By Sarah Lynne Reul
If there’s one piece of writing advice I’ve heard at every conference and in nearly every writer’s article, it’s some variation of “Create Everyday”.
As a perpetual procrastinator who’s also a full-time, self-employed author, illustrator & animator, I can definitely see the benefit of daily ritual to overcome potential writer’s block. After all, you can’t edit a blank page.
I’ve (intermittently) loved participating in the 100day project. Although it’s different from the work I create to submit for publication, it’s been satisfying to complete a daily act of creativity and to pay attention to the world in a slightly different way.
However, sometimes I get caught up in the world of to-do lists, and trying to squeeze some kind of work, creative or otherwise, into every spare block of time. Since I’m also a mom of two girls (3 & 7), time to myself is somewhat of a luxury. When I’m able to get a few minutes on my own I feel like I should make the most of it. Then I see articles about maximizing those in-between moments (writing while waiting in line at the grocery store, sketching while the kids are in the playground, etc…) and it gives me a subtle twinge of guilt – I should be doing more, making more out of my time!
Last week, our family was lucky to go on vacation to Plum Island, in a house that my mother rented for all of us – and along with all of the packing, groceries, sand toys, etc, I also brought along a bunch of art supplies and my very own vacation to-do list.
But once I was there…you know what? I didn’t get anything done. And it was great.
I recently came across this article from the Harvard Business Review: “Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure”. I’m trying to use that concept as my new philosophy. In this workaholic culture, it’s nice to be reminded that a hardworking person can be justified in taking a bit of time off (and will hopefully be more productive as a result!)
My second run at the 100day project is currently stalled out day 70, but I’ve been recharging. I have a pretty good feeling that once we get back to a regular schedule in the fall, I’ll be able get going again. New ideas for stories have been floating around in my head and I’m taking just enough time to pin them down… but then I’m sitting back to enjoy my family and friends, the shade of the backyard, and the wonderful craziness of summer with kids. And I’m going to make sure that I take some extra time to myself, to zone out a bit.
I know that taking some time off is often a luxury that is difficult to justify, for financial or other reasons, but I sincerely hope you’re able to find at least a little time to do nothing this summer, to sit back and let the world wash over you.
The to-do list can wait.
Sarah Lynne Reul is an illustrator, writer and award-winning 2D animator who likes science, bright colors and figuring out how things work. Learn more at reuler.com.