Waiting for the mood to strike, aka wasting time

By Joanne Peterson | Feb 19, 2014

Today I ran across a quote from famed author Pearl Buck:  “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

I notice the things I choose to do depend often upon my mood.  Oh, if I have an obligation, unless there’s some sort of emergency (grandchild sick—needs Grandma) or am not feeling well (Grandma sick—courtesy of grandchild), I show up.

If I have a scheduled meeting, class or concert, I’m there unless something prevents me from attending. At home, though, I am apt to take the option of relying on my mood to determine what I accomplish in a day.

Since I retired, quite some time ago, I’ve enjoyed being in charge of my own schedule. When I was employed, great chunks of each day were mapped out for me.

My observation is that once I became the sole keeper of my calendar, became the one to decide what to do with my time, my productivity became erratic, actions dependent upon mood.

I know I am not alone in this.  Other people who are retired comment on their own difficulties with accomplishing tasks and activities. How often have you heard someone say she has no idea where the time goes, recalling that when she worked outside the home 40 hours a week, she fulfilled those job requirements—plus kept a household running? I’ve heard that many times.

Before I retired, a friend who worked with me pointed out that, finally, no longer bound by my work schedule, I would have time to write. “Isn’t that wonderful?” she said.

I remember responding with what I knew in my heart but had never verbalized: a writer finds time to write, no matter how many obligations of career and family interfere.

Lacking in significant determination, I hadn’t been writing much; consequently, it was hard to imagine that a wide-open calendar would convince me to write during retirement.

Gradually, though, I discovered during the past few years that I needed to write.  I’ve had rich experiences as a student, as a teacher and as an ordinary person who has spent years noticing, remembering and imagining. Indeed, by retirement age, haven’t we all accumulated enough life experiences to prompt pages, chapters, volumes?

Now I write a weekly column and some other things, indulging my renewed interest in writing, encouraged by my amazing writers’ group. The trouble is, given the choice, I’d really prefer to do my writing when the mood strikes. (Honestly, a lot of the time, I’d rather read.)

I meet my weekly Beacon deadline. I also enter writing contests—but I’m known for dashing into the post office at 4:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the deadline, because I wasn’t in the mood to finish my entry earlier.

I’m feeling inspired by those words of Pearl Buck.  I’m going to get past waiting for the mood to strike.  My mind knows it has to get down to work

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