We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations. I’m not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that.
As I look back through my morning pages over the past several months and re-read my blog posts, there is one theme that recurs over and over again – my lack of time. I’m well aware that I try to pack too many activities and responsibilities in my day, but what can I do? All these things – work, household chores, helping out my mom and caring for my mother in law, tending the dogs, rehearsals, practicing, and of course, reading and writing- are things that I either need to do or love to do.
When I started writing on a regular basis last March, my daily schedule was already quite full. I had no idea that my writing would become a habit forming hobby! Now, I’m having a hard time getting everything done and still having time left to write. So I usually end up doing just what Toni Morrison describes – slipping creative work in between chores and obligations. And yes, actually I am pretty proud that I managed to complete NaNoWriMo and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, while still going to work, preparing for a couple of concerts, and juggling my family responsibilities. And I’m amazed at the women out there who finished their novels while adding the care of small children in the mix. I think we do deserve A pluses for that!
But it isn’t only women who face this dilemma. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about the early days of his career when he honed his writing skills while teaching high school and working in an industrial laundry. He scribbled short stories for “men’s magazine’s” while waiting for huge loads of hospital linens to dry, and then went home to his wife and two kids in their “double wide trailer” to write some more.
In her book, Pen on Fire-A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within, and also on her blog, Barbara DeMarco addresses this dilemma – how do we fit writing into lives that are already too full? DeMarco advises us to “set the timer” for 15 minutes everyday. She provides lots of writing prompts and ideas for those who might be fearful of the blank page. In just 15 minutes a day, she says, you can flex your writing muscles and start unearthing the “writer within.”
But how about those of us who want more than 15 minutes? Where does it come from?
While doing NaNoWriMo, I was “stealing” time all over the place – I neglected the laundry so long, I think we were down to our last clean pairs of socks before I finally typed “the end”!
I stayed up late, got up early, and said little more than “good morning” and “good night” to my husband for the duration of November. Obviously, I couldn’t keep up that kind of pace on a regular basis. But it did make me realize how much time I could devote to writing – if I had it, that is!
There is one practice I retained from that experience that’s helping me nourish my writing habit. I’ve continued getting up about an hour earlier than I used to. That early morning time, when the rest of the household is blissfully sleeping, gives me a nice period of quiet time to read, write, and reflect. It satisfies my writing urge, and gets my day started on the “write” foot!
Where do you find time to write? And what’s your favorite “writing time” of day?