If you’re like most writers you’ve probably sworn to yourself at one time or another that you will make time for your writing. And then…you didn’t make time for your writing. Or maybe your New Year’s resolution this year was to write more, to write every day, and now…it’s three weeks later and you’re still just not doing the amount of writing necessary in order for you to feel happy and creatively fulfilled.
It happens to all of us.
My yoga teacher frequently reminds me that with every breath I take I draw in more space. I’m making room in my body and mind for oxygen, light, and awareness. Writing is very similar. It needs space. That’s why Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own still resonates so strongly. The room isn’t just a place for the writer to sit undisturbed. It’s for the writing itself, which needs energetic space in which to uncoil and expand.
The “room” you give your writing includes physical space, time out of your life, your intellectual attention, and your emotional energy.
These things are like money. There will always be something else cropping up in your life that wants to be paid. But if you use your time and energy to pay everything else first, it’s very likely there won’t be anything leftover to give toward your writing at the end of the day.
In order to give your writing what it needs, it can be highly effective to use a well-known tool of those who are financially savvy. It comes down to one simple rule:
Pay yourself first.
If your daily schedule is filled with tasks and demands, make your writing the first thing you do every morning to ensure it receives your time. If your busy social life on the weekends doesn’t leave you with adequate energy to work on your writing, make it a point to go to just one happy hour instead of two. If you have a friend who constantly shows up on your doorstep in crisis mode tell that person firmly that from now on, you won’t be available on an on-call basis.
Take careful stock of your activities, your friends, and your schedule. Where are you leaking energy? Every time you make the choice to put your writing first, you simultaneously plug one of the tiny black holes that siphon your time and attention away from your creative life. You make room for your writing. You make space for your creative potential to expand.
Generating more creative space in your life is just as much about enforcing boundaries as it is about broadening your limits.
If you decide that your need for creative fulfillment is one of the most important priorities in your life, others will begin to respect your decision too.
That’s really what Virginia Woolf was talking about when she said that every writer needs “A Room of One’s Own.” It’s up to us to give ourselves room to breathe.
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