What I Should Be Doing…

In the past, I’ve given myself permission to ease up on my writing goals when life gets in the way.  During times like this week, I wonder if I’ve become too permissive, like the parent that lets their kids go to bed while eating a Hershey’s bar.

The kids are spending some time with their Yaya (“Grandma” in Greek) so my husband and I have a few days alone.  My first thought was that I would get some character planning on my novel done.  I’ve had that on my ‘to do’ list for several weeks now, so the thought of moving to the next step excited me.

I didn’t take the computer on the trip to meet my mother-in-law on Friday night because the glow of the laptop screen distracts my husband when he drives.  I compromised, and read a book by pocket flashlight instead.  All the while, I kept thinking:  I should be working on my novel.

Grave Marker at Old Cemetery

On Saturday morning, we began a two-day camping trip in Cottonwood.  I didn’t take the computer, mainly because I’d have no way to charge it once the battery went dead.  The other reason is that I never would’ve heard the end of it from my husband.  I took paper and pen, but didn’t write a thing.  We walked on trails around the campground, and even happened upon a nearby old cemetery.  In the back of my mind, I thought:  I should be writing chapter one.

We cooked hot dogs over a camp fire at night and talked to some camping neighbors from Wisconsin.  My hubby and I talked about our plans for the next day, but something tugged at me; a little nag of guilt.  I should be writing something.  Anything.

Sunday morning, we drove through Sedona (stopping for a Starbucks coffee for hubby) and then to Oak Creek Canyon.  We checked out some camp sites so we can make some summer reservations and then drove to West Fork Oak Creek.  Neither one of us had been there before.  Since we didn’t have the kids, we opted for the four-mile round trip trail that was “moderate” difficulty.  I read the fine print and saw there were “stream crossings,” but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. 

Before hitting the trail, I noticed some wet and muddy people, so I changed into my hiking boots.  Good thing.

canyon walls surrounded us
Ridge of trees above us
Patches of snow remain along the path
Stone and Wood "Bridge"
Stepping Stones On Trail
Fallen tree almost looks like it has legs!

When we got to the last stream crossing, we observed that the rocks were completely submerged in water, so we’d either have to take our shoes off and cross bare foot, or get wet.  We met Nancy, a life coach from New York, while we leaned on a rock contemplating whether to push forward or go back.  We watched a couple attempt to cross and both slipped off the rocks into the stream.  We decided to go back.  We’ll go again over the summer and bring rubber-soled beach shoes.

Nancy was hiking alone, so she headed back with us.  We chatted the entire way back to the trailhead, where we took pictures of each other and exchanged email addresses.  I’m still in awe of her sense of adventure:  she had flown to Phoenix for business and made a last-minute decision to extend her stay in Arizona and drive up to Sedona.

During the hike, it didn’t cross my mind once that I should be writing instead of what I was doing at the moment.  Now, I realize that these two days sans computer and nary a written word were exactly what I should’ve been doing.  Live first, write later.  

View Between the Canyon & Sedona
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28 thoughts on “What I Should Be Doing…

  1. Jackie Paulson 1966 March 15, 2011 / 5:55 AM

    Live first, write later. I believe the fresh air and not crossing the water(only to fall) was a message to you.

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:37 PM

      I like the message, Jackie. However, it’s a struggle to not get frustrated at my lack of written words!

  2. suzicate March 15, 2011 / 7:07 AM

    Excelelnt motto: Live first, write later! Hiking does the same thing for me! LOVE LOVE LOVE your pics!

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:41 PM

      Thanks, Suzicate – I’m glad you like the pictures! I may have to adopt it as my official motto 😉

      It did feel great to get out and take in some new sights. We’re thinking of doing the Grand Canyon with the kids when they’re old enough. Those will be some great pics…

  3. Tori Nelson March 15, 2011 / 8:28 AM

    Words to LIVE by! Great post & Glad you got some quality time with the hubs 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:42 PM

      Thanks, Tori! I’m happy you enjoyed the post, and it was nice to have some time without the kids 🙂

  4. nrhatch March 15, 2011 / 9:07 AM

    Live first . . . write later! Words for the wise.

    Listen to the mustn’ts child. Listen to the don’ts.
    Listen to the shouldn’t haves, the impossibles, the won’ts.
    Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.
    Anything can happen child. Anything can be.
    ~ Shel Silverstein

    • Jackie Paulson 1966 March 15, 2011 / 2:51 PM

      Gina, I love Shel Silverstein

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:45 PM

      Love the Shel Silverstein quote, Nancy. I give up some time wasters to fit writing in, but I won’t skip the fun stuff 🙂

  5. Debbie March 15, 2011 / 12:02 PM

    You’ve got to have life experiences in order to have something to write about! At least, that’s what I tell my lazy self when I feel guilty over procrastinating, again. This time, sounds (and looks!) like you had a good outing and probably deserved a break!

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:46 PM

      I like that, Debbie – and I agree that life does fuel writing. We all deserve a break once in a while from writing. A guilt-free pass would be nice, though 😉

  6. clarbojahn March 15, 2011 / 1:48 PM

    I don’t know if I can go two days without at least writing in my journal. On the other hand I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that say you need two days sans computer every week. I am taking so many classes right now that my WIP is suffering. One class however is going to critique five pages each week. I better get a move on!

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:49 PM

      Journaling would be difficult to break from, Clar. I’ve never been one to journal because I never liked the idea of my inner thoughts being outside my head so that someone else could find them!

      You may not be writing as much while you’re taking classes, but the classes should benefit your writing. You’ll still come out ahead, the way I see it 🙂

  7. Nicole March 15, 2011 / 2:12 PM

    Looks beautiful. You’re right though, the computer will always be there when you get home. Enjoy the time with your husband.

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:50 PM

      You’re right, Nicole – the computer was still here when I got home (and it didn’t seem to mind the break.) Thanks for stopping by today!

  8. widdershins March 15, 2011 / 2:56 PM

    And you got such beautiful material to write about!

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:52 PM

      Thanks, widdershins! I took over fifty photos, so it was hard to narrow it down for this post.

  9. J. P. Cabit March 15, 2011 / 6:46 PM

    Bravo, awesome!!! 🙂 Without life, what would we write about? The trick is to let life take prevelance, but make sure writing is part of your life…

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:54 PM

      Balance is the difficult part for me, Seph. Writing will be at the forefront, until the neglected areas of my life scream for attention. Then, while I tend to the other areas of my life, my writing gathers dust. I’m trying to avoid the dust-gathering, but things are crazy right now 😉

  10. dorcas March 15, 2011 / 9:39 PM

    Yaaaaaaay Janna. happy that you had a day mentally free from writing. 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 9:55 PM

      Thanks, Dorcas. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing…so the break was a good one!

  11. Addy March 15, 2011 / 10:13 PM

    Awesome quote Janna!!! I couldn’t agree more… I log in to my computer thinking that I need to write be it my story or blog post, but I end up aimlessly surfing around the net and completely forget about why I logged in the first place!!!

    Best Wishes,
    Addy

    • jannatwrites March 15, 2011 / 10:47 PM

      Oh, I’ve done that too, Addy. Lately, reading has been another distraction. I read two books while I was without a computer.

      I noticed that you haven’t posted in a while. I hope you are able to beat the distractions long enough to do a post and work on your story 😉

      • Addy March 16, 2011 / 10:01 PM

        Hope to post soon… 🙂

        Thanks Janna,
        Addy

  12. Patty March 16, 2011 / 9:17 PM

    Love your pictures. I have also been away for 6 days and little access to a computer and blogging. I spent the time enjoying my daughter during her spring break and spending time in Wash DC learning about the professional issues of nursing and public policy. I brought up briefly that I am an amateur blogger and several other nurses in the conference were interested. I need to figure out where my heart lies with blogging.

    • jannatwrites March 19, 2011 / 10:43 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed time with your daughter over spring break. Washington DC sounds interesting, too.

      Good luck deciding where your blog fits in your life 🙂

  13. 36x37 March 17, 2011 / 4:24 PM

    Excellent post. I understand the pull you felt to write in your spare time, but sometimes those rare opportunities to decompress and live in the moment can make writing richer. You sound driven enough already, so give yourself permission to take time just for you and your hubs. 🙂 Glad you had a lovely trip.

    • jannatwrites March 19, 2011 / 10:49 PM

      Thanks, 36×37! It was a nice trip and I’ve kept the guilt of not writing to a minimum. I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

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