Time Out Tuesday: I’m 33 and Just Now Figuring It Out

I’m on vacation. In another country, living with people all the time, seeing old friends, having fun, eating all that food I’ve missed, and shopping in all those stores I’ve missed. My kids are getting spoiled rotten with exciting things to do every day, getting presents, and eating way to much sugar. It’s all very wonderful and vacationish, but did I mention we’re here for five weeks? Some of that time is work, but we’re still far away from our routine for five weeks. It’s a long time.

You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting very much since I got here. (Do you like how I’m assuming that anyone reads this often enough to notice when I’m not posting? What can I say? I’ve got imagination.) I’m trying. I really am.

When we left for vacation I thought I was planning on trying to write a new story every day. “I’m going to be on vacation,” I thought. “I’ll have so much more time to write. And I won’t be so tired.”

Go ahead and take a minute to laugh at me. I am.

Of course, the opposite has been true. I’m so busy making the most of my limited time with family and friends that I’m not sitting down with my laptop every night like I do at home. And tired? Yeah, I’m tired. Relaxed, but tired. Still, there’s time enough and energy enough. Something else is really killing my writing.

I don’t have any routine. I don’t have any discipline in my life right now. I’m giving myself a break from all my usual rules. Well, not all of them, but you know…

How can this be the first time I’ve understood this? How can I not have noticed that creativity, for all its reputation for being a free-wheeling joy rider, needs structure and discipline to flourish?

I always knew that I needed to set up a schedule in order to find the time to write and think up new things. I just don’t think I really grasped how much I need the structures of my life to keep my mind clear and focused. So I can let it run free.

I think that’s why I’ve actually been writing more now that my life is full of job and three kids and endless things to manage. Because I’ve had to become so organized and scheduled and disciplined just to survive my life that it’s actually opening up the pathways in my brain. It’s making me be a better me. Because regular me hates schedules and structure and can’t really believe that I live with a little notebook full of checklists and meal plans and an outline for every day.

So I gave myself a break from it all. The only list in my little notebook these days is my shopping list. And I don’t mean groceries. And these days, I sit down to write and the words escape me…or worse, the ideas escape me. Words are tricky, but ideas have always been my friends. It’s beyond frustrating to feel so sluggish. Most of the time I toss it in and settle down with a good book instead. I’ve always been an escapist.

All those words just to say, it’s been fun, vacation. It’s going to keep being fun. But I’m ready to put some rules back in place. It chokes me to say it, but I need them.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m even starting to like them a little.

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