Tag Archives: thinking

The “Art” of Multi – Tasking: We Can’t Even

Talk and drive, walk and chew gum, or carry on two conversations at once – we are familiar with the idea that while we can participate in two things at once, we suffer from the inability to do both of them well since our brains aren’t wired to multi-task.

These examples deal with superficial activities that we participate in every day, however, I challenge us to look at the idea of multi-tasking at a deeper level, at the level of creativity.

Take this real-life example:  as a writer, I am grateful to not be “working” at the moment and the difference in creative production compared to when I was working is tangible.   BUT there are bills to pay, student loans primarily, so my leisurely days of writing are now interrupted with tweaking resumes and scouring craigslist.  As I’ve focused on job hunting these past few weeks, I’ve definitely noticed my creative outlet is stifled. I can’t apply my emotional energy and investments into writing when I necessarily must funnel those elements into resumes and interviews.   We can only do one thing at a time.

My second son recently graduated high school.  He barely made the grades to do so, but I didn’t push him too much about tunagradmeit.   He is a highly creative individual, and although he wasn’t reading class assigned prose, he was (still is) reading Thich Nhat Hahn and Eckhart Tolle.  He didn’t participate in prom and loathed school assemblies, he sought instead a form of spirituality through the third eye and wrote rap lyrics about a higher calling in life.  His energy and time were vested in creativity, school took a secondary seat and this mother was unwilling to bridle his ventures into the mysterious for the sake of a four-point-oh.  We can only do one thing at a time.

Think about it in terms of living with an addict, of any kind.   I lived with an alcoholic for several months and I’ll never forget that my energy and creative flow were robbed in order to deal with the addiction and its fallout.   Writing came to a near stop and the ideas kept their distance, knowing they would be thrown away in the face of having to survive the consequences of walking on egg shells.  We can only do one thing at a time.

If you’re frustrated in your writing.  If you’re anxious over the slow pace of your manuscript.  Give yourself a break and examine your life at the moment:  is there something else taking up your emotional energy and drying up the creative outlet as a result?   Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Acknowledge that we aren’t able to multi-task at the emotional level where writing is grounded if our attention is called to other places. And then, be mindful.  Stay open to the creative tap so that when those creative moments do come up (they can’t help themselves, can they?  it is a curse we live with as writers) at least get them down in shorthand form on your iPhone note app so that you have the thing for later. Keep track of your progress, it will help you find the time.   My personal ‘game’ is to keep a running total of the number of words I write each day.   Some days my goal consists of a mere five hundred new words added to a working script, some days I can afford to increase the goal to two thousand.  The idea is to keep the work cooking and maintain the creativity spout on at least a drip output level.   Some is always better than none.

A writer’s life is not an easy road.  Creativity takes time, investment and an unoccupied mind, yet a thousand other details compete for our attention.   May we find a balance between the two and may we give ourselves a generous amount of grace in the process:  We can only do one thing at a time.

Write on, kids.


I find I have many bibles….

…you know, books that I turn to on a regular basis for nurturing to my soul.   As Christopher Hitchens writes “literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and the soul.”

Some of them I read on a regular basis:  Ishmael (Daniel Quinn) and The Red Tent (Anita Diamant ) for instance.  They are quick reads, yet their deeper truths never fail to resonate within my soul, and provide something for my mind to wrestle with.

Other works I take in a bit at a time, “The Portable  Jung” for example, or Nietzsche’s “The Genealogy of Morals”.  These give me an academic perspective and helps me to maintain a bit of objectivity about our humanity.

Then there are a few that I turn to every day almost, Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” for instance, HDT’s ‘Walden”, and of course a certain hero of mine, Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Each of these keep me grounded, focused on the higher purpose of contributing to my fellow humans and effecting change in this world.

We are fortunate indeed, in this day and age, to have access to a wide variety of literature available to us, enriching our lives, pointing us to higher purposes, and challenging us to think and grow.

What sorts of works do you turn to?  Which books are your bibles?

Be Well,



Onward and Upward

this is what my computer sees every day…..me pondering over the next word or sentence or paragraph….me writing

which i’ve been doing a lot of this past week since i am getting together a pair of articles to send in to the Atlantic magazine (their rules are fairly strict – anything sent to them can’t have been published elsewhere, even on a personal blog…sorry kids, you’ll hafta wait!).

meanwhile, work continues on my book cover (big THANKS to aaron) and once its done i can publish ‘Maslow’s Triangle: Short Tales of a Homeless Chick’…shooting for a mid-may release as an e-book.   it’s an extremely gratifying feeling to be so close to publication.  besides, getting the book off of my ‘to do’ list will allow me to put another one on it…

getting one idea out and working on another reminds me of an interesting observation i made a while back with regards to essays and short stories.   i noticed that if i don’t ‘get them out’, that is if i don’t get them down on paper (er, in word document)  then i suffer from a sort of ‘writer’s constipation.’  in other words, if i don’t sit down and purge my mind of whatever new thought or story comes up then i am ‘stuck’ until i get them out.  it’s as if there is no room for fresh impressions to land in the landscape of my consciousness until i’ve made room by launching my latest endeavors into cyber-space.  as i constantly remind one of my sons “creativity begets creativity.”

on another note, i’ve been receiving the best of comments on my musings in various forms of  ‘you made me think.’ if i live to be a hundred, i don’t know that i’ll tire of hearing that phrase.  when i made the decision to devote my life to writing, THE MAIN GOAL in mind was that i challenge us to think.  to me its not important that readers end up on the same side of whatever issue i present, but that they are compelled to at least consider the issue in the first place.  from my own experiences, the ability to ponder an idea – even if it was an antithesis of what i currently believed – always made me better in the end.  it’s a sort of iron-sharpens-iron effect.  whether or not i came out agreeing with a notion or theory didn’t really matter because in the end my mind was better off just for the mere exercise of challenging it in the first place.  either i was improved by adjusting my thinking because the new idea was logical and sound compared to the old idea i harbored; OR i was improved because i weighed both new and old and found that what i did think was correct after all, and, well, what better reinforcement than to examine your thoughts and have them prove correct.  either way, just THINKING about the issue made me a better person, which is why it’s vitally important to me that whatever i write presents a challenge to us.  we are all better for it.

so thanks to each of you for the time you take to read and think.  onward and upwards for us all.

be well!