Why The 8 Hour Work Day Does Not Apply To Writing

Oct 03, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

I went to the redwoods last week to take a deep creative inhale.

Have you ever done this?

Here's how it works:

In the middle of a creative process, when you've been writing and putting a lot of yourself onto the page, you stop what you're doing, go outside, and purposefully take in the world around you. You Inhale.

I walked around the redwood trail, letting my thoughts flow freely, instead of focusing on sentences and words.

I said hi to the trees. I drank a cup of hot cacao. I breathed. I let my mind and my heart stretch out.

 

Writing is a focused endeavor, where I put what is within me into the world, ie. I creatively exhale.

I can only write for so long, an hour tops, because after that my writing can feel like I'm trying to exhale twice in a row without inhaling.

It can feel forced and stagnant.

This is when I walk away from my project. I putter around the house or go for a walk. I open my focus.

When I return to my writing, everything flows with ease again.

 

I learned about the concept of creativity as breathing originally from Matthew Inman, who created this amazing comic for The Oatmeal about creativity.

So much of my creative journey has been about unlearning traditional models of productivity.

When I left my office job and began a creative career, I was convinced I had to sit at my desk for 8 hours everyday. That's what work is right? 8 hours of focus.

What I found, however, was that this was impossible when it came to my creativity.

Unlike traditional models of productivity, like the 5 day work week, my creativity has never fit into a schedule, no matter how hard I try to force it to.

It has its own rhythm and flow. It takes it's own time.

What I've learned over the past few years is the part of my process where I'm wandering and pondering IS writing, just as much as the part of my process where I'm sitting at a desk.

 

It is the part of writing that happens when I let my mind flow freely and give my subconscious a chance to mull things over.

This is an incredibly important part of my writing life now.

The truth is, my creativity flows best through ease. So my job now is to create as much ease in my life as possible.

This is completely different than a focused 8 hour work week, where working was all about forcing myself to do more, more quickly.

Allowing myself to value creative inhales has changed my writing life from one of fear, pain, and force to one of peace, ease, and flow.

 

Here's my question for you today:

What do you think your writing life should look like? Is writing scary and painful for you because you think it has to look like you sitting at a desk for 8 hours, like a traditional work day?

If this is the case, take a breath right now. Inhale and exhale. Then try to exhale again without inhaling and see how it feels.

It might be possible, but it's probably a little scary, painful, and forced, with just a tiny bit of air coming out.

Now inhale and exhale again and feel how easy that exhale flows after you inhale.

I hearby give you permission to take a big, deep creative inhale today, and to invite peace and ease into your writing life.

Love,

Emma


P.S. I've created a new thing for you! Write In Peace is a 2 hour self-guided writing retreat that leads you through a process of Writing Inhales and Writing Exhales. Writing doesn't have to be so scary or painful, and this retreat guide will show you exactly how. LEARN MORE

 

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