If there’s one phrase that I really can’t stand it’s ‘me time’. Along with ‘date night’ and the term ‘mojo’, hearing someone lament that what they really need is some ‘me time’ gives me the shivers.
It’s not that I’m against taking time out from routine – quite the opposite. I love nothing more than being on my own or doing something relaxing like walking the dog, reading the paper, going to a café, etc. But the idea of scheduling this sort of thing seems like a contradiction. Making time in your diary to do nothing… What’s up with that?
It’s also the term itself. I love words and well-put-together phrases but this one… Yuck. It seems to me that it has more than a whiff of self-absorption about it.
When I started writing the first Finn McMartin story earlier this year I had a timeline in my head of deliverables. No self-indulgent mornings or afternoons swanning about for me! To keep productivity up I thought I’d do 1,500 words a day, have the first draft done in a month, then re-drafting and editing another month.
While some days the words rush out with the force of a projectile vomit, other days it’s a struggle to string a sentence together. And it’s then that I find myself having guilty snatches of ‘me time’ all over the place. Early on the café around the corner was my go-to place when it was just too hard to come up with something decent to write. I usually came back feeling guilty for wasting an hour and still had nothing to add to a chapter or scene. I started to notice that if I took the dog for a walk instead, or even went outside to hang the washing, by the time I was back in front of the screen I actually had something to write.
Apparently this is pretty common. According to a study by Stanford University, low level physical activity like walking leads to more creative thought and generates new ideas. And here I was thinking that I was just procrastinating.
Writing, and other things that require a bit of imagination or creativity, need some room to happen. Everyone works differently and I’m a bit in awe of people who can write an entire novel in between full-time work and family. I couldn’t do it. Apparently what I really need is quite a bit of me, sorry, walking time.