Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Creative energy’

The 5 Things that Matter Most

In Career, Freelance, Island Life, Minimalism, Tasmania, Writing on February 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

My days have always been filled from end to end. I love being busy, and I am more productive when I have a lot on. Until recently, however, there were a lot of things in those days that frustrated me, didn’t satisfy me, and made me feel stressed. Things like:

  • committee meetings
  • an overloaded to-do list
  • freelance jobs that didn’t reward me enough for the time/creative energy invested
  • the feeling I had to reply to every single one of millions of emails in my inbox

Managing them meant I was losing valuable time for no gain – I was doing things through obligation not passion – and it took me a while to work out what was going on (obviously, because I’d been too busy to stop and think).

I only realised that I was giving away my time too cheaply during a 10-day holiday I took to paint my living room black and white. Spending every day doing nothing but sanding, plastering and painting was very zen, and although I didn’t plan on thinking about my life, and what matters most to me, it happened anyway.

I have spent the past 6 months thinking about what matters most to me, and got it down to a very minimalist top 5.

The 5 things that matter most to me:

  1. Eating homemade meals with my family
  2. Writing
  3. Reading
  4. Running by the ocean
  5. Living in Tasmania

I make sure those 5 things come first every day. (It’s almost like a muscle you need to keep using so it doesn’t waste away.) Pay yourself with your time first.

I’m not perfect at this. And, of course, there are many things I want to do, and many things that interest me – going back to uni or starting tango lessons, for example – but I’ve had to let go of the urge to do them all right now. At the moment, anything that’s not in that top 5 are just distractions from my main goal: learning to focus on what really matters most.

 

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Running Writing

In Crime & Mystery Writer, Tasmania, Writing on January 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

No, not what we were taught at school… Running writing is the writing I do in my head when I’m running.

Running is something I’ve recently gotten back into, as a way to expend my considerable creative and nervous energy in a productive way.

I have a tendency to expend that considerable energy in an unproductive way. Usually, drinking and being a dirty stop-out. For example, during the period when I was a newspaper columnist, I reported on Sydney’s coolest events and parties (oh boy, have I got some stories from those days!). Every night started with the promise of so much, and I never wanted to go home. I spent a year meeting punishing daily deadlines with a 365-day hangover*.

But I digress…

As a creative person, drinking and partying certainly burns up the energy and provides a certain dubious creative outlet. It is undoubtedly the path of least resistance to ‘expressing’ your creativity.

But, when you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing to show for it.

Hence, running

I run outside, for quite a long time, through the Tassie bush or along the beach. Why running? In Ayurvedic terms, I’m a Pitta (mentally hotheaded, physically easily overheated), and Pittas need the sensation of the cooling breeze on their face as they exercise. We need to escape, get out, be free…

Now that I’ve broken through the initial two-week pain barrier, I’ve reached that blissful stage where I’m writing in my head as I run. I don’t ask or expect it to happen. The welcome monotony and freedom of running frees up my thoughts. I write articles this way; I write whole chapters for my books.

Running writing = free thought

The physical act of running is a good metaphor for the type of writing it produces. Writing that flows, that has good rhythm, that is without restrictions (mental or space-wise). Don’t worry that you won’t remember what you’ve written in your head. Even if you don’t get it down word-for-word, running writing flavours what you do for the hours afterwards.

And don’t worry if you don’t like running. Walking is just as good. Washing dishes. Or, as Agatha Christie liked to do it, soaking in the bath while eating apples.

*If you’ve ever seen Secret Window with Johnny Depp as the alternately neurotic and apathetic writer, you’ll have a pretty good picture of me in these phases (although I’m not that handsome and I don’t have a brilliant French life) – unwashed hair, worn Missoni dressing gown, lying on the couch recovering from a hangover. And the avoidance of writing dreadlines that have taken on a life of their own…

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