09 April 2014

Urgent vs. Important

While at Writing for Charity, Maryrose Wood gave the keynote speech.  She wrote this series

about a girl that becomes a nanny for children that have been raised by wolves.  Good stuff.  She also teaches creative writing at a University in New York (but silly me, I've forgotten which one she said).

The gist of her speech, for all of you who really, really wanted to go to a writing conference and just didn't get the chance, was this:

Don't put off what's Important for something merely Urgent.

Urgent = anything with a notification system.  If it beeps, flashes, or demands that you look, it is Urgent.  That includes texts, emails, tweets, phone calls (does anyone besides my mom actually call anymore?), or more of that sort.  The Urgent things that cybernetically take us away for sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, days and weeks with their pings and flashing lights.

Important = the things that are easily ignored that we have to discipline ourselves to do, but that bring a sense of fulfillment once accomplished.  Writing falls under that category for most authors.  I would suggest anything spiritually minded also belongs in this category.  The Important is easy to mislay, or put off because it doesn't push its nose into our business.  We have to seek it out.

Ms. Wood had us all close our eyes and focus on breathing, only on breathing, for five minutes.  If we found ourselves thinking of something else, we were to derail our distraction and get back on the breathing train.  She says she does this exercise each day before she begins writing, and that it's amazing how ideas jostle and beg for attention when she's done.  It makes her writing sessions much more productive.

Her speech gave us meat to chew on while also providing cotton candy to entertain.  She is living proof that not every writer is socially awkward.