(Image: Me, 40 years since I walked into my Grade 1 classroom not knowing an A from a B. Having learnt a few lessons along the way and experimented with different types of writing, I wonder what the next 40 years will bring?)
My third takeaway from writing is that… You have to walk the dog. (Part of the ‘3 for Me’ project by @AmyBurvall)
I think that I learnt the necessity of keeping focused on the things that really matter, like familial responsibilities and using those times to really take a break. For many parents this may be soccer practice or parental taxi duties. The one that sticks in my mind was walking our dog. Soba was his name, a beautiful Vizsla who loved to run on the Ara riverbanks in Tokyo. I was in charge of these escapes and my daughters often came. There were times when university deadlines approached, the fragile novel seemed at a standstill and work (my real job as a principal) was busy and one or two hours in the evening that it took to walk the dog seemed like precious time indeed. At these moments, I consciously lengthened his walk rather than shortening it. This time was as therapeutic for him as it was for me. I took the time to let my mind wander and oftentimes, out of the blue, an idea would come. I carried a little notebook with me always and jotted down whatever came up. In this sense, the takeaway was to embrace those responsibilities in your life, use them as a time of escape from your creativity – a forced procrastination of sorts. Enjoy these times away from your projects and you’ll probably find them surprisingly productive.