An Ugly four Letter Word: “Busy”

 

Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze social media time in between all the other things that press me throughout the day. Connecting in the early morning before work keeps my screen time to a minimum as long as I don’t get lost somewhere reading articles on Twitter or down the rabbit hole of Pinterest.

I’m always delighted to see when someone pins something I found yummy or helpful or asks to be my friend on Facebook or finds me on Twitter, so this morning I was thrilled to find I had several new Twitter followers. One of them was Bryan Hutchinson, the founder of the blog Positive Writer. Tons of writerly advice from the trenches here!

Many of you may already know Bryan, but if you don’t, you should.When I clicked on his blog yesterday, the post I landed on was written by a guest blogger named Claire De Boer. She writes at The Gift of Writing, but her post at Positive Writer resonated with me, especially at this time of year. School ends in one month, and I have a satchel full of papers that I must finish correcting, but I was so struck by her words and my situation that I had to write. Right then in the midst of my “busyness.”

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write while I teach high school English full-time. One of my colleagues, Jill Sisson Quinn, also a writer, doesn’t think it’s possible to do both. Perhaps she’s right, but I remain ever an optimist even while the fatigue and misanthropy I feel at this time of year threatens to overwhelm me. Often at the end of the day, there is not a glass of wine big enough or a bed cozy enough to accommodate me in the throes of the end of the year rush. Therefore, I often don’t “feel”  like writing.

Often I have small chunks of time to write, but I don’t take the time. Then I justify procrastination because I won’t have time to really dive into my book or concentrate on a blog post or  finish what I start, so what’s the use? I’ve been beating myself up about it lately, too. That’s why what I read today struck me as it did.

I finally think I know why I can’t “just write.” As Claire De Boer puts it, I am disconnected from the source. She says, “When we are overly busy we run on autopilot, not fully present in our emotions or in the moment. And in that lack of presence it becomes almost impossible for our creative side to be seen or heard. As writers busyness is stifling to our craft. It disconnects us from the source of our words – that well deep inside of us that feeds our conscious minds with words.” Well, that makes perfect sense!

Two opposing forces control my life: teaching and writing. Teaching because I chose it as my profession and writing because it fills my well and connects me to my creativity. Lately the well has been empty, and once empty it is hard to find the source for refilling the well.  To be a good teacher, I have to find the time to fill the well. For me, that is writing. To paraphrase Claire’s words, unless my busy life is filled with my passions and space for my creativity and emotions to breathe, I am not serving myself or anybody else in a positive way. Her post helped me see beyond busy and connect my passion with my profession. I won’t be a good teacher if I’m devoid of the passion for language and the written word that drew me to teaching in the first place. That , after all, is what I’m trying to instill in students.

The truth is I have allowed one aspect of my life to completely control the other. I have allowed “busy” to take over my life, and, as a result, I lacked any motivation to write, even when I had a few spare moments. I still have a satchel of papers to correct. More will come in tomorrow. Am I stressed about getting everything finished in time? You bet. Am I glad I took the time to compose this post and share this insight with you? Absolutely! Will I take the time later tomorrow to work on my novel and on my new writing project? Yes. Even in snippets of time and not big stretches.

My well is full. At least, it is filling again. Maybe we all need to be reminded that writing is important, especially when we are “busy.” Writing or practicing any other art form can be a lonely and often solitary pursuit. Sharing insight like Claire did or sharing struggles the way I have done here brings us together as a community. That’s what I love about writers. Sometimes we need to share each other’s words just to know we aren’t alone, to fill the well. The more we spill, the more words will fill the void. Thanks, Claire and Bryan.

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