate.
    1. Mentally incubate
    2. Allow for eureka moments
    3. Activate the process if needed
  4. Output: Retrieve Options
    1. Execute a variety of options (20, 50, 100, more)
    2. Test against objectives
    3. Refine best solutions
    4. Evaluate best options
  5. Present Best Solution
    1. Keep it simple
    2. Present a clearly stated solution
    3. Listen for feedback: was the problem solved?

          It’s true that when I have a clear picture or explanation of what I want to accomplish, I’m more successful. Example: Write a short story vs write a 1500 word short story about a girl taking a spontaneous day off work. How do I input information and gain a clearer vision of “the problem”? I think of Kitty’s slew of character and plot charts. Maybe. They’ve never been that helpful in the past. But my own process of journaling in my character’s voice or interviewing my character is probably the right-brained version of those lists and charts.

          As I look at this outline, I can see some validity, steps that would benefit me immensely. Particularly the executing multiple options and keeping “the solution” simple. I also see some cautions, at least for me. The most obvious is that my process cycles through these steps multiple times and in random order. And I need to allow myself to do that. That’s how my brain works. Layer upon layer upon layer.

          If I follow these steps to creativity I might actually discover how to more reliably access my own creativity. Or I might not. I might be better served finding another way. Like the one presented by Holly Lisle in one of the first lessons of her “How To Think Sideways” course. By mind-mapping words and images that create emotion in me, I might be able to access my own creativity on a more intuitive and emotional level.

          I’m still searching for the best pathway into my own creativity. What about you? What works for you?

What I did on my summer vacation – Stephanie

          Ha! What vacation?

          Ok. You are right. I did take a vacation from RFW. In fact, I’ve pretty much taken vacation from writing. Of course, if you have been following the blog this year, you know that vacation has been going on for a while. I haven’t written fiction in over a year. Even my journal writing, which used be an almost daily thing, dwindled to a weekly or biweekly thing . . . or less. For more weeks than I want to admit, my posts to RFW were the only thing getting written. Then we went on vacation.

          I have to admit, I was torn. I wanted to keep on writing. The enforced blog writing was . . . well . . .forcing me to write. And since I was on an exploration of myself topic, it was also forcing me to look at my life and my pain and my art and all that angst. I was finding answers. I’ve always processed my thoughts and emotions through writing. Many writers do. To find more answers, more emotional health, I needed to keep up the written exploration. Right?

          Truth is, if I’d really wanted to keep writing, I would have continued to write. I could have written and posted to my personal website/blog. That is what I fully intended to do. But all that enforced analyzing my motives and being honest with myself had its effect. I had to admit the relief I felt at not having to write the blog was just a little louder and stronger than the desire to continue the writing exploration. So I took my vacation.

          Such as it was.

          Oh it was definitely a vacation from writing. I’ve barely written a thing. I’m just not sure I can honestly call this summer a vacation. I’ve been busy in ways I haven’t been for a long time. (Happy, too!) I’ve returned to college, with plans to finish with a degree in web design and development. I took more classes this summer, in the hopes of more quickly arriving at the a place where I can confidently sell myself as a web designer.

          Summer semester at Troy University is intense. In 4-8 weeks (depending on the session) teacher and students have to cover the material that is usually covered in 16 weeks. Like I said. Intense. I took two art courses and one computer concepts course. I had projects in all of them, some with only days to finish. With that intensity, I had a lot of opportunity to learn about myself, my processes and the ways I try to sabotage myself. (Fortunately, I recognized and combatted that sabotage and ended the semester with all A’s!)

          I’m still in learning mode where my own motives and emotions and choices are concerned. It is not reasonable to think it will only take a few weeks or months to change patterns of behavior and thinking that have developed over decades. There are sure to be blind spots and fuzzy areas where I do not really see myself clearly. But I see myself much more clearly than even just a year ago. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes the best way I “deal” with something is to back away from it and ignore it.

          Obviously, I have used that trait in unhealthy ways. That’s what has led to many of my life’s current upheavals. I’m on a journey to change those thinking and behavior patterns. As I seek to change past patterns, I’m trying to force myself to face my problems, not hide from them. The truth is, though, it is a part of my psyche, my creative process, my emotional process, whatever you want to call it, to find solutions by ignoring the problem. It works rather well at times. As long as I don’t permanently ignore the problem, issue, project, what-have-you.

          That’s what I’ve learned while on this vacation.

          To find solutions, sometimes I need a time (or multiple times) of not focusing on the problem, followed by a time of actively working on a solution. Eventually, a project is finished, a problem is solved, order is wrenched from the chaos. This summer I continued learning that lesson and, in the process, am better able to discern when it’s time to back away and when it’s time to refocus.

         The coming months will be a time of refocusing. I’ll be back writing this blog, of course. In addition, I’m taking several courses, such as English Composition, where I will be expected to write. It’s possible my passion for writing will be re-ignited. Or not. I do know is that writing is how I process things . . . but sometimes the things needing processing are too big and have to hide from me and my writing. And that’s ok, too. Eventually, they will be ready for processing. And eventually I will write more. For now I’ll be writing this blog and the myriad of assignments that will come with my new schedule of classes.

          It’s good to back from vacation.

Blog for Writers

          I’ve been so amazingly busy the past few weeks that I’m despairing of ever being able to get a blog written before the last minute. 🙂 This week I have several beginnings of blogs, but nothing fleshed out and finished. Rather than rush the creative process and force one of those ideas into a mediocre post, I’m going to change tack.

          Even so, I’m not giving you something totally unrelated to what’s going on in my life. I’ve actually been trying to re-discover my writing, to re-connect with words in my life, to re-new my enthusiasm and my output. Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I can’t just will myself to write. I need a little help. (We all do. That’s one of my “beginnings” and I’ll expand on that in a future post.) I realized I probably needed more than a little guidance. Where do I go when I need help? A search engine, of course. (What did we do before the Internet? 😉 )

          I came across this blog, Top 10 Blogs for Writers. There is enough material here to inspire and instruct me for a long time. I hope you agree. Enjoy!

Packed Drawers and Schedules

          I was in the process of uploading this when I got a call that Lowe’s was coming to deliver my stove to my new place. They weren’t supposed to come until afternoon! Anyway, for some reason my wireless didn’t work at the new place (another to-do for my ever-growing list) and I couldn’t finish uploading. I apologize . . . but here it is now. 🙂

          I’m moving on Saturday and am in the midst of packing. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a blog this week. I’ve been so busy, Tuesday slipped up on me again. 🙂 In the middle of packing, though, I experienced an object lesson that just begged to be told.

          I have a set of drawers where I keep office supplies. Usually the supplies just get tossed in the drawers any which way. It’s really not that important. I have them there so that I’ll have clips and post-it notes and stamps and such at my fingertips when I’m sitting at my desk. Today, though, I was packing up those drawers, getting the container they are in ready to move. It occurred to me that if I straightened them up, I’d be able to fit a lot more into the drawer. So I did. And I was right. It freed up a lot more room.

          As I continued packing, I mused about how that actually applies to almost everything in life. Sometimes my .schedule gets packed full with activities but little reason behind them. I say yes to commitments that don’t hold my passion or I take too many spontaneous breaks throughout the week. I get excited about starting new projects, joining new clubs and suddenly my schedule is too full, I feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions.

          Many times, though, it is not that I need to cut out all those things I’m doing. I just need to “straighten up” my schedule. When I intentionally choose my daily activities, scheduling them at times when they most easily fit, I have more control over my schedule and am able to do those things that matter to me. And often a lot more. In fact, I can be non-stop busy for days and not feel overwhelmed. Which is another danger. When the schedule is cleared up in that way, there is a temptation add even more to the days. Just like I did with this drawer. That’s fine temporarily, as for my move. After the move, though, I need to remove anything that isn’t notepaper. Just as some activities need to be removed from the schedule instead of prolonged.

          The topic of how to choose what to include in your schedule needs to be tackled in another post. It is way too big for just a paragraph or two in this blog. I’ll leave you to contemplate if and how your schedule needs streamlining and straightening. Me? I’m off to pack some more . . . or maybe sleep?