Enjoy the quiet moments when you can.
“I said to myself, ‘This is my job now, I’m a writer, and that means I have to write regularly and not just when I feel like it, and I have to come up with projects.'”
– Emmanuel Carrère
In these weeks of adjusting to a new schedule and new expectations, it can feel a bit as if the world is spinning all around me. So much change happening all at once, even if it’s good change. So, on the days that I have felt overwhelmed or uncertain, I’m hanging on to words of wisdom and encouragement that I’ve received from colleagues and friends along the way.
This summer when I was in New York, I was able to meet with an editor from Dwell Magazine. We had a lovely chat over coffee, and one statement she made really stuck out: “If you aren’t writing all the time, it becomes this sort of precious activity. If you’re going to do journalism, you have to be able to push out articles quickly, and do it well.”
This goes with Carrère’s statement, that I must write regularly, even when I don’t feel like it. In that realm, I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance, and what that looks like when I’m doing freelance work — when any old room is my office and any hour in the day could be work-time. How do you balance pushing out work to become a better, more efficient writer, with still living beyond work?
When I was in college, and taking on way more that I could possibly handle (as I am apt to do), a friend sent me an encouraging note, simply saying, “Enjoy the quiet moments when you can.” That statement was so unassuming, but it took me aback. It’s stuck with me, as it wasn’t something I took the time to do back then, and it’s something I come back to, remind myself regularly.
These two bits of advice are quite different, but something about them strikes the same chord in my heart. I think it comes back to the idea of balance. It’s an allowing of myself to work hard at my craft, to make sacrifices for what I love, to become extraordinary. And yet, it’s allowing myself moments to pause, to take a breath, to celebrate little achievements and make an ordinary day special. It’s a pouring out and a filling up, things rooted in the same place — a place of love, of passion, of necessity.
And I think that’s a bit of consistency to hold onto in a time of changing. There will always be a tendency for me to take on too much, and balance is required; there has to be a give and take. And it’s good. It’s good for each of us to take the time to figure out what that looks like in our own lives. It’s good to be bold and brave and forge down new paths, but it’s also good to pause, take in our surroundings, and find beauty in small, quiet moments.
I’m excited for this new season. Finally, it feels as if big things are happening, as if the horizon is opening up. And it will take a great deal of self-discipline, of long hours and tight deadlines, of coming up with projects and writing even when I don’t feel like it. But it’s so worth it, because I love it. Love, love, love it.
(I honestly have no idea where I got this photo. I’ve had it saved on my computer for years. I’m sure it’s from a blog, but I couldn’t tell you which one. Sorry Internet.)