A friend of mine recently attended an afternoon writing panel on which I was speaking about Strong Women in Children’s Literature. She’d had a busy morning. She’d worked out and followed that with a heavy lunch with her family. She was tired and tempted to skip my panel in favor of a nap. After the event, she told me how glad she was she decided to forgo sleeping and come to the panel, where she felt educated and inspired. “I reminded myself, no great story ever started with the character deciding to take a nap,” she said.

What a good lesson that is for everyone. We are all so terribly busy and overwhelmed and just plain tired at times. And our art and the study of our art can feel like one more thing to add to our plates. Even those of us who do this full time find it tempting to skip work some days in favor of a long walk in the sunshine or finishing the last two chapters of that awesome novel we’ve been reading.

But like most things in life, once you sit down and put some attention toward your art, you typically get drawn in. It might take a few minutes, but pretty quickly you get a sense of where you left off and start to feel that tug to move forward. That’s why it’s so important to set regular hours to pursue your art. Even if you can’t do it every day, knowing there is a time that week you have dedicated to your art will help you stay focused and on task. And while you are away from your desk or easel or musical instrument, your mind will know that deadline is approaching and will work subconsciously to get you ready for your date with your art.

Relationships take work. If you’re going to court your muse, you need to give her some time and attention. She needs to know she matters.

So no more excuses. You can sleep your way through life, or you can engage. What’s it going to be?

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