Time-outs for Solitude and Surprise

October 2002

Recently, a close friend of mine in California asked me to join her in working through The Artist’s Way at Work. This book, which is framed more for business people than the original work, is subtitled “Twelve Weeks to Creative Freedom.” It is a months-long journey that promises to be an adventure; I’m already challenged by the assignments to expose and challenge that inner voice which insists I’m not at all creative. 

One of the cornerstones of the book thus far is the concept of a “time-out”, which is a one or two hour period each week where one takes the time and energy to do something “festive and fun.” These time-outs are intended to fill the creative well; they allow us to relax after working hard, while ideas foment and our unconscious wrestles with problems. Did I mention that time-outs are done by yourself? The challenge is to get out and try something new, to explore, to awaken your sense of wonder. Alone. 

Virginia Woolf once said “In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us.” I am realizing these past few weeks that, although I am alone for much of the day, I do not carve out periods of solitude where I am focused on those finely-wrought details of life around me. A renewed commitment to writing morning pages (another tool from The Artist’s Way at Work) has provided a place to record my observations, musings, and questions. I confess that just writing down ideas for some possible time-outs took a lot of time and effort (making me acutely aware of how much my love of fun can be shoved aside for more “important” activities). 

So, my intention is to plan and take a weekly time-out, to invite and accept the element of surprise. I also want to encourage my own ability to take risks, to increase my sense of spontaneity and play. This year has been one of tremendous change and challenge for me, and now I feel strong and healthy and ready to take my work to a new level. I’m convinced that as I expand my work, both my clients and I will benefit from me also expanding my sense of wonder and awe through times of solitude, regular writing, and creative play. 

Have a wonderful month!

Sharon Keys Seal

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