December 29, 2020
Note From Rochelle
I am off this week, but I’ll be back in the office on January 5.
Until then, check out my book Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. Just in time for your New Year dreaming, the ebook is on sale at Amazon for just $2.99.
Embrace Idle Time
by Rochelle Melander
Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring.
—Henri Frederic Amiel
Between family obligations and holiday celebrations, idle time may seem like a frivolous luxury–even in a pandemic. Trust me, it’s not.
Writers, we cannot produce work 24/7. We need to have both fallow and productive times in our writing lives. We understand what it means to produce work. As writers, we work hard to stay productive and get published. But what does it mean to engage in fallow time?
Farmers regularly let fields lie fallow. The old saying goes, “Farm the best. Conserve the rest.” Allowing a field to be fallow for a season or two prevents soil erosion, provides food for wild animals, and prepares the land for future plantings. Yet, when demand for food is high, farmers can be tempted to forgo the fallow field and farm all of their land.
As writers, we need fallow time, too. Sometimes when we think we are experiencing writer’s block, we are really tired. We need rest. We need time to step back from the relentless pressure of producing finished work. Time away from constant deadlines prevents us from producing work that is boring and predictable. It provides time to explore and nurture new ideas. The time away can also prepare us to launch a new project.
For many writers, fallow time just happens. We finish a big project or a series of small projects, and we stop writing for a time. Or, we hit the holiday season, and we do not have time to write. People and life demand our attention, and we give it. Soon, months have passed, and we have not written. But we also have not rested.
Our writing would be improved by introducing purposeful fallow time into our lives. We can practice fallow time for a day each week or a week each quarter. During our fallow time, we purposefully engage in activities that help us to recover from the relentless pressure of daily deadlines. We read, rest, and gather inspiration. We might walk or write in a journal. We might bake bread. We may even watch movies in the middle of the day. At the end of the time away from work, we feel rejuvenated and ready to write again.
Here are a few ways to enjoy fallow time:
The Reading Day
Reading offline will deepen your writing. Time away from your work and the computer will refresh you. New ideas will take root inside of you. When you return to your writing desk, your attention span might even be a smidgen longer! Now that’s something to celebrate!
The Music Break
When I was a teenager, I had a special ritual that accompanied the purchase of a new album. I would put the record on the turntable and listen while I read the liner notes. There’s nothing like listening to the creativity of others to restore your own creativity. Choose an album that you love and spend some time with it. Listen to the music, chew on the words, and let your spirit sing.
The Art Break
Get out your art and craft supplies and make something. Don’t worry about being fancy or professional—all you need for this activity is paper and crayons or colored pencils. Scribble and enjoy!
The Movie Marathon
Gather the snacks, make a nest for yourself on the sofa, and enjoy. (Good Housekeeping even put together a list of movies to watch on New Year’s Eve.)
With the pandemic, I have needed adventure more than ever. Because I cannot find that at plays, concerts, or by traveling, I’ve taken to hiking. When we can—and it’s usually just once a week—we try out a new trail or park in the area. It’s not like walking the streets of Paris or Disney World, but every single time I find one new thing to marvel at.
You have my permission to say no, stay in, and be idle. Resign from your job as Master of Holiday Happiness and rest. Turn off the computer and your cell phone and watch the lights. Drink a cup of tea. Spend oodles of time doing absolutely nothing. That’s my plan!