Not Just Another Thing I Have To Do




I think writer Brenda Ueland had it right.

She said, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”

It’s all about play and slowing down.

Writing is enjoyable. Even during a long dry spell. Even when the words feel heavy and meaningless.  Even during these times, it is important to remember that I do like to write. 

When I don’t rush.  When I slow down like I do for any mindful activity like walking or meditating. When I slow down to let the words fall good or bad on my page. 

Writing is joyful.

In my Developing a Writing Habit class, I tell students to think of writing as not just one more thing you have to do. It’s what you choose to do. It’s what you want to do.

Writing is about exploring, expressing and playing.  Writing is about making discoveries, solving problems, creating new worlds, and feeling a whole spectrum of emotions.

Never make it seem like it’s just a chore that you need to do or you’ll never do it.

Yes, there will be times when it’s frustrating and difficult and you won’t feel like doing it.

 But hang in there just a little longer and things will change.

They always do.  

And when it does the magic of writing will return.

As Sherlock Holmes once said to Watson, “The game is afoot.”


There’s so much out there in this world eating up my time, getting my attention. SO much to read, so much to see, so much to experiment with, so much to learn, so much to do and also so much to write.

Yesterday I was enjoying a sunny morning in my study writing, reading and sorting through old work. And mumbling to myself as I went.  ‘I forgot about this. I need to get back at this story. Oh this was a good idea.’           On and on I went.

I soon started to get frustrated with myself.

What have I been doing with my time all these years?

Look at how much I want to do and how little time there is!

I found a story idea that I wanted to expand. I found some postcards to color. I discovered a book to read on my book shelf.

And then there’s my long list of emails with newsletters  full of inspiration every day for me to read.

Today would also be a perfect day to walk in the woods or by the river.

FOCAI: The plural meaning of focus.

Every where I turn I see abundance. I see new discoveries and wonderful experiences waiting for me and I see even more stories to write.

When will I find time?

The most appropriate answer for me is to focus.

Focus on today. What fills my spirit? What do I want to do now?

The most important thing I can do is to continue to live my creative life, moment to moment. Let go of the distractions that do not serve me now.

Today my room is a well of inspiration. I need not be frustrated.

Stay focused on the joy of what I am doing and that well will never go dry.

And there’s plenty of time to enjoy everything.


The Library of Babel.     Artist: Douglas Argue

Lake Moment

My accidents tend to happen when I am rushing or thinking about something in the future so I am not paying attention. Then silly things happen like I get my fingernail stuck in the underside of a bowl’s rim. If I don’t move slowly I’ll rip the nail across in a not so pretty and painful way. 

How did that happen?

When I’ve had this happen more than once, it makes me think.
Slow it down. Pay attention to this moment not some moment in the future. I’m not there yet.
“We’ll get there when we get there,” I hear these words in my head.
I was in Duluth last week with my sisters celebrating birthdays. On our last day on Friday morning, I took an early morning walk along the wonderful board walk. A beautiful day for a walk. A downtown clock chiming out 6 am. There was a blue sky and quiet and a 64 degree temperature. The lake at my side. There was plenty of time. No hurry. The last I heard we would be leaving at around 10 am.
My sisters back at the hotel not wanting to go for a stroll. Their minds on getting home. No longer was the location important. It was time to go home. No longer were they appreciating the remaining time they had at a place they wanted to be just a few hours before. 
So an hour later I get a call from my sister, ” Where are you? Better get back the bus is leaving. We’ve packed the car. I want to get back before rush hour.” 
It was only 7:30 am and they wanted to hit the road. But no they didn’t. They just wanted me back to the hotel. It was only a two hour ride home but suddenly it was time to rush. We did not have to be back until early afternoon. My sisters minds now focused on the future and on an eventual stop at a casino. We had plenty of time yet it was time to hurry. I was not getting ready like they thought I should.
And I was on Duluth time. Location, location, location. I would not be staying at this hotel in the future and we were right on the lake. It was a blessing to be there and I was still there. They were no longer on Duluth time. Their minds on Father’s Day plans on Sunday, on posting to Facebook on their iPad, watching tv, eating dinner at 6 pm. My sisters were thinking about their future and not the last few hours we had time to spend together in a beautiful place.
I was happy to have taken the walk. My sisters probably won’t regret not spending that valuable time outdoors like I did enjoying the scenery that one last time. I knew I would not have this incredible view tomorrow when I took my city walk. 
It made me aware of how much we all rush to get to the next place or the next event when we decide our vacation is officially over when it really isn’t – not quite yet. Rush to the next moment as if this moment is just not worth paying attention to. Did my walk interfere with their future plans? No. There was plenty of time to get home and to even stop at the casino. That was where their minds were then.
We all get caught up in the idea that there is always something better over the rainbow that we need to rush to it and forget to look at what is right out in front of us and what time there is left to enjoy it.
Soon I will hear my sisters say how fast that weekend went. How time just flew by. When I think back about that early morning walk, I will remember how time seemed to fall into a synchronized pace and how peaceful I felt. Maybe I was not able to slow down time, but I was present enough to enjoy it.