As a working mom of a special needs child, I often struggle with time issues. I try my best to give work my full attention during the daytime hours, and my kids and husband my full attention during the hours after work and on weekends (with the exception of my twice a week yoga classes).
Although I’ve been told that I don’t have enough time for myself, I think this arrangement is fair to all parties. I don’t want to spend my time with my husband and kids engrossed in my laptop, or tapping on the iPad, so I try to save those activities until “Me Time.” However, on some nights, by the time “Me Time” rolls around I’m exhausted. I hear my bed calling me, begging me to come get warm under the down comforter, and rest my tired body on the blissful perfectness that is our king-sized Tempur-Pedic mattress.
Most nights I can resist the call to sleep, because I know that I won’t have another opportunity to write until the next night. Also, who knows what the next night will bring? Maybe a kid will get sick or have issues falling asleep, or someone will call wanting to talk. Life happens, at all hours of the day and night, so I try to take advantage of every spare moment possible.
The following quote is from Julia Cameron’s book The Right to Write, a wonderful book from a wonderful author, given to me by a wonderful friend.
If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run.
I circled this passage as I read the book. Writing is my “lover on the run.” We meet up after I put the kids to sleep, whenever possible, and we make the short time we have together worth every second.
Ms. Cameron goes on to write:
The trick to finding writing time, then, is to write from love and not with an eye to product. Don’t try to write something perfect; just write. Don’t try to write the whole megillah; just start the whole megillah. Yes, it is daunting to think of finding time to write an entire novel, but it is not so daunting to think of finding time to write a paragraph, even a sentence. And paragraphs, made of sentences, are what novels are really made of.
I love this advice. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time to do it all,” say, “I do have time to do some. Even if it’s not perfect.” A bunch of “some’s” eventually will turn into an “all,” and before you know it, you’ve managed to accomplish something you’ve desired–in my case, barf out a couple of novels in dire need of editing. But still. I did it. I did it while reminding myself that the pages wouldn’t be perfect, and by proceeding paragraph by paragraph, hour by hour. I thought about quitting, and spent some time in television mode and reading mode, but eventually persevered and got the first drafts done.
Later, Ms. Cameron advises:
The trick to finding writing time is to make writing time in the life you’ve already got. That’s where you’ve got leverage. Stop imagining some other life as a “real” writer’s life. Key West sunsets do not make a writer’s life. Trust funds do not fund the flow of ideas. All lives are writers’ lives because all of us are writers.
I see truth in these words. Whenever we say “we can’t” because of X, Y, or Z, we close the door and block out something that can enrich our lives. Yeah, maybe we can’t write for eight hours every day, or spend the days playing tennis, or reading, or whatever it is we would like to do because we have to work. Maybe we can’t hang out with our friends every night, or sit in front of the television to watch a marathon of Lifetime movies because we have to take care of the kids. Maybe we can’t see a personal trainer or go to the gym as often as we’d prefer because we haven’t the cash or the time. But even though we can’t do these things to the extent we would like, having an “all or nothing” attitude isn’t the answer.
Make time in the life you’ve already got, Ms. Cameron says. That’s what I try to do with my writing- make time in the life I’ve got. Because I know that carving out time to write makes me feel happy and gives me a sense of personal satisfaction which trickles out to all aspects of my life.
I hope you all carve out time in your lives- minutes, hours, whatever you can manage- to do something you love. It’s worth the effort– and that Tempur-Pedic will still be there when you are ready to rest!