I took a seminar on Heidegger’s Being and Time, which was both maddening and very enjoyable. My little joke is that they got the title wrong--(spoiler alert!); it should read Being = Time (the sequel is, of course, Being on Time).
Thinking about the way time affects us (and the way our experience of time is shaped) has long been an obsession of mine. A famous story in my family is about me on my third birthday, when I cried at my cake with a “3” candle on it, saying “Where’d my ‘2’ go?!” And my parents told me, “It went inside of you.” Maybe all artists identify with this.
Recently, I was watching this TED talk by designer Stefan Sagmeister (he is a master of this form, truly). In this particular talk, he discusses the value of taking time off; every seven years, he takes one year off to pursue creative “experiments.”
It’s not a year in which he just hangs out, sleeps in, and eats cereal everyday. And he certainly doesn’t stop designing for himself. He discusses how he plans his time, travels with a purpose in mind, learns, and develops ideas based on what he sees around him.
Now, financially, very few of us would be able to do this, exactly. But I’m not interested in thinking about how much it cost for him to take this year (or how much he makes)--I’m interested in how he is making use of time.
Sagmeister notes that many of his designs were starting to look the same, to feel stale. As an artist who writes at least 5 times a week, I very much relate to what he is saying.
In the video, Sagmeister says that for the seven years following his sabbatical year, almost every new idea came from that sabbatical. This is fascinating. I’m thinking about how I might make use of this idea. I know it would be useful, as a writer....it’s not that I wouldn’t write during this time, but I wouldn’t be drafting one poem each day and sharing them the way that I am now. Even the two-day break of the weekend (I don’t post poems on the weekend) makes me excited to start writing again to begin my week.
Thinking about how I use my time is a large part of my process. I usually spend 45-90 minutes on each poem/post. That’s about 6 hours or so a week. But I also spend time revising, making manuscripts and chapbooks, sending out submissions, looking at art, reading books, and commenting on other writers’ blogs.
I do very well in the day-to-day making process, but I’m starting to crave bigger thinking and larger projects. I want to experiment with the amount of time I use to write a poem, and see what happens.
Your turn: How does time factor into your process? Would a sabbatical be useful to you? How might you adapt this concept for your own work?