In a Super Soul Session, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about hummingbirds and jackhammers. My friend Lisa is a hummingbird. I so admire her curiosity and willingness to try new things. Conversations with Lisa are like a feast as she tells me about the books she’s reading and the myriad activities she’s involved in. She, like a hummingbird, samples many of life’s rich experiences. Elizabeth Gilbert says hummingbirds are “cross-pollenating the world with their creativity and openness to new ideas.” A lovely image.
I am a jackhammer. I drill down, laser-focused on my passion—writing. Elizabeth Gilbert says the gift of the jackhammer is efficiency. She also says we are “obsessive, fundamentalist, and a little difficult. And loud.” Guilty as charged. When I am writing, hours can tick by without my notice. In my defense, when I climb into my characters’ world, I need some solid time for continuity. The down side is I neglect other things like exercise, meditation, housework, and just plain fun.
Elizabeth Gilbert sees value in both creatively exploring hummingbirds and intensely passionate jackhammers.
What I have realized is, as a jackhammer, I need to hummingbird more. When I’m working at my desk, I set the timer on my phone for thirty minutes to force myself to get up and do something—yoga, meditate, empty the dishwasher—something. It would work if I didn’t absently cancel the timer and continue writing. I need BALANCE.
When I was in college, I loved setting up my class schedule on a calendar, blocking out the hours of each class. I also worked part-time, so I would block out my work schedule. This gave me structure. Teaching was the perfect career for me because my day was dictated by my class schedule. I even had to use the restroom on schedule, usually at 55 minutes past the hour. And fast. Twenty minutes for lunch by the time I dismissed third hour and got back to my room for fourth hour. The interesting thing is, the busier my schedule, the more I accomplish.
Now, as a full-time writer, my day can stretch before me with no intentional plan except “write.” So, this year, I’m going to set up a schedule and block off time for writing, time for yoga, time for mediation, time for reading, time for exercise, even time for fun. If I write down a schedule, it’s like a contract with myself, and I’m more likely to pay attention to it. This, I hope will lead me to my “one little word” for 2018: BALANCE.
Unless, of course, I’m writing.
What is your “one little word” for 2018?