Writers And Entrepreneurs Need Rest Too

When I was in elementary school, I broke my foot. I flipped off my bunk bed, landed on the ground and all of a sudden my foot would not work without a piercing pain. I hobbled to the kitchen where my parents played cards with my aunt and uncle and informed them of what occurred and soon learned how to use crutches.

I remember when I tried to place pressure on my foot prematurely that it hurt and I was angry, but not because of the pain. I was upset because my foot did not function like it did before. This was my first experience with the injustice that not only can we break our bikes and every door in the house if we kick them, (sorry mom and dad) but also ourselves.

Painter sleepingI mentioned before that the most recent season at work was brutal. I thought I broke myself mentally. I could not remember simple tasks. I had little to no energy to play with my kids when I got home. And writing? The thought of spending another moment with a computer made me ill. It was rough all around.

A week ago, after things slowed down at work, I became angry that I could not just dive into another blog. I needed to get going because I had books and a website to launch. The more I thought about it the more I stewed. The angrier I was at my inability to write, the more I became frustrated that I was doing nothing. It was a vicious cycle. The pressure to produce weighed on me and I could not shake my lethargy, or so I thought.

It’s taken sometime to learn a lesson that I should have learned when I was young – I am not a machine. I can break – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The stories of Sherlock Holmes living off no sleep and cocoa leaves are just not possible. Sure you can go on little sleep for a while (I have four kids) but sooner or later you crash.

There are different seasons of life. Some of planting, harvest, and rest. I needed to let my mind settle and heal by simple reading and planning.

Grace is what I needed most in the aftermath of a stressful experience.

Grace to be.

Grace to breathe and not feel the stress that comes from the need to produce.

But as with all seasons there is also a time to move on to the next one.

Now, my workload at work is back to a normal pace and I have more bandwidth for other projects at home.

This past Friday night, I did not feel like mush. So we ordered pizza. Then my kids got into their pajamas and we turned up the music and resumed our long-missed after dinner dance party. Then, by the encouragement of my lovely wife, I went to the bookstore to write. 

And you know what? Just like when my foot healed and I did not need my crutches any more it felt amazing to write again.

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White Space And Why Every Writer Needs It.

If you are like me, your life is filled with noise. I’d love to be the pondering cabin dwelling writer, however, I live in a much more vibrant world. I have a wife, three (soon to be four) kids, a full time job, and a budding writing career. This is not to mention the housework, the extra curriculars, the struggling to make ends meet, and trying to stay in shape.

Life can move at such a pace that I feel if I make one misstep, the collapsing bridge will catch up with me like a villain in an Indiana Jones movie.

Ever feel this way? When you are overwhelmed and there is no rest in sight?

One thing I’ve learned is that though I desire a night where I sleep more than six hours straight or have four uninterrupted hours on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, there is little chance that I’ll get it. At least more than twice a year.

So how does one find the capacity to charge into the creative foray of writing every day? The key for me has been to clear out bits of time for White Space.

Photo Credit: slightly everything via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: slightly everything via Compfight cc

White Space is the clean, nothing space. It’s like a newly fallen snow. It’s pristine, uninterruptable space. Where you take a brief walk, close your eyes, lie back in your car, and just clear your head. It’s a bite size respite in the current of a frenzied life.

My White Space happens during the week at lunch. I clear my head by walking down a park path that weaves through a forest. Or, I go downstairs to my desk and kick my feet up and read in the early morning or late evenings.

In this space I pray, journal, or read something inspiring, or just am quiet. I breath deeply and soak in the silence or rustle of the leaves as they are brushed by the wind.

White space is precious to me because its budgeted clear your head time. I know I need it when I am wound a little too tight from work or life and I need to visit my park or read quietly pronto. It doesn’t have to be an hour or even a half hour as long as I have a handful of minutes to find the quiet.

For me, White Space creates balance and gives perspective. Do you create White Space in your life? How do you spend it?