Certain holidays hold great memories for me. Memorial Day always signaled school ending and an entire summer waiting for me – a glorious summer with nothing to do but swim and play. The long weekend was filled with hope, expectation, and dreams. In contrast, Labor Day announced the end of fun and the new school year. I loved Memorial Day.
As an adult, that excitement around the holiday faded. Now it’s just sale time at Home Depot, a day to get the yard work completed and an extra day to clean the house. After a long day in the yard, my husband complained this past holiday weekend was nothing but work. Mostly he’s referring to me because he’s still in medical recovery with little stamina. I am a self-professed workaholic.
When I see an open schedule, I immediately fill it with things to do- supposedly productive and constructive things. When I check off my list, I feel like I made the day worthwhile. Sleeping after a lazy day is more difficult for me than after a busy one. However, my focus is completely on the task and end result, and I rarely have fun or do anything creative. But my workaholic nature is actually a cover. If I look busy, then I must be of value. And I am appearing to get things done- like George on Seinfeld.
This revelation has led to find new solutions to my age-old mindset of I must do it all and do it perfectly. My biggest problem, in addition to exhaustion, is the loss of precious time. If I spend time cleaning, then I can’t have time to bike. If I spend time working in the yard all weekend, then I am too tired to barbecue and have a beer. My life/work balance goes askew. I have completion gratification, but absolutely no fun.
I rarely have lazy days which is a problem because relaxing opens a door to different and creative solutions. Plus, I need the rest. My to-do list of busy work to complete is the easy way out. It’s an avoidance tactic for my creative mind. This is deadly when it comes to writing.
Writing a new manuscript is infinitely more difficult and demanding than deleting emails or watching a video. Revising takes concentration and is harder than bookmarking research websites. I often choose something that looks productive but isn’t moving the needle on my writing.
I need to make wiser choices because there are only so many hours in a day. If I want my writing to improve then I have to stop taking the easy path and doing busy work. My time needs to be spent writing and submitting and researching and studying. I need to value the creative me enough to override my instinct to be busy. I need to pretend I have an entire summer stretching out before me, waiting for a great manuscript.