put your heart-work first

stencilled graffiti on concrete: I wish my brain had a map to tell me where my heart should go...
love this and totally get the sentiment -- I often feel like writing is the "map-making" that my heart does to help my head figure out where to go...

A good and full weekend — time with the Mr, time chilling in our house (get it?!? ha ha — nope, not funny), time apartment-visiting.

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This weekend is the first Writing the Flood of 2011! A few spaces are still open — we’re filling up fast! Let me know if you’d like to join us for an afternoon of new writing and excellent community …

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Today’s the first day of a new schedule: I’m taking Monday for a writing day, and then devoting the next four days of the week to the day job (an extra day right now, so that we can build up some funds in anticipation of our coming move).

I remember reading or hearing, sometime toward the end of last year, and I think this was via Caryn Mirriam Goldberg, that it was important to make a weekly space/time for one’s writing (or other creative expression), and that this person put that time at the beginning of the week, rather than at the end — on Monday, first thing, rather than on Friday, after so much other work had been done. I read that and thought, Oh, right. Of course. What a brilliant idea. Put your heart-work first, before the bill-paying work, before anything else.

For quite awhile, I’ve had Friday as a writing/workshop prep day — however, I tend to look forward to it as a “day off,” a day away from the office, a day to rest and recover. Though I make it clear to others that Friday is not a vacation day, not a day to goof around, what tends to happen is that I go to the cafe and barely make it through my three morning pages before I’m reading the local weeklies, reading whatever book I’m in the middle of, preparing something somewhat elaborate for lunch, making plans with the Mr or with friends… generally treating my writing day like a weekend-day.

Here’s the other thing that happens, though: at the end of the week, I know all the tasks I haven’t accomplished that week, what’s still sitting on my To-Do list, who I need to write to or call, things that others have asked me to do that I committed to and now need to complete. What happens is that I want to take care of everyone else first, I want (or, my inside editor-self wants) to make sure that all those other jobs are done and put to bed before I open my notebook and write. I end up spending my writing day on those tasks — which, yes, need to get done, and also are easy procrastination.

What would happen, I wondered, if I took all of my Monday energy and devoted that to my writing projects, after taking my regular weekend to rest and play and rejuvenate?

Here’s the first day of that experiment — and so far, it feels good! Up early, morning writing by candlelight, and then off to the cafe for some novel-writing time. Now to get some of those pages typed up, and a newsletter out. I feel like I’ve harnessed something important, as I switch around my schedule to make room for everything necessary. Turns out there is time enough to fully engage with what’s important.

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A prompt for today — you might want to write about what your life (or your character’s life) would look like if you put what’s important to your heart first, if you took care of you before others, if you stepped away from making sure that everyone else is taken care of before you sit down to your own desires (if that’s a struggle for you or your characters, that is!) — just take 10 minutes, and write out the possibilities, the fears, the worries, the opportunities: what would it taste like, smell like, feel like, look like, to be easy with you first and foremost?

Thank you for all you do that is so concerned with others’ well being — and thank you, too, for the ways you tend to your own wellness. Thank you for your creativity, your heart, your words.