TODAY’S ARTICLE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE the latest in the Read Like a Writer series, in which I would write about how Sue Monk Kidd Structured her memoir, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. But when Sunday, the day I write my blog posts, rolled around, I found myself procrastinating. And then procrastinating some more. I felt such a strong inner reluctance to write, that it pulled me up short. Upon reflection, I realized I was simply tired.
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I push myself pretty hard most of the time. I’m all about productivity and efficiency. (You probably know this if you’re on my email list, because I’ve been sending out emails promoting its virtues.) I have a creative day job, and around and outside that I write, take on editing clients, run online classes, and spend quite a bit of time on book planning and marketing. I exercise, participate in a writing critique group (my lifeline), and am involved in two political action groups. All in addition to the activities I don’t really count, like shopping and cooking (I love to cook) and cleaning house.
But, Sunday morning I realized I needed a day off. And with that realization, I gave myself permission to be purposefully non-productive for an entire day. A mini-vacation of sorts.
For me, this means sitting in bed propped up on pillows until 11:00 a.m., writing in my journal and allowing myself to browse the web for news. It means taking a walk, watering the garden, harvesting tomatoes and making tomato soup and tomato sauce for freezing. It means reading for pleasure instead of editing or analysis—something I have painfully little time to do in my normal schedule. It means playing Angry Birds Blast on my iPhone (useless!) and sitting on the back patio watching the sunset.
The reason I’m writing about this is that I think it’s important to listen our hearts.
If you’re feeling resistance to something, there’s a reason. Often, the underlying reason for resistance is fear or insecurity and, in those cases, the remedy is most often to push through the resistance. Other times, resistance is a sign that you’ve overcommitted or are pushing yourself to do something you really don’t want to do. In those cases, I think it’s perfectly okay to give yourself permission to change plans.
You’ll know it’s the right choice if, when you decide to adjust, you feel lighter, like you suddenly have more room to breathe. And that’s how I felt when I decided not to write that article.
Do you allow yourself to change plans and occasionally give yourself a day of purposeful non-productivity? If so, what do you like to do on those “days off”?
Next week, I’ll be talking about how to write better dialogue.
And our next book in the Read Like a Writer series is Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Be sure to pick up your copy and join the discussion on October 30.