Multipassionate

Wow—has it really been nine months since I’ve last posted here? Well thank you all for hanging in there. I can’t say that I’ll return to a regular posting schedule but I’ll definitely try to keep the gap between posts much smaller next time.

In the last line of the last post I wrote, I joked about going to get school supplies instead of writing supplies. The joke was on me because this past January, I actually started classes again. I’ll admit that the idea was on my mind last August, but I ended up being surprised at the direction I’m taking: it’s not related to writing. I was sure I was headed back for an MFA in writing; had even narrowed down my top school choices, including one that a few friends attend and readily endorse. And yet… And yet I felt pulled in another direction.

It worried me. And why shouldn’t it? It seemed that I was walking away from my chosen path. Again. And this time, I was walking away from the writing identity that was the way I’d been defining myself to everyone (including myself) for the past few years. Even if I was going back to a path I thought I’d left behind for good, I was still abandoning my writing. But was I…

As I near 40, I finally have enough years behind me that I can look back and realize that I’m actually not leaving my passions behind when I switch from one to another; that I rotate through them. Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams, calls people with multiple passions, “scanners.” She says these people can’t pick just one thing. (Yes!) That they find too much to get excited about in life; too much to delve into and explore. (Yes, yes, and yes!) More specifically, she breaks down scanners into different subcategories.

If I remember the definitions right (I have the book somewhere, but after I moved, books just got thrown on shelves with only a passing attempt at categorization), I’m both a sequential scanner and a cyclical scanner. That is, I have interests that I dive into, full of a nearly all-consuming passion—until I’ve lost interest, and then I’m DONE. Just done. I sell or give away the books and supplies and I rarely look back.

But then there are those other passions I cycle through; the ones I always come back to, months or years later. My lifelong passions. Writing is one of those. It’s always been with me, whether it was hovering in the background or taking center stage, it was always there. Right now, it’s in the background and will continue there while I continue with classes. Then—scary thought—then I might give classes a break while I dive back into my writing. Or maybe I’ll find the next big passion to explore or maybe… Deep breath. As I said, scary thoughts.

I started journaling again a few weeks ago. Even if it’s only to vent out the small stuff to clear my head and emotions, it’s got my pen moving again. (I never could stick with Julia Cameron’s three Morning Pages, but I still think it’s a fantastic practice.) Then, when I’m in the right place, I’ll polish up one of my manuscripts and get it out of the house. For now though, journaling is my writing and that’s more than enough.

If, like me, you have multiple passions, if you don’t have just one driving life goal, check out Barbara Sher’s book. You can listen to her talking about scanners here on YouTube too.

Also check out Margaret Lobenstine’s book The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide. She refers to people with multiple interests as “Renaissance Souls”, a label I’m quite content with. After starting her book and starting to realize that it really was okay for me to have multiple passions, I scheduled a coaching call with her. She was a lovely, warm woman whose adroit questioning and clever ideas helped me to see how best to balance my passions so I saw progress and didn’t feel so overwhelmed. I just looked up her site and saw that sadly, she passed away in her sleep a little more than a week before my last post. After reading her obituary, I wish I could have heard more about her “Renaissance Soul” life directly from her. RIP, Margaret.

Alright that’s all for tonight. Thanks again for sticking around. Would love to hear your thoughts on this if being multipassionate (or a Renaissance Soul) is something you resonate with.

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Summer Laziness

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Every time I meet up with other writers, invariably, the conversation turns to: “So how’s the writing going?” I’ll tell you: for some, it’s going fantastic. Others have had to take a break while the kids are out of school, to deal with moving, and other life-stuff. And still there are others who just aren’t writing, just because it’s summer and they can’t get their head to focus where they need, so they’re waiting for autumn to hibernate and start up again.

There seems to be something to this.

Today I stumbled on a New Yorker article from 2013 called, Why Summer Makes Us Lazy. In it, the author, Maria Konnikova, writes, “[…] recent research suggests that […] summer really does tend to be a time of reduced productivity. Our brains do, figuratively, wilt.” She goes on to cite research conducted by Gerald Clore, demonstrating that in the warm, sunny months, our brains tend to “[rely] heavily on mental shortcuts at the expense of actual analysis.”

Hmm… Jump from critical thinking to creativity and you can see why some creative folks would find it harder to produce in the summer months, than in the colder, cozier ones. (Also: writing in front of a fire? Perfection! Never mind that I don’t have a fireplace; candles will do, thank you very much.)

Further, “Summer weather—especially the muggy kind—may also reduce both our attention and our energy levels. In one study, high humidity lowered concentration and increased sleepiness among participants.”

To those of us who have claimed for years that it’s too hard to think when it’s hot and muggy: we were RIGHT! Ha.

*coughs* Anyway…

After an unusually hot summer in most areas of the country, I know more than a few people are looking forward to a (hopefully) gentle autumn, pumpkin-flavored or not. Now we have another reason to look forward to it: a return to clear thinking, and flourishing creativity.

Time to go buy some new school—I mean, writing supplies!

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