Feeling just a little bit overwhelmed these days? Or a lot bit overwhelmed? You’re not alone. I have come to the conclusion that everyone feels overwhelmed. Constantly. It’s more or less a state of being for our world today.
On a recent Monday morning, the kids shuttled off to school, husband hard at work, I took a look at my to-do list for the day:
Laundry, groceries, straighten up house, drop off clothes for donation, get to the health club, make three doctor appointments, pick up prescription, call friend whose Mom is in hospital, pick up dry cleaning, schedule piano tuner…and, OH YEAH, get to that WIP!
How come the ol’ work in progress is at the end of my list? That just ain’t right.
Do you find that to be true, as well? Everything else seems more pressing, or you can’t write until the house is tidied up and the laundry is put away, or you spend so much time doing errands and tasks, that by the time you sit down to write, you’re too exhausted to think?
Balance is an issue that weighs on many writers, especially those of us who work at home. Finding the time to write can be a challenge on many days. When I talk to other writers, I’m always curious how they juggle their writing time with all that other stuff.
I know many writers who attack their work first thing in the morning, still in their PJs, before the day gets away from them. Others get up before everyone else, writing at some ungodly hour in the morning. Still others work late at night when the rest of the house is fast asleep.
I’m not sure any of those options are right for me… For one, I think better when my teeth are brushed and I’m wearing actual clothing. Okay, and, I like to sleep! Plus, a messed-up house makes me completely crazy, I admit it!
In trying to come up with a plan that would work for me, I stumbled across this quote from Katherine Paterson:
“As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.”
Wait…is she saying I shouldn’t despise that pile of laundry, sink full of dishes, and empty fridge? That they are somehow good things?
Is it possible that all this stuff that’s constantly on my to-do list, challenging my writing time, can actually fuel my writing? Give me ideas for characters, plot, setting?
I never thought about it that way. That’s a whole new ballgame.
So I have a plan now. Instead of resenting the to-do list tasks or feeling like I need to get through them all at once, I blend them in with my day. Straighten up house, write for one hour. Throw in a load of laundry, write for another hour. Get to a couple of phone calls and emails, write for another hour. Somehow, those little breaks in between my focused writing time allow my brain to process and review what I’ve written, and I get some other things done too!
Plus, when I took the laundry out of the dryer today, there was a nice chunk of gum stuck to my daughter’s jeans. Hmm… there’s a character in my WIP who is obsessed with gum-chewing…
Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books 2011) and The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days (Wendy Lamb Books, coming April 2014). She can be found at micheleweberhurwitz.com and on her Facebook author page.