I’ve been thinking a lot about busyness and how I spend my time lately. In part, it’s been prompted by this article on “The Busy Trap” and, in part, by the one-year anniversary of working full-time as a writer (yay!).

So much of the last year has revolved around writing. Not just writing but publishing: reading articles and blogs and tumblrs and twitter and FB and PM announcements and Kirkus reviews and message boards and ag. I like being aware of what’s going on in the YA community and the market. But I’ve hit a point where I don’t know that it’s good for me to be quite so aware, you know? I like supporting other writers, but if I’m not online for a day I don’t want to feel hopelessly behind in life.  And honestly, I think a lot of it goes back to a false sense of control, that by being up on all the news and gossip I somehow feel important and part of it. I love the YA community; many, many writers and librarians and bloggers have been incredibly supportive and welcoming to me. But sometimes? All this social media just makes me feel lonely and insecure, like I’m pressing my nose to a window, outside looking in. Do you ever feel like that?

I am incredibly lucky to work from home as a writer. We don’t have kids yet; I get to choose how to spend most all of my time. And I’ve been spending too much of it online. It’s so easy to fall into. But this week I deleted my Tumblr. I streamlined my FB newsfeed and my Twitter friends list and my Google Reader. It made me feel lighter.

I was also inspired by my friend Rob, who made up a list of things he wanted to do before he turned 30. He’s made a new list every year since then (he’s turning 33 in Oct) and inspired lots of our friends to make 30x30s or 35x35s. Last week we had dinner in Williamsburg and he was chatting about his current list, which you can read here. It involves things like: swim with sharks, have a Guinness in Ireland, go to the pirate museum in Massachusetts, fire an M-16, design a guitar. He’s an eclectic guy. It inspired me to start working on a 33×33 list of my own. So far, my list involves: joining a gym, taking a cooking class, taking an ASL class, running a 5k, keeping a journal every day for a month, hosting a dinner party, that kind of thing. I’m less adventurous than Rob. But I’m really interested in making sure that I’m doing stuff besides writing. I think it’ll help me feel more inspired when I get back to the computer.

What about you? If you were making a list, what would be on it?

4 Responses

  1. Hi Jessica! I too read this article this week and had an "Amen!" moment. I current work full-time outside the house while working on my first YA novel in my spare time. I'm currently on Twitter & FB and when Goodreads and Pinterest raged, I opened accounts. But then I started to stress – I was running out of time in the day! I decided I had to draw the line somewhere and just keep active in Twitter & FB for now. But even still, with the day job and the pressure to complete a fantastic manuscript, I'm burned out. My manuscript is currently with a freelance editor and I had told myself that during that time I would work on completing my website, write a host of blogs to post, blah, blah, blah. I haven't done any of that! After my vacation in May I told myself to knock it off. It isn't a race. If I need the downtime, I take it (which usually occurs when my body wins over my mind in exhaustion).

    1. I think reminding yourself that it's not a race is really smart. Especially in summertime – even when we're not in school anymore, I feel like summer is still for a slower pace, for playing and relaxing and reading and swimming and all those good things. Personally, I've got some crazy deadlines coming up but I'm also building time to go to my parents' for a few days in August and just read by the pool!

  2. Love this post, Jessica! I've definitely fallen into the social media trap time and time again. I'm trying to be in the mindset that if something REALLY BIG happens, I'll hear about it one way or another, but I don't need to be plugged in ALL THE TIME.

    I also love the list idea. I have a bucket list lying around that I haven't looked at since I checked off Item #1 a couple years ago (finish a novel!). But I feel like if all I do is write all the time, that will eventually make me a really dull writer. Living life is where ideas and observations come from, right?

    Thanks for the NYT link! Good luck with your list!

    1. Thanks, Marissa! I think "refilling the well" and just living life is a really important part of creativity. I want to do this forever, and not burn out, you know?

      I'd love to know what else is on your bucket list!

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