For a long time, I resisted carrying any sort of bag (purse, what have you). This meant my pockets had to do a lot of work. One of the responsibilities my pockets bore was carrying a small notebook and pen at all times. It was a new year’s resolution I made one year, and it sure as sugar stuck, for years.
I was always comforted by the familiar weight of the notebook in my back right pocket, knowing that any idea that came to mind could be captured to paper. Sometimes, it was a turn of phrase or a reminder to complete a task. Other times, it was an outline for an essay or a fully formed poem. The few times I lost a notebook, it was as if I’d lost my wallet — my very identity having slid out of my pocket, left on a bus seat or sidewalk.
Perhaps a few years later, I realized that I was failing to carve out time for one of my most vital activities: writing. So I established another new year’s resolution to change my weekday schedule. I began waking up at 6 every morning (being a morning person, this didn’t take too much to get used to), taking 30 minutes for breakfast and internet browsing. Then, starting at 6:30, I had a whole hour to focus.
Most mornings, that meant writing - whether it was a freelance article, a blog post, a poem, or something else entirely. Never work writing - just my own. One morning was typically reserved for a three-mile run. Then at 7:30, I showered and got ready for work, out the door by 8. I got so much writing done in that morning hour, writing that never would have come to life in my tired, distracted, or socially engaged evening state. This is a common strategy for a writer trying to find more hours in a day, but it was a transformative change of habit for me.
The most worthwhile acts of discipline in my life have been built around the curves, lines and marks of the written word. There’s been no way around it. I've learned that just because something is important to me doesn’t mean it’s easy to find the time or space for it in my life. I’ve needed to put in the work to give myself those opportunities. Because those opportunities make my life more meaningful.
So here we are, my last Pastry Box column. It’s been an incredible honor — and an incredible challenge -- to write for this space every month. In a way, it’s been a notebook in my back pocket, and it’s been an hour in the early morning. It’s been a necessary discipline. And like discipline often does, it’s afforded me a tremendous freedom.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that as this column concludes, we are looking at the start of another new year. Maybe it’s time for a new resolution.