Four horsemen

Too much time on my hands. Not enough deadlines. No vision. Worries.

These are the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

“Too much time on my hands” is a tricky fellow. He appears at first to be a blessing. I think, “Now I will have time to finish that novel.” But no, it does not work that way. With all the time in the world I wind up not using any of it for anything of importance. Since I am a stay-at-home parent for this year, I could easily fall into this trap if I let myself. In order to combat “Too much time on hands,” I schedule each day with specific and accomplishable tasks so that writing time is a reward I grant myself after the chores are done.

Not enough deadlines. This is not a problem now that I am writing every Wednesday for the Confabulator Cafe. I thrive on deadlines and my best work has been on self-imposed deadlines I took on in order to enter contests. That is how I combat this second horseman, by looking up writing contests where the deadlines are fast approaching then writing something specifically to be entered in that contest.

No vision. This is the most ephemeral of the horsemen. It clouds my mind and makes me think things that aren’t true like “I don’t have anything important to say” or “All I know is what I DON’T want to do.” In order to counteract this horseman, I return to the basics. I ask myself “What do I enjoy?” and “What makes me happy?” Another phrase which works wonders is “What types of things do I like to read?” I make small projects that are just for me. The smaller the better. Specific and easy to maintain are also desirable qualities for these teeny tiny visioneering devices. Almost always they grow until they are large enough to show others, and I can’t even remember what my problem was when I had no vision.

Worries. Stress is such a foe. It seems to suck the will to be creative out of a person. Stress leans over off his horse and says “Why bother with writing, you and I both know there’s no point. You’re just fooling yourself with these distractions.” It’s really insidious, because there are concerns that we have to be concerned with. But do they really need to take up every single waking (and dreaming) minute of our days (and nights)? There is always going to be stuff to wring one’s hands over. I can’t very well tell people to try to forget that they are going through medical stuff or that their financial situation is perilous. That is the sort of reality that hits one in the face like a frying pan. Someday I will learn how to be at one with the universe and not worry at all. In the meantime I am going to take walks, drink lots of water, empty my mind of thoughts, and minimize the things in my surroundings that give rise to the voice of that horseman of worries.

Muriel is the creator of 'Documinutes: 60 second documentaries' and a contributor to the podcast 'This Manic Mama.'

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