Copious amounts of "alone time"

bathroom reading This post is #28 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.

I spend at least twice as much time puttering as I do writing.

"Puttering," as I define it, equals any non-hurried doing of any non-mission-critical activity. Tearing out serious articles in magazines to send to friends is puttering; reading them is not. (Unless you are reading just a snatch of something while brushing your teeth.)

Inserting photos in frames is puttering. Dusting them can be, too, I suppose, but by the time I get to dusting, it's moved beyond mission-critical to "necessary for avoiding health setbacks."

Cooking a little, but even more, rooting through your supplies to see what might be made. Labeling your file folders or your electronic cables. Sifting through a jewelry drawer or a box of DVDs to see what might be dispensed with. All of these are wonderful ways to putter.

Puttering is a way to burn off anxiety, to refuel creatively while still being just the tiniest bit creative. It is helpful if movement is involved, rearranging things is a favorite puttering activity, but not strictly necessary. All that is truly necessary is to create the environment one wants (quiet, soft music, singalong music; fans, breezes, incense) and solitude. Puttering alongside of someone else is possible, but it takes a very special someone. Mostly, puttering needs to happen alone.

It took a long, long time for me to realize how much alone time I need, or perhaps to give in to it. Since I have, I mostly wonder whether it will always be like this, or whether those needs will change. Whether I could change them myself, by becoming more productive, perhaps, and more structured in my doings, or by adding in meditation or upping my more aggressive physical activity.

For now, though, puttering it is. And copious amounts of alone time in which to do it.

xxx c