Time vs. Energy
Many people who make excuses as to why they aren’t doing a particular thing (like working on their novels) blame the belief that they don’t haveenough time. In some cases, time is an issue but people don’t often think abouthow their energy affects their productivity.
Last year, I read a book called The Power of Full Engagement that argued time management was actually more or less bunk compared to the necessity of energy management. The authors, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, originally tested their theories out on professional athletes, before realizing that athletes only performed a few hours a week at high intensity, as opposed to people in the working world who endure 50 or more hours of work every single week. The authors say that improving your stores of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy can make more of a difference than some new-fangled method of managing the hours in the day.
The name of the game here is balance and if you’ve had trouble fitting your writing or any other creative task in, this is naturally a good direction in which to go. If you are burning the midnight oil with caffeine and long workdays, your physical energy stores are going to be low. You can up that energy with proper nutrition in your diet, exercise, and a legitimate amount of sleep. If you find yourself snapping at your loved ones and co-workers, you may need an emotional energy boost. Trying emotional control techniques like the Sedona method or Esther and Jerry Hick’s “Rampage of Appreciation” (or just plain taking some time to chill out each day) can improve emotional energy. Low mental energy means you have trouble focusing and a bad attitude. Taking up relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, or painting can heighten this focusand mental energy. If you find yourself not working as hard or not workingtowards something, you are lacking spiritual energy. Set up some purposeful goals for yourself to up the spiritual ante.
Personally, I had issues with all four of these areas before I settled down into a writing lifestyle. This isn’t a big surprise, since the four areas tend to overlap. The first step for me was giving up caffeine in all its forms, coffee, soda, etc. Through meditation, the Sedona method and goal-setting, I was able to up my levels in the other energy areas as well.
We get so caught up in life sometimes that we forget about living. Byadding more balance to my existence I’ve been able to express myselfcreatively, spend more time with my loved ones, and remember the most important aspects of living. I talk a lot about this balance in my books Writer on the Side and Sharpening the Pencil and how it pertains directly to writing (though I still recommend FullEngagement as well). While I’m sure that there are several successful writers who are raging alcoholics or who are completely unhappy, I would bet that most of them have found a personal and professional equilibrium that allows them to constantly tap into their originality.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter,strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book TheWriting Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative WritingPrompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade,Sharpening the Pencil:Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, andWriter on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (CovenantCoffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas