In a lot of ways, this last year was harder on me than 2020. I handle stress by getting busier and by mid 2021 all my busy-ness was starting to peak into insanity. I still remember brainstorming and deciding that starting a monthly virtual convention, a university for writers and a monthly contest for writers would be a good idea. It wasn’t.

Somewhere around October I realized I was being buried alive. I saw the errors of my frenetic activity but I couldn’t stop making new work. If I had a spare minute I might think about current events. The scarier the news, the more things I scheduled.

Then, last week I heard a quote from Bruce Lee that resonated with me:

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease.
Hack away at the unessential.

Speaking of decrease reminds me of the sculptor Michelangelo. He said the statue was already waiting in the block of marble. All he had to do was chip away the excess to free the masterpiece.

I looked around at the distractions I’ve piled around myself, my task lists (yes, plural) and my jam packed schedule. The last two years have been scary and I haven’t wanted to deal with it, but in piling on all the distractions I’ve buried what matters. What sculpture is waiting trapped in my excessive doing?

This last week I’ve slowed down, cleared out my schedule and simplified. The problem with doing more is that I do nothing well. I’m just adding more noise to the world. As I close out 2021, I’m not dissatisfied. It was a good year, I accomplished a lot and I learned even more. But enough is enough. Time to listen to Bruce and cut away all the noise so the essential can be heard.

And with that, I will be back here next Saturday.

Angela Yuriko Smith

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience as a professional writer in nonfiction. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), producer of the Exercise Your Writes YouTube podcast, two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She shares a weekly calendar of author opportunities at

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