The Busy Trap

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Do you know the Busiest Person Ever? Take a look in your circles and I’ll bet you can name the BPE, the friend who lists on social media all the things that he or she has to do (or worse, has already done)…the mom whose kids are involved in a gazillion different activities and she’s so busy, carting them hither and yon…or the co-worker who complains constantly about everything that has to be done but insists on doing it all, without any help.

Yep, the Busiest Person Ever is everywhere—even in writers’ circles. And though we may find the BPE annoying, there’s a secret (or not so secret) part of us that wishes we could accomplish as much as that busy writer. I mean, the busiest writer ever is so productive, right?

Um…maybe not so right. Because productive implies that what’s accomplished has a positive impact, that the work is producing great results. But sometimes, being super busy isn’t producing anything of much importance. In fact, sometimes, and ironically, busy work can grind a writing career to a halt.

Take, for example, the busy social butterfly. This is the writer who spends hours on social media, promoting a book or engaging in witty writer banter, maybe sharing cute pics with clever hashtags. And that’s not a bad thing, promotion. Unless a writer is so busy promoting that he or she doesn’t…well, write more than a tweet.

And speaking of writing few words, I might as well admit that I’m guilty of hopping on the busy train, telling myself that this development project or that organizational chart is important and I’m ever so busy, working on all this fun and/or exciting stuff! But you can probably guess the truth: I’m just busy not writing.

Ugh. It’s so easy to get stuck in the busy trap. We’re working hard, after all, on all kinds of writing-related stuff. We’re accomplishing a lot, but often, we’re just treading water rather than moving forward in our writing goals.

So how to get out of the busy trap? For me, it starts with realizing that I am, in fact, avoiding writing by filling my hours with busyness. And honestly, it’s not that easy figuring all that out because busy can look so darn productive and make one feel so giddily accomplished! But if you find that the busy days are piling up and the writing is not, then you, like me, may be stuck in the busy trap.

Now it’s time to do something by possibly doing nothing. Give yourself a mini-retreat, maybe a long walk or an afternoon relaxing with a cool drink and a book. Turn off the noise and listen for the answers you’ve been too busy to hear.

What’s keeping you from writing? Business burnout? Writer’s block? Creative juices gone dry?

Maybe a mini-retreat isn’t long enough to renew and refresh; maybe you need a major break, a couple weeks away from the hustle and bustle of your writing busyness. Take the time you need to find the why and the way back will follow. And then you can become the Busiest Writer Ever—and I mean that in the best way possible!

~ Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--You know who the BPE is in my writing critique group, right? Linda. However, she manages to do the social media stuff (blogs, Facebook and I don't know what else) AND she submits at a frenetic rate. The other day she said finding markets is so hard, but she finds markets and gets published because she doesn't give up, and she doesn't stop. (She even has time to send along links and articles of publishers that will help her writing friends.)

Good luck being productive in your busyness. Knowing you, you'll pop up with a few new books or some CS stories in a week or so. ;)

By the way, I hope you're submitting to the CS anthology with the "You Go, Girl" theme. I bet you have a story or two that would fit.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love this - "Take the time you need to find the why and the way back will follow." It's pretty much where I'm at right now. :)

Margo Dill said...

This is a post that is making me think. I am pretty busy as a single mom and basically working 2 jobs, but I don't want to be the Busiest Person Ever. Let's start a support group! LOL

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, Sioux, Linda really does do it all--and she does it well. But I suspect she is a master at organizing her time and priorities. So she's the Busiest AND Most Organized Writer I know! :-)

But busyness can become a great excuse not to do the stuff one should do--or thinks one wants to do. And that's where I've found myself lately. So Madeline and Margo, maybe we form a support group? (But of course, we'd be way too busy to ever meet! Hahahahha!)

Nicole Pyles said...

This speaks to me so much! I actually had a personal goal this year to cut back on what I call my "side projects." I can't say I'm totally there yet but I'd like to be. Busyness is distracting and fulfilling yet can often take us away from other important things. Sigh, now back to work lol

Pat Wahler said...

I guess it's about finding a balance. I need to market, I need to write, I need to clean the bathroom. Sadly, I still struggle to do it all.

Renee Roberson said...

Oh boy, have I dealt with this over the years. For years, I let the "busyness" of having kids keep me from self-care and focusing on some of my big dreams. Now that they are older, I find myself taking on assignments and projects that I probably shouldn't because I want to put out this appearance of being an "accomplished" writer. I'm not sure who I feel the need to impress, but I'm working on reprioritizing.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You're right again, though I have a different word for it: procrastination. Procrastination in my world looks a lot like busyness. But I like the word busyness better. It makes me sound more accomplished. :)

Mary Horner said...

Great topic, I think I'm guilty of it at times, like most of us are, so it's good to be reminded of the important writing goals we want to achieve, and put it all into perspective.

Linda O'Connell said...

Aww, you guys! I only appear to be a BPE. Seriously, after babysitting my little guys, I am so exhausted I nap before bed.

I always intend to tackle a call for submission and then get waylaid by the mundane or the must dos in my life. I also sabotage myself by putting off until tomorrow... But what keeps me productive is a wall calendar on my desk. I write my submissions in the little boxes on the days I do submit. If by the end of the month, my calendar page looks sparse, I am motivated to write. I run an annual tally so I can actually SEE if I am on track to produce my self-imposed rule of 80 submissions by year's end. I strive for 5-7 per month. When I slack off, I work harder in the coming months.

Suzanne Pitner said...

I'm there, too. I found I couldn't do everything all the time. Gasp! I'll find my way back when I'm a bit less busy. Meanwhile, story ideas are percolating.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top