October 23, 2021

Separating wheat from chaff

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” ― Bruce Lee

I’ve lost count of how many weeks it’s been since life as I’ve always known it ceased. Like everyone else trying to maintain a safe distance from others, I don’t go to church or to the movies or to lunch with friends. I don’t go to the library or to the nail salon or to my favorite stores.

My only outings are daily walks and occasional trips to the grocery store and restaurants for takeout.

I haven’t minded staying home. I’ve been much more productive as a writer and I’m learning new skills as a creator of poetry and fiction. Plus, this forced down time has given me lots of time to think and focus on my inner life.

New perspectives

In all of it, several things have become very clear. If I’m to actually be a writer, I MUST limit my activities. If I’m to finish the book I’ve started, I MUST spend more time in my writing studio working on the manuscript. And if I’m to be the supportive writing teacher I aspire to be, I MUST devote more time to that pursuit.  

I know myself well enough to realize that unless I plan ahead, when life returns to some semblance of normal I’ll drift back to the way things were before the pandemic. Unless I’m very intentional, I’ll become scattered and not very productive as a writer and teacher.

So, in practical terms, what does this mean? What changes will I have to make to protect these priorities from the demands of daily life?

My life’s calling

All my life I’ve wanted time to do a lot of writing, to really devote myself to what I feel is my true calling. I’ve always marveled at writers who turn out book after book, scads of articles, essays and poems.

How do they do it, I’ve wondered, not wanting to accept what the writing life requires. In truth, I’ve always had the time, I just didn’t guard and protect it as I should. Like Stephen Covey says, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

So here’s my own writing assignment (spark) for this week. What changes am I going to make in the coming weeks to ensure the writer in me gets to flourish? Which activities will go and which will I keep? And what other changes brought on by the pandemic will I continue and what will I cast aside?  


Writing spark

Make a list of the positive changes you’ve experienced because of forced social distancing. Make a separate list of the changes you’ll be glad to leave behind. Then consider how you can hold onto the positives once some semblance of normalcy returns. Be specific and intentional in your planning on paper.


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