Guarding Our Time

Time. It is the most elusive thing. It is a luxury of which some of us are willing to beg, borrow, and steal for. People wish for more of it, convinced if they had just a few minutes more the results could be life-changing.

It’s true. We are busy people. Our schedules leave us exhausted, delirious, overwhelmed. To survive, we are constantly juggling, balancing, shifting, always dangling just above the edge of a looming deadline.

I lose count of how many times I hear the words, “There’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done.” It pains me most when it’s my voice saying them.

We are a breed of our own: the busy.

To achieve this livable state of sleep deprivation, we make caffeine our favorite food group, existing in a jittery existence of the fear and consequences of nodding off. We are masters of the to-do list, the weekly calendar, the span of 24-hours.

Writer v. Clock

This constant battle against the clock must be universal. Surely, others feel the tremble of the ticking constantly beating beneath every step they take through their mine field of a day. We constantly avert any possible social scenario that can pose a threat to our down-to-the-second agenda, knowing if we stop long enough to smell those ridiculous flowers the less-busy always talk about it, we’re doomed.

They say the early bird catches the worm, time waits for no one, time is money, and there’s no time like the present. We are constantly bombarded by the insistence to do more, be more, live more. This is our fuel.

And then there’s writing.

I recently had an online discussion with two fellow writers in which time was our topic, specifically how to find more of it. As creative people with unconventional lives and schedules, we are often time-shamed. Example A: “When you’re done with your little writing thing, do you think you can actually spend time with your friends and family? We miss you.”

We Miss You, Too

To ask someone who is not a writer to understand how we work and why time is everything to us is asking for the impossible. Non-writers can view our desire for writing time as selfish; our writing – and the time we need for it – can inconvenience many people. We are expected to keep a more world-friendly schedule by only tapping into and channeling our creativity during business hours – and never on weekends.

Finding the time to write can become the most challenging aspect of a writer’s life. It certainly is for mine. We can tape as many Do Not Disturb signs on our home office doors we want, but that tiny flicker of guilt still remains each time we sit down at our laptops and the world continues to happen without us, hopefully missing us. It is indeed a high price to pay.

 Paying the Price

Yet, the results can be life-changing – or, more specifically, career-changing. Many of us dream of one day writing for a living, of reaching a point in which our talent and creativity sustain us. But we cannot get there without time.

The discussion with my writer friends ended with the conclusion that each of us needs to be more protective of our schedules, that we collectively have to guard our writing time. We are soldiers, protecting our own very precious turf. Because every second really does count, as much as every word we write.

The struggle against the clock, our own lives, and the demands we must meet can be a difficult one to endure. Yet, in the end, those few moments in which the world around us slips away and nothing else matters but the words on the page – they make the pace worth it. It’s usually then we feel like we won. And, as they say, even the smallest victory counts.

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Jacksonville Library Book Festival

Jacksonville Library Book Festival

Nancy and Andrea were fortunate to have been chosen to exhibit at the inaugural Jacksonville Library Book Festival in 2017.

On a beautiful Saturday in March, 150 local and national authors spread out in hallways and balconies in Jacksonville’s spectacular main library. The event was well-organized and the library staff was warm and efficient as they checked in authors, helped us find our spaces, and get the tables set up. They even checked on us from time-to-time during the day.

And, like almost any multi-author event, we met some wonderful people — both readers and other writers.

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Love and.... the Inner Critic

Love and…. the Inner Critic

How’s your self-love level? If you’ve struggled to love and approve of yourself, chances are you’ve created a list of personal qualities you like, love or approve of.  They may be physical: eyes, smile, height, weight, physical conditioning. Or, perhaps they’re spiritual or emotional qualities that influence the way you move through the world. It’s easy to love your loyalty, your compassion, or your enthusiasm, but what about the rest of you? What about your talent? Your writing or other creative endeavors?

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Sometimes making (or even reading) those lists can make us cringe, bringing up concerns about being “stuck up,” selfish, or self-centered. Those thoughts can make it difficult to stay enthusiastic about your list… especially the ones that tell us we’re imposters or talentless hacks. That’s when we really need to send some love to that inner editor.

What is healthy self-love? It requires a level of honesty and humility that allows us to see and accept our positive traits and the ones we don’t enjoy so much. We’ve learned that some of our yuckier traits can be an invitation to grow and change, an idea that works pretty well… until we bump into that critical voice inside. You know, the one that tells us we’re somehow less than others? The Inner Critic. The Inner Editor. The Bully in Your Brain. Yeah. That one.

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That’s when we start zooming around the web, reading up on the most popular Inner Critic management techniques: coach after coach, author after author offering tips and tactics to silence that inner voice. Get rid of it, kill it off, once and for all.

And, if you’ve followed that advice, you’ve probably had yet another interesting discovery: with most those strategies is, if they work at all, it’s not for long, is it? Efforts to silence the Inner Critic simply bring it back, stronger than it was before.

So what’s the answer? What does it take to get that voice to behave? Love. Unconditional love and radical self-acceptance. Excellent self-care. Support from trusted friends.

It’s true. As much as that naggy voice doesn’t feel good? It’s an important part of us, an inner warning system. To get to a comfortable level of self-love and self-acceptance means we’ve got to find a way to love that voice, too.

 

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