As much as you need to write a lot, you also need to live a lot. If you're not living, you'll have nothing to write about. Or, for that matter, to live for. - Nadiya Chettiar
Do you let yourself do nothing?
I mean, really… nothing. Just letting your brain explode with quietness, waking up on your clock, drinking three cups of coffee and wondering about what Diane Di Prima ate while she slept in Washington Square Park while writing poetry in 1963?
Do you let yourself hide from your phone?
Your text messages? Maybe go for a walk until it rains, then pull up under your hoodie and think, “who cares” and keep walking?
Do you let yourself go? If not, why not?
I do. I hide. Phone off. Even if my partner is home (we both work from home some days) I’ll say, “Hey babe, today the kitchen is Switzerland. Otherwise, pretend I’m not here.” Ever the practical man, he will respond “And the bathroom, hon…the bathroom must be Switzerland as well”. Copy that. Now leave me the %$ alone.
Sound harsh? Maybe. But the thing is, unless I give myself the time to unspool, be unaccountable, lazy and waste time…my writing suffers.
Most often, when I need a day off it's because I am being accountable to the wrong God. I am being accountable to the God of looking like I’ve got everything right. See, I am getting it right. Put a gold star next to my name and tell me how good I am.
But I’m not. In my heart of hearts I’m not that good of a person. I’m an okay person. I’m a B plus person if I’ve meditated.
I try to show up at the baby shower with a gift, but it takes a lot from me. Amazingly enough, one of my students was pregnant during the Advanced Lab. In fact, her due date was the last day of class and she was there, forever making any absence excuse null and void. She added me to her meal train. I told her I would show up with Aristotle Casserole, which is just who I really am. I am really bad at dishes (ask aforementioned partner). I am really bad at small talk. I am really bad at life details.
But I am really good at showing up for your story, for mine, to listening where you may have disconnected, and helping you get that train back on the track. And the reason why I am good at it is... I let myself go sometimes. I give myself a day.
It’s a day where I am not asking myself to be accountable to anyone except myself. And in that time I usually solve big story issues.
At worst, I emerge from the day liking myself.
Sometimes I just need to wait until I get that hum back in my brain - this is what Shonda Rhimes calls it.
Sometimes, for us folks who are really into being accountable to each other, the best thing we can do is be accountable to ourselves. I bet you have the skill set to slack off. I bet you cut class in high school. Go ahead. Free yourself. Call in sick. Cancel plans. Stay in bed. Waste time. Be lazy. And then listen for the hum.