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Making Time for YOU

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Is this is a familiar scenario?

Keyboard is fired up. Coffee/tea/whatever is poured. You know exactly what you’re going to work on today. You’ve made a month-long commitment to reach a certain goal, and, dammit, you’re going to DO it. You’re excited about this. More importantly, you’re excited about your story and can’t wait to get the words down.

You’ve warned everyone you know: I am writing this month. This is very important to me. Please try to understand. They all nodded their heads and wished you luck. Or maybe they rolled they eyes and nudged each other. Whatever. You told them, right?

The house is relatively quiet. It’s a good time to begin. You open your document with a flourish, eager to dive in. The creative juices are already flowing through your veins. Maybe you’re writing something you suspect is one of the best things you've ever written—isn’t that a great feeling? Or maybe you realize you’ve written a bunch of crap, but you just figured out what's wrong and how to improve it. Now you’re really on a roll.

Then the phone rings. If you’re like me, you ignore it. Not everyone can do that, though, for various reasons. If it’s an emergency phone call from your kids’ school, or a home invasion (though they usually don’t ring the bell) you’re screwed. Otherwise it’s a temporary annoyance. Usually you can get back to what you’re doing.

Or your day could go something like this:

The phone rings twenty times. Half of those times it's the same person and you can't get rid of them, but you're too nice to be rude.

Your kids, who are not in school, demand to be fed, dressed, entertained, etc. As it’s against the law to use kiddie cages in most states, there’s not a lot you can do about this except cave in. Older kids need to be driven places. Grandparents regularly get asked to babysit their grandkids. I swear there's nothing more detrimental to the writing than KIDS, lol.

Your spouse decides there is a chore you need to do immediately, never mind that same chore’s been sitting around, undone, for a solid six months now, or that you are not the only one capable of doing it, hint, hint. Or he insists on coming into the room fifty times to strike up a conversation, complain about something, or ask a very important question. e.g. "Does this hotdog smell funny?"

And it's not just the family. It's friends. It's relatives. It's people asking you to do things for them. Or maybe people inviting you to things with them, which is always nice...but maybe not at this particular time.

Oh, and in my house: The dog has to go out. No one else hears him scratching at the door. The dog is eating a piece of foil. No one else has the guts to pry it from his jaws. The dog just barfed. No one’s touching it.

Some days it’s one thing after another. You spend more time jumping up and down than you do at the keyboard. Then, of course, there are the other time-sucks: TV and the internet.

Suggestions:

1. Whenever possible, don’t write at home—go to the library, a coffee house, McDonalds. Even the backseat of your car. This is only possible if you have A. a laptop (or can write by hand) and B. someone to watch the kids. If you don’t, then set your alarm and write in the morning before they get up, or write after they go to bed. If they’re in school, take advantage of that and write during the day. Trying to write around kids is like walking a tightrope in a blizzard.

2. Set limits with your significant others. Consider bribery. If batting your eyes and sweet talk doesn’t work, get mean. Maybe not as mean as Jack Nicholson when Shelley Duvall kept interrupting him in The Shining…but you get my drift. 

3. Seriously, stay away from the TV, especially when the only time you can write is late in the evening. Of course we all have our favorite shows, but if your time is that limited, you have to prioritize. Same with the internet. It’s not that important.

4. Neither is cleaning the house. Nobody ever died from a month’s worth of dirt (after all, look at “Hoarders”.) “I have to vacuum/dust/whatever” is NEVER an excuse for not writing. I’m fairly confident my family plans to carve that into my headstone.

5. Remember, it's perfectly okay to say no to people. "No" is a great word. Sadly, sometimes it takes us years to learn how and when to use it to our own advantage.

Think of it this way: Suppose you burst into your teenager's party and insisted he come home to finish up some chores. Or interrupted your husband's Superbowl game because you want that leaky faucet changed now. Or told your elderly mother you can't drop her off at church because, well, you think organized religion is stupid.

Wouldn't happen, right? Then why are we so casual about allowing others to sabotage us?

Writing is YOUR party, YOUR Superbowl, YOUR church. It's every bit as important to you as anyone else's activities. Until you realize that, and learn to take it as seriously as others take their interests, you'll find it harder and harder to make time to write.

February is YOUR MONTH, people. Try not to let anyone or anything come between you and your goal!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
swhisted
Feb. 5th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
This hits home so hard. I don't have the kids, but a fiance who's office space is right beside me and no matter how often I say I'm working, even if I have headphones on, he must interrupt me a million times for nothing important. It seems like I'm able to sneak the most writing in at work (when I should be working) or in the early mornings on the weekend when fiance is still asleep (which means no sleeping in for me). It's not exactly ideal, but it's the only way I get any writing done.
onegrapeshy
Feb. 5th, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
I hear you. When I worked day shift, I remember getting up at 3 or 4 just to have some time to myself to write. (I was never one of those who could write--at least legibly--late into the night.)
kbaccellia
Feb. 6th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Amen to this. I homeschool, which is one reason why I ended up signing son up for private classes so I could go to Panera, Starbucks, and the library just to write. It's been wonderful. I can't write at home anymore especially since husband thinks it's so wonderful he can now work from home. I swear I timed him once to see how often he'd come into the room for something. It averaged every 30 minutes or so. And he totally doesn't get why it bothers me.

Then don't even start on MIL who decided to move back down here, expecting me to do everything for her. Nevermind ten years or so ago I wasn't like 'her daughter' but now that she's older she's disappointed I don't do more for her.

Grrrr.

I have to say I have been putting my foot down more and saying 'no'. It's still hard but I'm trying to make time for me to tackle this revision. It's not as if it's going to rewrite itself, right?
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
"It's not as if it's going to rewrite itself, right?"

If it does, and you figure out the magic, will you share? Pleeease?
kbaccellia
Feb. 6th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
Oh, and I have to comment on the not cleaning house thing. My one son's friend told me my house was dirty. I told him, "Uh, hello, it's not the most important thing to me right now. Writing is." He stopped and thought for a moment. "Yeah, I guess my mom is a little too crazy about the whole cleaning thing."
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
I always figured people who have sparkling clean houses either 1. have no lives 2. have housekeepers, or 3. AREN'T WRITERS, lol. With some exceptions, of course. :)

Meanwhile, back the pigsty...
melissawyatt
Feb. 6th, 2013 02:41 am (UTC)
Have you read Ursula Nordstrom on the subject of children and spouses of writers?

When my kids were old enough to understand, I would put a sign on the door with a drawing of a clock with the hands set to the time I would come out of the room. Then I would tell them that unless they or the house were on fire, there was nothing they needed to tell me that couldn't wait until I came out and when I did come out, they would have my full attention and we would (fill in the blank with whatever thing they were into at the moment.) Worked with the kids. Never quite worked with the husband.

TV is my downfall. For awhile, I had my desk in the bedroom closet, so the only thing I had in there with me was blank walls. Then my husband decided he wanted to keep his CLOTHES in there.

I haven't had a lot of luck writing outside the house. I find it so distracting, probably because I live in a town full of freaks and I always end up sitting next to one wherever I go.
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
"I would tell them that unless they or the house were on fire..."

I used to say the same thing, but always added "or hemorrhaging" lol.

I hear you about the freaks. Usually it's the foreigners yelling on their cell phones who drive me away or the people who go there to conduct business ALSO at the top of their lungs. Headphones only do so much.
another_wip
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
Just keep trying...
Life has surely sucked the 'life' out of my writing. Not an excuse. Just a fact. One I am learning to deal with.
With no partner to help pick up the slack, it is me and the kids. And the dogs.

Dogs are easy.

Kids? Well, as you said, they seem to frown on caging them. I did consider elephant tranqs...but they seem to frown on that also.
Bet 'they' aren't writers ;)

So it is late nights. After 11 or 12 till 2 or 3. Get up at six. Begin again.

Not easy. So worth it.



onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Just keep trying...
When my mom wanted some "quiet time" she'd set me and my brother down in front of the TV with a cup of beer and a bowl of peanuts.

No wonder we went to bed at 8 p.m. :D
newport2newport
Feb. 6th, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
Love this; know its truths:

Writing is YOUR party, YOUR Superbowl, YOUR church. It's every bit as important to you as anyone else's activities. Until you realize that, and learn to take it as seriously as others take their interests, you'll find it harder and harder to make time to write.


Edited at 2013-02-06 04:12 pm (UTC)
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
Sometime it take us a long time to figure this out, doesn't it?
newport2newport
Feb. 6th, 2013 04:40 pm (UTC)
Yep!! That, and learning to say 'no' to whatever's happening outside our picture windows...
kbaccellia
Feb. 6th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
OMG, I still have a problem with the whole Just Say No thing.
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
:)
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edgyauthor
Feb. 6th, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
Yes! Such a great post! I love all your suggestions. I can especially relate to #3 right now. As much as I love TV, I've actually been cutting down the number of shows I watch more and more this past year. Productivity is more important!
onegrapeshy
Feb. 6th, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'm SO glad there are only a couple of shows I care about...and one is now off the air, the other one on it's way. Soon I'll have no excuse whatsoever. :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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