Inviting in the Multipliers

A few days ago, I received the news that I was accepted to this year’s Tin House Summer Workshop, to workshop with Juli Delgado Lopera (!!!). I am excited, and also a teeny bit overwhelmed because the manuscript is due in a month and my project feels rather unwieldy at the moment.

Last week, I wrote about becoming an anytime-all-the-time writer, and with both 1000 Words of Summer and Tin House approaching, that now feels critical. A shift will be necessary, a making of room.

At this point, there is not a lot in my life that I could cut out. It’s going to be about adding in. Here’s more writer math for you: certain activities are time and energy multipliers. For example, if I have 16.5 waking hours and spend .5 hours looking at art in a museum, I will have an extra hour’s worth of energy for making my own art.

These things are different for every person, but here are some of mine:

  • Reading (or rereading) novels or stories that I LOVE

  • Reading biographies, especially of writers and artists

  • Reading poetry

  • Listening to music

  • Reading or listening to interviews with writers I admire

  • Watching documentaries

  • Meditating

  • Maintaining a clean workspace

  • Having a one-on-one conversation with a friend

  • Exercising regularly and eating healthy foods

  • Going to museums or looking at art online

  • Taking writing classes that pull me outside my comfort zone

  • Going on long walks, especially in other neighborhoods or boroughs

  • Browsing in libraries or bookstores

  • Traveling to other cities

There are also time and energy diminishers — consuming whatever is on my social media feed indiscriminately, pushing through a book I don’t like, making too many social plans. This second list is tough, however, because the writing life also requires room for spontaneity. Sometimes it’s worth reading a book I’m not 100% enjoying because there’s some detail that sparks an idea. Sometimes I stumble upon something on social media that helps me make a connection with a real-life person or leads me down a fruitful rabbit hole. It’s hard to tell the good rabbit holes from the bad rabbit holes until you are deep down in them, squinting up at that last sliver of sun.

But the first list — these are things I know work for me. Make room in my life for these activities, and I will write more.

What are your multipliers? How do you protect yourself from diminishers?