This piece by Anne Lamott was in Sunset a while ago; maybe last year. My friend Jenni thankfully reminded me of it today.
As I wrote my list of things to do this morning, Anne’s words (yes, Anne Lamott and I are on a first name basis) were just what I needed to hear/read. I have freelance writing I need to do, but I put the sorting of my sons’ dresser drawers at the top of the list. The clearing of their toy clutter was next. The possible clearing out of my own closet. Important things. Very important things. Then came the writing — if time allowed.
Anyone looking at my sons’ drawers of overflowing t-shirts, pants that are on the brink of falling apart and socks past recognition, would argue that these drawers do need to be sorted, but must I do that right now? Or, could I use this 45 minutes that my husband has our sons occupied to get busy and put some words on the page (or the screen)?
In short, what would Anne Lamott do? Here’s what she says about talking to her students about finding time in our busy lives to write:
This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.
What is the response from her students? And then, her words of wisdom in response to their objections?
They look at me bitterly now—they don’t think I understand. But I do—I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?
So, how do you balance your whirlwind life with writing? If you don’t balance the two, what’s one SMALL way you’re going to try and change it this week so that you get one page written?