"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." --Henry David Thoreau
My answer? I say, pickle it.
Writing, not unlike the process of pickling which involves a cucumber becoming a pickle, is a process of "becoming." We don't arrive complete. Cucumber vines, after all, don't grow pickles.
Yet writing takes time--becoming a writer takes time--while time is often at a premium. So many other things to do. Therefore, I propose we protect our writing time by...pickling it.
So, without further ado (and while eating a pickle...Well, not really. I'm actually eating watermelon while I write this, but some people do pickle watermelon rinds), here we go:
P--Preserve patterns of writing, protect them, persevere in them. Give yourself permission to write, first of all, then set aside pockets of time in which to do so--whether it be short-term goals, targets, journaling, writing exercises, a half-hour here/half-hour there. Whatever propels you as a writer and puts words on paper.
I--Inhale as you go, and don't feel guilty if you miss the mark occasionally. The joy is in the becoming, not in checking off a to-do list. Breathe in the beauty around you--in your adventures, relationships, opportunities. Take time to enjoy--and appreciate. A writer is far more than that of the solitary figure up in her writing tower, laboring away and never enjoying life.
C--Choose goals wisely. Margie Lawson, in a post titled, 'Duh' Your Way to Success, says research indicates that Americans expect to complete 42% more than they can possibly do in any given time frame. "No wonder people are stressed and depressed," she says. "They continually push themselves to fail." Don't overschedule--but don't cancel out completely, either.
K--Know your personal rhythms and best times of the day in which you can squirrel away a little writing time. Anticipate the ups and downs of those cycles--and keep on keeping on. Be kind to yourself. Award kudos when you do make progress. And keep notebooks and pens everywhere to catch those elusive inspirations that will wing themselves your way.
L--Listen, look, awaken all the senses, wherever you go, whatever you do. But also linger--at the table, in gatherings, in the moment. Learn to say no, but also agree at times to say yes! Lighten up. In the long run, it's all part of the becoming.
E--Exhale. Relax. Release. Ann Roecker, in A Workshop on Time Management (Zondervan 1988), wrote: "Time...is easily mismanaged. If we want to manage our time effectively, we must also learn to manage it realistically." In her opinion, important skills to cultivate include the ability to change course, the ability to recover quickly, and the ability to forgive oneself and others repeatedly.
Certainly we all must find what works for us. Not every pickle tastes the same. But there's one thing we do have in common, and that is the challenge of making time enough to write. That's where PICKLE comes in.
How do you preserve and protect your writing time in the summer? Or do you adjust your writing cycles to seasons, and change things around?
Other quotes on time:
---"You can't turn back the clock but you can wind it up again." --Bonnie Prudden
---"Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction."--Nido Qubein
---"Procrastination is the thief of time." --Joseph Heller
---"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." --Groucho Marx (ha!)