Best Laid Plans

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While I’ve found it difficult lately to sit down and write my 500 words about “anything” I can certainly start off a pretty impressive list (probably at least 500) of the reasons why this daily exercise has fallen off the side of my desk. But in the interests of time and space and not wanting to dissolve into a heaping pile of tears, I’ll stick to the top five.

1. Little people need love

Let’s face it—don’t we all? What I mean, though, is that I have three little people in my life who require a fair amount of, how should I put it, intervention to get through their day. Love is part of it, the part I love, but so is diapering, dispute resolution, housekeeping, spider catching, toy finding, feeding, etc., etc. Those things take actual time, not just theoretical time, and since little people with big expectations are counting on me to make those things happen all day, every day, it’s hard to figure out when I can sit down long enough to get any writing done. Because, let’s face it, there’s usually some thinking and planning involved in writing and you can’t just set a stopwatch and say, “Ready, Set, Go! You’ve got 45 minutes. Crank out something profound!”

2. Clutter is my kryptonite

Good thing my husband doesn’t drink coffee, because if he did, he’d probably be spewing hot liquid across the room at reading that title. If you’ve read my earlier post about ways to better manage kids and household, you’ll recall that I said I was “Okay” with clutter, but things had to be clean. Yeah, I know. But for some strange reason, if there are piles of clutter (a.k.a, crap) lying about the house, they make it impossible for creative thought to penetrate my brain. We recently came back from a two-week trip and we spent two days just washing and folding and putting away laundry. Then there was putting all of our camping gear away in the garage. Then when I was putting the kids’ art supplies away—which we had taken on the road with us— I was disgusted by the messiness of our cabinets and decided I needed to immediately purge and organize. To me, this meant “dump everything out on the floor and table and slowly put the keepers back in; recycle, donate, or toss the rest.” Great idea, EXCEPT, choosing to do this when we’re 1) still cleaning up from our trip and 2) when my husband is away and I’m on mom-duty to three on my own probably wasn’t the best timing. I’m staring at some clothes on the floor as I type this and I feel like I want to break out in hives. Is it crazy that I want my house to be clean before I can sit down and write? Or does it make sense that I want to remove distractions from my life so that I can sit and write undisturbed by thoughts of laundry and dust bunnies?

3. My ideas are too good for my own good

I’ve often lamented the fact that there are no jobs out there with the title of “idea generator”. If there were, I’d be a VP with a corner office by now. Honestly, you don’t want to know about my long list of inventions, product ideas, or home improvement projects. As I’ve written before, I’m currently working on 1) this blog; 2) my screenplays (yes, plural); 3) a children’s book series; and 4) numerous sewing and craft projects including roman shades, a sunhat for baby G, and new slipcovers for our eat-in dining table chairs. I feel like my brain is a geyser and it’s blowing its top. I don’t exactly think I have ADD, as I’m able to devote focus and attention to projects, but having a messy house certainly dampens my creative spark. It would be helpful, I know, to pick one project and then just set a timeline and try to hold myself accountable to getting it done and THEN moving on to the next project on the pile. The problem with that approach, however, is that I might be writing one project and suddenly get inspiration for a scene or character backstory for another project. In any case, if anyone has the time, money, to invest in a project or business but lacks inspiration, give me a call, I’ve got loads. Maybe we can make a deal.

4. The rewards of mommyhood aren’t monetary

Don’t throw flames, people, I LOVE being at home. I LOVE being the primary caregiver to my three kids. I’m very grateful that I’ve had the good fortune to have a partner whose salary could support me being able to stay home with my children at this stage in their lives. It’s a privilege and I get that. However, whether it’s wrong or not, I’ve always felt my own self worth tied a little bit to whether I was contributing financially to our family. I am acutely aware that whenever I buy clothes for myself, or get my hair cut, or take the kids out to lunch, that there’s a withdrawal happening in our family’s finances that I cannot help to replace. I’m sensitive to the fact that the longer I remain out of the traditional workforce, the harder (or close to impossible) it will be for me to re-enter. I’m not aging in reverse, People. Younger, more enthusiastic women (women without families who can work for less money than me) are lining up for the jobs for which I’m qualified. My son starts kindergarten in the fall. His schedule is from 8:20 to 1:40 (on early days he’ll get out at 11:40). Tell me, what kind of job could I possible get that would allow me to work for such short periods and pay enough that it would be worth paying to put baby G in childcare? Not many. Since leaving my part-time job with Center for Environmental Health in January, I’ve been looking—daily—for some kind of work-from-home writing job that would pay more than $10 an article. And that takes up a fair amount of my time. Our house is old and needs repairs. I hate that we have to put off much-needed fixes because I’m not working. But then I don’t know how to get back into the workforce while my kids are so little without sacrificing time at home, either. So anyone reading, if you need an idea generator (see #3), or if you need a blogger, grant writer, technical or marketing writer who knows her way around WordPress and HTML, give me a shout. You can check out my samples at www.marybrune.com.

5. I’ve been following Alice down the rabbit hole

I’m at home with the kids now, so there’s the time involved in being with them (playing, feeding, clothing, cleaning, etc.). Then there is the time involved in managing everything else that comes with them: arranging playdates, going to dr.’s appointments, driving them to camps, going to the grocery store so that I have food in the house to feed them, cleaning out their drawers to donate clothes they’ve outgrown, taking them shopping to buy clothes that fit. Now not all of these things need to happen every day. But when you factor in three kids, over five days in the “work week” it doesn’t leave a whole lot for anything else. (I attempted to track this lost time in a blog post a few months ago to illustrate how easy it is to go down that rabbit hole.) Sure, I could write after the kids go to bed in the window between 8pm and Midnight—and I often do—but sometimes I just want to veg out a bit. Yes, it is imperative at the end of a long day of kid wrangling that I sit down with a glass of milk and a protein bar and watch a couple of episodes of Cupcake Wars, or Chopped. Call it therapy.

So those are the top five reasons I’ve found it difficult to stick to my writing goals. How ironic that writing about them gave me enough material for nearly three posts worth of words.


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