I was given the morning off work today. I had some time in lieu to take and it was suggested that because the meeting I had planned to attend was cancelled, I should take advantage of the chance to take my time back.
So I did.
After a pleasant stroll with the dog in the sun, I made myself a cup of tea and pondered what I could do. I felt a pull to print out Chapter 2 of NaNo #1 and edit it. I resisted. Instead I curled up on the sofa with my cuppa, a healthy apple and watched my missed episode of The Apprentice.
Now, why did I chose to slob out in front of the TV instead of work on my novel?
I’ll tell you.
Time is that very rare thing that eludes even the most organised of individuals. I appreciate this. Therefore, typically, when I am handed time back that I expected to be spent on something else I tend to use it wisely. I’ve experienced the waste that time can seduce us into believing could be worthwhile. I’m privy to the tricks it can play, seemingly speeding up or slowing down at the most inconvenient of moments.
Well, this week for me is a privilege. I have no to-do list. No expectations. I certainly don’t feel that I have the energy or drive. Therefore when I felt that urge to print out more pages and take a seat with that red pen of mine – as I did only a day or so ago – I dismissed it. Just as my writing time is my writing time – if I dedicate an hour or two for writing, then that’s what I’m going to do – then my own time shall not be dutifully stolen by my muse on a whim.
I’ve been struggling for a few weeks – ever since I set to the task of editing my novel – and I deserve some time away, without the pressure of feeling that I ‘should’ be doing something. This is why I turned my back on editing today: because I felt that I ‘should’ be attempting it, rather than actually wanting to do it. When something you enjoy becomes a duty, it can suck all of the enjoyment out of it.
So I decided to waste the time that was given back to me. I suppose it will same me from wasting it later in the day, but this way, I feel in control of it. It can be all well and good to surrender to the hard work of novel-editing, it gives you something to show for the day, but in those chunks of time when you’re surprised by desire it can be just as empowering to put it to one side as it can be to embrace it.
Experienced writers tell us to set aside time for writing everyday, or at least set up a routine. This, it is said, regulates the muse so that they are more pliable and accepting when you truly require their aid. So, couldn’t the opposite be true also? I’m given time to do with what I will – if I acquiesce to the demands of my desire to duty – however rewarding – then am I not allowing it the freedom to control me?
That’s not to say I won’t do any writing today – I am, after all, writing A Story a Day and contributing to my blog. But…and it’s a big but…I’m permitting myself to enjoy the peace that comes without pressure or expectation or frustration. I wanted a simple morning, one not complicated or challenged by sentence structure and inconsistent mistakes in point of view. I wanted to relax, and editing is not the way to achieve this for me.
My morning is now complete. Any time from this point forward is back in the realms of normality where expectation and duty have remained. I am still free to choose how to spend my time, yet if I waste these moments it shall be the responsibility of no one but myself. I think I’ve wasted enough time for one day though…