(I was tempted to steal blatantly from Douglas Adams and call this Post 4 of 3, but opted for another approach, but it does generally tie to the overarching health and wellness theme.)
Okay, writing is cerebral. Got that. Writing is esoteric. Yup. The body matters. Alright, alright, working on it…big check mark there. So, I tell myself I’m doing just fine.
Until I called my best friend—the one in the sling. She lives ninety miles away, and traffic in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Washington, D.C., is beyond horrible. We both have elementary-school age kids, and the resultant insane schedules of school, sports practices, games, special events, etc. I just started a new job and am trying to get published. She’s a freelancer and her husband just started a new job, and their schedule is new and shifting daily. We both have aging parents to deal with … … Okay, this paragraph could never end, but the outcome of all these perfectly legitimate excuses is: We haven’t seen each other in more than a year.
I was driving an hour back home from a trip to drop my daughter off with her best friend for a slumber party (that family just move nearly two hours away, so we met in the middle for a kid exchange). Since we hadn’t talked for any decent length of time in eons, it seemed like a great opportunity to check in via Bluetooth with my BFF. We talked about why I was on the road, and she said it was a great mom-thing to do. Loved the praise, but I said it wasn’t that bad, besides—the other mom and I had both thought it was important that the girls not lose touch. The conversation continued about how the two of us desperately missed each other, and were both totally frustrated that plans to get together never worked out, I was in the middle of saying, “Yes, but just happens. It’s not your fault, it’s not my fault, it’s just the way it is—we’re both swamped, and…”
…I’m swamped because I just carved out the time to drive two hours on two different days to ensure my daughter’s important childhood friendship stayed intact, but wasn’t carving the time out to make sure MY childhood friendship stayed intact.
Well, damn, I hate it when the Universe uses a two-by-four to make a point.
Later than evening, I took a quick survey:
- Haven’t seen my best friend in more than a year.
- Missed my first writers group meeting of the season because babysitting plans went awry.
- Skipped a recent planned lunch with my critique partner because I was still dealing with damage at my mother’s house after the big summer storm.
- My other good writing buddy has basically gone off the grid the last couple of months trying to finish her next book—emails have fallen to a ‘still alive, right?’ level.
- Because of the job change, didn’t get out west to see another good writing buddy I’ve met up with every winter for five years.
- Was just making friends with the mom of my daughter’s best friend when they moved.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These were all absolutely valid explanations for why stuff didn’t happen. Books have to get written. Fallen trees have to get moved. Stuff happens, and you have to roll with it. The problem starts forming when the path of least resistance keeps getting used.
Social is a four-letter word to the majority of writers. We’re introverts. We’re shy. We’re perfectly happy at home alone with our books. Unfortunately, that makes it really, really easy to fall into the trap of isolation. Writers need friends. Real, flesh-and-blood people, not just-updated-cartoon-avatars for the latest social media site. Time outside the home/writers cave. Adult time away from the kids.
Time for ourselves.
Julia Cameron talks in her book The Artist’s Way about writer’s dates—the importance of “recharging the well” to ensure you actually have something creative to draw on for your writing by taking time (at least an afternoon a week) to go somewhere, meet up with someone, do something away from the house and your project. It’s not rocket science—I know I feel better after I come home from one of my writer group meetings; from meeting up with a friend for lunch or dinner; or even just from an afternoon at the church’s international fall festival…
It is sooooo easy to forget, yet it is sooo important. Make the time—for yourself, for your friends, for your health.