Coach Marla Beck

Just 3% of Your Waking Hours

by Marla Beck

in brilliant creativity

In any given week, I spend a minimum of 3 to 5 hours focused and engaged in creative work.

(That’s 3% of my waking hours.  Not much time, right?  Never underestimate the power of a focused half-hour or hour of writing, though.  I get a lot done.  Even better, this modest investment yields so much good in my life.  Like my clients, I, too, have discovered that even this modest but consistent creative practice is a simple, nourishing antidote to stress, overwhelm and mindless distraction or striving.)

What makes creative time so powerful?

✓ When we write, we connect with the woman or man we truly are.

✓ When we create, we open ourselves up to experiences we so often lack in daily life:  spontaneity and wonder.

Sometimes too, we even encounter magic, in the form of “happy accidents. “

Let me share a story.

Last week, my husband and I accompanied our daughter’s class to see wild elephant seals and otters on the California coast.  The first day, we walked among the slick, massive bodies of somnambulant baby elephant seals, as our group trudged through hard rain and hail on a naturalist-guided beach tour.  The next day, we watched shore birds, harbor seals and otters by boat, as we toured a placid slough.  Throughout the trip, we ate well, and enjoyed a few stops along the coast to run the children around.  I loved watching them make sand dams and jump rope with the long, strong strand of seaweed they found.

On our drive home, we stopped at a lighthouse south of Pacifica. Alone with my camera, I began to compose (my typical) photographs of light and color, rhythm and stillness:

When I returned home, I scrolled through my images from the trip and discovered an unexpected image on my camera roll:


I’d made an accidental selfie.

The happiness I captured in the photograph was genuine.  (There’s nothing like a solitary overlook, perched above rough waves crashing against the rocks below to make me smile.)  The composition of this image is nothing I would have deliberately crafted – it’s just too unusual.

So what does all this have to do with your writing?

The more deliberate creative practice you engage in, the more likely you are to encounter an aesthetic, rhetorical or craft-related “accident” that delights you or startles you with its freshness.

Creative practice opens us up to experiencing life, portraying characters, developing ideas and uniting disparate ideas in brand new ways.  Consistent creative practice opens us up to discovering brand new creative gestures and antidotes to creative challenges.

Everywhere among us, there is an undercurrent of magic.  You deserve to experience this deliciousness often.

To access the magic of creativity, you don’t need countless hours to devote to your writing.

You just need a consistent writing habit.

You need to clear the runway, so your life, time, attitudes, writing habits and goals  support and enliven you.

And you need to keep your creative channel refreshed and clear and open, so the next time you craft a “happy accident,” you’ll be alert enough to recognize it (and grateful enough to treasure the experience).

If you have questions, reach out.  I will help you.

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