I’m in the final throes of the semester this week, grading a stack of final papers and starting to return to thoughts of creative writing. I’ll be very excited to get to that time just a handful of days from now when all that is left is the quest to polish my novel (and possibly even send some new work out). In the meantime, I’m thinking about those times of our year when we do breathe a breath of fresh air — and how easily these times of relative freedom seem to slip by. Are there times in your busy schedule when you realize that you suddenly have more free time — and do you find yourself ultimately wasting that time?
I know I’ve done this in the past. It seems that when I have more free time, I simply stretch out my work to fill in the new hours; I veg more and work less. There’s a time and a place for a break and re-boot, for a little reward, a little television, a little socializing, but I think we also have to remember how precious this new time is. When I reach the end of the semester I’m always full of brave new plans; I’m full of exciting ideas. And by the end of that free time, I’m left with the cliche question, “Where did the time go?”
This time, though, I’m resolved to make the most of my newly opening days. I’ll be setting concrete goals, making lists, and using my days in structured ways to meet my creative goals. I’m even planning to go on a writing residency for the first time, and I’m wildly excited about that experience; I’ll discuss that in a future post. For now, try being a little grateful for your opening time — and don’t waste it in treating yourself. Use the time for what it is — a blessed chance to do the work that you care about.