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Everything I Ever Learned I Learned During the Year of Writing

Okay, that's not true. But I did learn some valuable things that I will treasure for a long time. As I will my brain to start thinking in "now go find a job" mode, I wanted to make sure to record these lessons before I forget them.

What I learned during my Year of Writing:
That my favorite parts of writing are often what gets lost when there is not enough time, i.e. daydreaming and thinking. I'd been fairly successful at making sure I wrote while working full-time, but getting words on a page is a very different thing than being able to think deeply about which words and why. That is what I find most satisfying in writing, and I had stopped making it a priority in exchange for producing pages. The challenge now will be to create space for daydreaming and thinking while also working.

I have never, ever been busier in my life. Not having a job meant I could say yes to a lot of things I wanted to, but wouldn't have been able to before. It netted a rich, full schedule. A large part of the joy in my time spent is simply being very engaged by what I am doing (a factor that was really missing in my old work, and was spilling over into the rest of my life).

That naps are sometimes necessary after a creative morning.

That no one will necessarily understand what you are trying to do, though hopefully one or two close to you will; some will be jealous, some will make light of your pursuit, some will feel judged by your choice, and some will want to use it to their advantage. But your cats will love it.

You have to figure out a way to manage the guilt over getting away with something so wonderful.

Time management involves thought management: i.e., worrying over whether you are using your time well, or getting enough done, doesn't necessarily lead to using your time well.

On the days when the writing wasn't coming, telling myself, "It's okay, you don't have to be a writer," immediately put things in perspective. Because being a writing is who I am, even if the writing isn't coming that day.

And perhaps my most surprising lesson: that I'm genuinely looking forward to going back to work. The process of finding work is extremely painful, and I can't wait for this part to be over, but I actually really look forward to working with others on things other than my personal pet projects. There's a part of me (a cowardly part perhaps) that is looking forward to working again simply because I usually feel more successful at work than I do in writing, as the standards for achievement exist on such a different plane. A lot of writing is struggle, and having something very different to do makes the struggle seem special, rather than the most critical thing in your day.
      I do feel like I have skills and talents that I miss using, that writing could tie into, but doesn't currently, and that this stage in life (generativity vs. stagnation, if we're paying attention to Erik Erikson's stages of human development) does feel made for new challenges. There's a tiny voice in me that says that means I'm not a real writer, but that tiny voice is really annoying and when I think back to what I want from life, I remember that being a "writer" is a mode of being, a way of seeing and engaging with the world, not a title.  
     So, on to the next challenge; employment!


  1. Oh I can SO relate to this! I did the same thing when I was not working and just writing: finding volunteer opportunities, writing reviews, just in general doing things that time didn't allow for before; but, I'm also with you in that I'm ready to go back to work. My writing has felt very ho-hum lately and I'm not sure why. I think, perhaps, having my time occupied with other things again (even menial things like pushing paper around) will give my mind that space to create again. Or, that is what I hope. Maybe we will both get the employment fairy to come our way soon!


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