Anne Lamott on Making Time

The good news, Anne Lamott tells her students, is that creative expression can give you so much of what you’ve been looking for – meaning, wonder, enlivenment.

The bad news, she tells them: You have to make time for it.

But their time is taken, the students tell her. They have kids, jobs, budgets, appointments. They are busy. Doesn’t she understand that?

She does. She also understands how addictive busyness is. And she asks them: What will you give up for a few minutes spent in the creative process? Would you trade in watching the news or toodling around online for writing in a journal or sketching the skyline every day?

For Ms. Lamott, she’s made a habit of it. Since around the time Johnson was President, she’s shown up to her desk at the same time each morning. She lets herself write really rotten first drafts. It often goes badly. But it’s time she gives to her imagination, to ideas that can only be unearthed in silence and stillness, and, really, to herself.

“I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself,” she wrote in Sunset Magazine, “unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour.”

When you’re 80, she asks her students, will your life have been a full one because you kept your bank account flush, your house clean, your car polished?

The time is there in the day for your poems, your collages, your dances, she promises them. If you make it.

And making time might hurt. But, she tells her students, “time is not free — that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.”

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