Writing Timeout

There is just so much going on in my life this week. So. Very. Much. And with that, I have had to put the writing aside. I have had to consciously tell myself to not feel guilt for what I have not been able to do because what I am doing is so very important. What I am doing is showing up in my kids’ classrooms, helping a family member with a large, meaningful task and working on some neighborhood business. All wonderful things. All fulfilling things. All taking up the time I normally reserve for writing. I know next week will be better. I know flexibility is key. I know it’s fear that fuels the guilt.

The fact of the matter is it so easy to not do the things that are hard. Even when that hard is good and rewarding. It’s easy to fall into old habits. It’s easy to find your safety blanket and refuse to let it go.

What reassures me this week is that it’s not been as easy to not do the hard things as it has been in the past. I’m in a place with my work in progress that is hard for me. I work well in snippets, which is why this blog can be so exciting for me, but I get a little panicky about sustaining a book-length manuscript. Part of me wants to avoid writing to stave off this impending wall. But I’m finding a larger part of me wants to pick up a chisel and a hammer and start taking that wall apart brick by brick so that I can see what’s on the other side. It’s exciting and scary and frustrating when I see my time this week ebbing away, keeping me from the larger task at hand in my work.

Yet, I know what my writing needs most is a break. A break to get my tools ready, to prepare myself, to be at my most focused self so that I don’t sit down with the pressure of the task ahead and feel a failure because I only had 15 minutes before carpool and the work deserves so much more than that.

So I’m in a timeout this week, working on nurturing the seed of the story inside and trying not to rush it. I’m taking the time to give my full attention to the tasks and people around me right now who need it much more than the characters on the page. They will still be there next week. They aren’t going anywhere. And if they do, well then, they probably weren’t worth being there in the first place.

As workers, mothers, wives, daughters, friends, we sometimes need to take a break and, maybe more importantly, give ourselves a break. Sacrifice comes with the territory. We need to embrace it in those moments then pick back up where we left off. As women, we don’t need to make excuses for why we did one thing over another. We need to simply make our choices and then move on to the next choice.

So this week, I choose family over writing. I choose timeout. Next week, I choose to be selfish about my writing time. The week after? Who knows? What I won’t choose is guilt.

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