As a new writer, one of the first writing rules I learned was to be sure there was plenty of white space on the page. At that time, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. As I grew in my craft and my abilities, I learned it meant having a good balance of dialogue and narrative to ensure the reader isn’t overwhelmed by the number of words on the page.
Another writing rule in writing is proper manuscript formatting. Manuscripts with uniform, clean margins used to allow for editorial comments before Track Changes, giving them room to offer suggestions to improve the manuscript.
Allowing for white space and margins in our lives allows us to clean out the clutter and extra busyness that bogs us down. Filling every moment of our lives causes extra stress as we juggle more activities and events than we have time.
White space allows us to breathe. It allows room for creative brainstorming.
Last Friday, I had a few errands to run. Wanting to take advantage of the gorgeous seventy-degree weather, I finished my errands. Then I headed home to take my dog for a walk at our favorite park three minutes from our house.
As we strolled down the path carpeted with leaves of burnt orange, butterscotch, and crimson, I breathed allowed the light breeze to brush my face. My dog sniffed a billion different scents as she explored trees, bushes, and the occasional bench.
I could have skipped the walk and hustled home to finish my work after my errands, but I knew I needed some white space—some mindful downtime to refresh my spirit and refuel my creative energy.
Why do we feel like we have to fill every moment of our day?
Perhaps it’s not even a want. But our responsibilities continue to grow, weighing us down. And maybe there are days when the tasks outnumber the hours in the day.
Over the weekend, I told my husband I was rearranging my schedule to get all of my work—housework, day job, and writing—done by Friday so we can have the weekends to spend together. I feel guilty when he wants to do something but I have to put him off because I hadn’t met my word count for the week or get a project finished. Weekends tended to be my catch-up times, but it left very little time for white space. Or time to decompress with other creative pursuits that I enjoy, such as stamping and cardmaking.
There’s a reason why God commands us to work six days and rest on the seventh.
How do we live a productive life?
In her Monday newsletter, award-winning author Susan May Warren said, “I have a personal rule (after a number of disasters), I only agree to read a book, take a class, get together with friends, or even work on a personal project if I can schedule it into my life. I have to look at my calendar and ask myself if I have time for it.”
Susie is a close friend, writing mentor, and my current employer (I’m the operations manager for her online writing school, Novel Academy), and I value her words because she leads a very busy life—she’s a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an award-winning, multi-published author of eighty-five novels, and she runs three businesses that she built from the ground up.
She knows how to live a productive life because she understands the value of creating white space in her life.
She went on to say, “Our goals are actually just DREAMS until we schedule them. Dreams inspire. Lists bring us down to earth. SCHEDULES get stuff done.”If our schedules are too full of other things, less important things, then we are crowding out opportunities to pursue our creative passions…and leaving very little room for white space. #creativity #dailyliving #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
How can you create white space?
Take a look at your monthly schedule. Do you have scheduled white space in your busy life? Are you leaving room for God to write in the margins? Are you creating room to pursue the calling God has laid on your heart?
Allowing for white space takes sacrifice and commitment in order to protect your creative time. You may need to learn to say no when you want to say yes. You may struggle with FOMO—fear of missing out—but when you honor God with your time and creative pursuits, that will give you a greater sense of satisfaction.
One of my favorite life-changing Elisabeth Elliot quotes, shared by my good friend and award-winning author, Beth Vogt, says, “To say yes to one thing is to say no to a thousand others.”
Instead of constantly adding to your already busy life, I challenge you to spend some time in prayer and ask God what changes He’d like you to make. You may have to reevaluate your priorities and make some difficult decisions to eliminate busyness that crowds your white margins. Isn’t pursuing your dream worth it? Isn’t your peace of mind worth it?
So, what about you? What will you do to allow for more white space in your creative pursuits?Are You Allowing for White Space in Your Creativity? #creativity #dailyliving #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
I’m linking up with #TellHisStory.
Lisa, I’m at the beach for a few days with my husband enjoying some white space. Ahh, what a joy to have this time. Loved your post and so relate to it.
Debbie, enjoy the beach! It’s my favorite getaway. I hope you return refreshed and refueled.
I am all about whitespace. In my life, my writing, my quiet time.
Me too, Susan. When my margins are too cluttered, I just can’t function as well.
Creativity does indeed require white space. So does productivity. We can actually accomplish more if we take breaks and allow our minds and bodies to refresh. Thank you for the important reminder, Lisa, to prayerfully consider what changes might be necessary to provide for adequate downtime.
You’re welcome, Nancy. You’re right about productivity. It’s important to give our minds a rest as well.