I believe that time is a gift. Every day that I wake up is a blessing, and one I try not to take for granted. (Thinking that you're dying does have its advantages. But don't worry, I'm fine now.) Time is also a gift I choose to give myself. Time to work and think creatively. Time to rest and take care of myself. Time to steep myself in nature and quiet moments. Time to just let myself be, and be thankful for all the many blessings in my life.
As I've been participating in NaNoWriMo this month (though with slightly less-intense rules, since I write and paint full-time already, and it's not just a one-month stint for me), I've been thinking a lot about the time creativity takes. The great investment of time it demands. NaNoWriMo has also reaffirmed my belief that no good book is written in a month, but a good rough draft can be. A rough draft that you can spend the next year or two revising and reworking into something truly beautiful. Art takes time. Everyone works at different paces: I know some writers who have spent ten years on one book that's still not finished, and I also know writers who churn out a novel every three months. There's no right or wrong timeline, so you need to do what's best for you. Listen to yourself and to your work and give it your all! Give yourself the time and space to really invest in your craft and give it everything you've got. What emerges from work undertaken with dedication and with love will always be beautiful.
I can't procrastinate. Believe me, it sounds like loads of fun and I'd love to try it sometime, but I seem physically incapable of it. And while this is great for meeting deadlines, it's not so good when it comes to letting projects rest and steep for a while. The only way I can accomplish this is by working on another project instead, cycling them out so that I always have two or three books on my desk at any given time.
I think it's important to let large projects (like books) rest for a while in between creative bursts. The novel I finished for NaNoWriMo (I was about halfway through when I started, and now have a completed rough draft) was one I've been working intensively on for the past six months. It's a book that I'm deeply passionate about and is quite close to my heart (which are often the hardest ones to write). As such, I respect it enough to give it a break now. Let it sleep for a while, during which time I'm free to work on other things, letting my mind operate in different rhythms, think different sorts of thoughts, and let my creativity stretch and flow into different shapes. And then in a few months, when I'm ready, I'll go back to the novel and start revising and reworking it. This process will then be repeated for however long it takes to craft the book into the best it can be (since I'll never, ever be satisfied with anything I create). Or until I desperately need the money from its sale. That's definitely a large part of the equation as well. But that's one advantage of having so many books in-progress at once; I can give one time to rest while another is thrown squawking from the nest into the waiting jaws of the publishing industry.
None of us know how much time we have, so it's our job to make the most of it. This is as true in art as it is in life. It is our responsibility therefore to invest it in what we are truly passionate about, what gives our lives joy and meaning. As J. R. R. Tolkien so wisely said "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."