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Monday, December 19, 2011

Taking Time to Enjoy Life

Courtesy of Nossirom
It's that wonderful time of year again. The month that's stuffed full of celebrations and family togetherness. And like all times like this, crazy, hectic, busy.

And some of that frenetic energy can dribble into other aspects of our lives like writing. As a goal-driven Triple A-type personality, this means that I watch self-appointed deadlines whoosh by with tense muscles and fierce determination to somehow keep on top of everything.

But doing that defeats the purpose.

In order to be productive, certain goals need to be met--whether they're openly stated or not. And yet, sometimes it's all too easy to get caught up in the doing and checking off of little boxes that we lose sight of why we're doing what we're doing. At least I do. Not only does this add to the other stresses, but it also drains my creativity well until there's nothing left but a little sand and a lot of rocks.

So this year, and the next, I'm going to work on enjoying life a little more. Writing is important. My book schedule is good because it keeps me going and gives me something to aim for--so long as I remember that it's just there to help me accomplish the tasks I set out to do. But when those goals become all I see--mostly because they're the balls that keep slipping away as I try to juggle everything--then I need to remember to take a step back and just breathe.

It's a proven fact that breathing helps you live longer, so I'm going to aim to do it a little more often.

Sometimes it's okay to turn off the Writing Boss glaring at you from behind a cluttered desk in a corner of your brain. Sometimes it's okay to ignore the empty word count bar and go on an outing with family and friends. Sometimes it's okay to watch a movie, read a book, have a conversation with a friend instead of getting the writing done.

It's all about balance. When the joy that comes from uncovering the threads of a story becomes work for an extended period of time, then it's probably a good idea to stop. Step back. And take stock of what's really going on.

I've found that even if I miss deadlines I've set for myself, if I'm balanced, I'm a lot more productive than when I force myself onward and upward too hard for too long.

So this next week, instead of chaining myself to the computer to stay on track, I'm going to slip out into a world filled with wonder and colorful lights. I'm going to enjoy the sound of laughter and joy, and watch the snow coat everything with white.

Because *not* sitting at a keyboard and writing doesn't mean you're not being productive. Sometimes stepping away from the goals and the writing means you're filling up your creative reservoir and giving yourself space to take off so you can really fly.

How do you know when it's time to take a step back and just enjoy what's going on in the here and now?

 Danyelle Leafty (@danyelleleafty) writes MG and YA fantasy. In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She can be found discussing the art of turning one's characters into various animals, painting with words, and the best ways to avoid getting eaten by dragons on her blog.


Stina said...

Hmmm. I'm going to have to get back to you on this, Danyelle. I have no idea. :)

Anonymous said...

I have a serious issue with self-motivation and -determination. I wish had these immensely important traits, but they're something I've always struggled with. I always say something like, "hopefully I can get on top of things soon," but the words are always type or said with hollow meaning. Sometimes I think I need to see a therapist - seriously - to help me be able to take these changes I want to make seriously. But there are a few things I want to try with the new year - I guess you could call them resolutions, although I'm wary of labeling them that way because I've never had much luck with them in the past - that I think could really help.

I'm always so caught up in dreaming about the future and what I want to happen in my life that I forget to take stock of what's going on around me in the present. Maybe I should create a theme around 2012 and focus the entire year around being grounded in the "here and now."