Taking Your Own Time With Writing

view out the window to ocean and trees
Nadia Colburn // July 21, 2022 // 0 Comments

Summer is a time of slowing down for me. But I wanted to reflect a bit on what this time away is reminding me. 

One of the things I sometimes struggle with—and I've seen my students struggle with again and again—is how to stay focused on writing projects amid everything else that's going on.

I was thinking about this when I walked down to the water this morning. First, I saw a whole school of fish disrupting the surface of the water, moving together as if a whole city were just beneath the surface. And then an eagle, just ten feet away from me, came flapping, with its huge, swooping dark wings out over the cove and snapped up one of the fish.

We are always surrounded by abundance, in a variety of forms.

Seeing the school of fish or the eagle, though, I didn't have any judgment and they didn't distract me from my own purpose. Instead, I remembered the ways in which each of us has our own journey and timetable.

In a primarily human world, it's easy to feel lost and to either have aversion to what we see or to fall into competitive comparison. In a primarily human world, also, there is so much less space for our own natural rhythms; our devices need never turn off—our screens with the endless stream of news, work, entertainment; the refrigerator with its foods always in season from somewhere around the world; the lights, blocking the natural rhythm of the moon and stars. We can start to feel that we're not supposed to turn off. But here, I see the blueberries that will only be ripe for a few weeks this summer, slowly, day by day, become more blue, and I remember everything has its own timing.

As writers (as people!), it's so important to remember we're not machines. We can stay rooted in our own experiences and take the time we need—including time off. Whatever we are working on—a memoir, a poem, an essay, a business project, a social justice movement, a relationship—we can engage through our physical bodies, honor our own seasons and rhythms, and stay focused on our own next step.

When I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself to "reconnect to the body's path," a mantra I'm repeating to myself here on vacation so I can take this feeling of alignment home with me.

Here is one of my poems published this year in The Curator. This is a poem about the ways we encounter ourselves and others, and about the human and non-human worlds. It takes place in the city, but it could take place anywhere:

Today Like Yesterday (by Nadia Colburn)

and the day before: it’s happening.
It’s so simple, I hardly need any language.

Right there, through the window.
And in the trees, hardly visible, the birds

are back and going about their own business.
Do they remember their long journey?

The tall buildings, the wires?
Are they singing for the ones who are absent?

Are they, like me, singing to welcome in the dawn?
While everyone else in my family is sleeping,

the city is taken over by their song.
And everything, bathed in the silver light of morning,

is part of another story and its own.

I'm so honored to get to connect with you. Thank you for reading. As always, share this with anyone who might enjoy it

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