Children don’t know about rhythms, not the ones we adults recognize, anyway. Their internal beat is like one from another culture – African, Asian, Alien – that is not the 4/4 we Westerners are used to. Time is of no consequence. Play always, eat whenever, sleep only when legs will no longer run. Until my children are old enough to tune into the boring beat of responsibility, I must attempt to live with an erratic pulse.
I fantasize about a time when I, the Writer and Business Woman, will have my own rhythm by which to structure my day. Writers are always interested in the working habits of their fellow wordsmiths as they try to unscramble the secret code of being a writer. One thing comes through from these stories: There is no one way to practice your craft.
The two stories I recall (and I have no memory of where I read them or to whom they refer) offered just two possibilities. I’m guessing this first one sounds downright luxurious to most of us. The writer in question would arise at a fairly normal hour, say 7AM, eat breakfast, walk the dog, and then go back to bed! Wow. She would then get back up a few hours later and write into the night. The second author was a mother (ahhh, someone I can relate to). She would get up crazy, crazy early, like 4AM (oh, no longer relating), work until the kids got up, get them off to school and then write for a couple more hours. After that I don’t recall how she spent her day – I would guess zoned out with exhaustion.
For how differently these two women scheduled their life, one thing is consistent: Discipline.
I am learning to structure my days in order to be more efficient and productive, but it is difficult. So many times my mood and energy depends on how many times I was yanked out of REM sleep by a Mama! or how the wake up-breakfast-school departure went off. Some days I can sit in front of my computer all day with not much more to show than some meaningless babble on Facebook. On these days I need to give myself permission to sit on the couch with my journal or a good book (and consider it research). I’ve written before about the benefit of the spaces in between work, but it is hard to remember the creative benefit of stopping once in a while. I also have to remember that doing a load of laundry or meeting a friend for lunch will not kill my career. The Work From Home police are not going to come and check up on me to see if I took a break to have a cuppa.
But efficiency is the name of the game. My goal is to set time limits on myself. Half and hour to journal before the work day begins, another half an hour to email (and OK, Facebook – for business purposes). Two hours to write whatever piece I’m currently working on, and then my blog. Another day it might be writing an Examiner article or preparing for an upcoming workshop. Whatever it is I’m working on, I have to block out the time in advance and be fair to myself. Don’t work at it until I’m ragged but turn to something else to always keep it all fresh and exciting. I must take breaks and most importantly, schedule in some FUN!
I’m still struggling to get the hang of this working from home thing. Time away from the computer still feels like I’m slacking. But I dream of the day when my day will run like clockwork from bed-rise to beddie-byes. I will churn out words like John Grisham, I will email and do paperwork as if I was my own legal secretary, and I will make beds and pick up toys with the spit-spot of Mary Poppins. And then at 3:30 precisely, I will shut down the computer and put on my Mommy hat.
Rhythm. Sometimes it is hard to keep in time with a new and unfamiliar one. But if you keep at it, eventually the beats, the rests, and the cadences will click with your own and you’ll be able to dance.
Prompt: What does your ideal day look like? Does it have a rhythm?
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