This semester's schedule is jam-packed for me, with four classes to teach, a long commute, and plenty of papers to grade. I'm doing my best to keep all these things in perspective, and to remember that my novel is the most important goal, the finish line nearing on the horizon. That's right; I'm getting close enough to the final chapters of the first draft that I can almost see the end. So when I found myself with an unexpectedly free weekend, I knew I had to take advantage of it. I spent an hour or two writing each day this weekend, and it allowed me to get some important work done.
Save a weekend for work
Many of us don't want to take the experience of work home with us. We work hard at less-than-inspiring jobs and when we get home, we want to shift into indulgence mode. But there's something to be said for devoting some of your vacation hours to tough, rewarding work. It allows you to get ahead instead of feeling like you're always scrabbling just to keep up; it allows you to devote some peaceful time to the cultivation of your own thoughts; it allows you to re-evaluate what you want in your work and in your life, and what's still missing.
If you find yourself with a free Saturday afternoon, try setting a creative goal for yourself and devoting yourself to it. Get comfortable, sit in your favorite chair, play your favorite music, and have an open notebook in your lap. Don't let yourself leave the spot until you've written two pages or edited five. Look out a window. Think hard. Self-reflect. Discover what goals you want to achieve, or what you're currently not happy with. Life can easily whoosh by you if you don't pause to consider it.
What weekend work can do for your writing.
All that self-reflection is no doubt good for your outlook on life. But here, we are focused on the creative life, and weekend work can really jump-start your creativity. Instead of dragging a page or two out of yourself when you're crunched for time in the week, you can try pushing yourself through the pain, finding that place in your writing where imagination takes hold. You'll be able to feel excited again about your writing. This week, instead of writing something I hated, I found myself writing with real excitement. My hand wasn't able to keep up with my ideas and kept cramping up. And I didn't reach that magical period until I had slogged it out for a page or two. That development from labor to joy is a crucial part of the writing process, and if we don't give ourselves the time and the freedom to find it, it will never arrive.