I often read two books at a time: one on my kindle, one in hard copy—their different tones competing for space in my head. I almost always work on more than one freelance project in a given week, and really, most of the time, I’m gnawing on multiple pieces of my own fiction. To be really honest, I often have my phone, my kindle and my laptop all spread out on the couch before me in the wee hours before my son wakes. And how many times do I find myself toting a child who is really too old to be carried anymore, a shopping bag, my purse, and a sweaty brow?
Imagine what our lives would be like if we did only one thing at a time?
For 2 weeks my three year old is home from his usual routine of 4 days of pre-school. I thought that I would be harried, overwhelmed, annoyed. And there is, I cannot lie, a definite sense of not having enough “me time.” But honestly? When all there is to do is focus on being his mom, and there’s not enough time to worry about work or writing, then I simply don’t worry about them. Strangely, just being his mom actually is a lot easier when I let go of my attempt to also work and write.
And in those wee hours before he wakes, I do write or work, and relish in the peace of being able to focus.
What would it be like to focus on one thing, one aspect, one goal for your writing this year? Maybe even just an intention for it: like learning to write crisp, tense dialogue; or committing to writing every day. Or something more nebulous: to write only work that makes YOU happy. And what about every time you sat down to work on it, you did not try to hold the whole thing in mind, but focused on only one aspect: one scene, one conversation, one powerful description of a setting, one free flowing moment of words streaming on the page?
Though I suppose it is unrealistic for us to do only one thing at a time in most aspects of our lives, I encourage you, exhort you even, to try it when and where you can. In your material world, and in the world of your words.
Let’s make 2012 be the year we do things slowly, carefully, patiently. Play with our children wholeheartedly. Feel our feet on the earth. Read every word in a book. Write as though there is absolutely nothing else pulling on you.
Happy almost New Year
Look for my new classes in 2012: Plot Intensive, and Novel Intensive