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Kate: On Daily Writing

A couple of weeks ago, in an effort to catapult myself out of a summer-long funk, which I described here, I began getting up and going to the coffee shop to write each weekday morning. My husband’s job had slowed down enough for him to be home until 9 am, and this allowed me two hours (or 1 ½, as is usually the case) to write.

I needed this desperately. My husband’s job, which he began just three weeks after Zoë was born, meant long days (12-14 hours) and a number of road trips this summer. Stella was out of pre-school for the summer, and I spent my days juggling my girls. By the time I got them both to sleep in the evening I was too drained to think, much less write. (And I’ve never been a night writer. Sadly, I get progressively stupider as the day goes on, so I need to write in the morning if I want anything coherent on the page.)

I literally ran out the door the first morning of my new writing ritual, jumped in the car and drove to the nearest coffee shop, where I quickly ordered my coffee and set up shop. This is the same coffee shop where I wrote the bulk of Ready for Air, and I’ve spent countless hours there, glued to my computer. Because of this, I know most of the regulars, something I realized that morning when they all greeted me as if I had returned from a long journey (which, in a way, I had). The problem with all the greeting, though, was that I got very little writing done.

The next day was better because I had explained my 7-9 time slot, and when my coffee shop friends saw me again, we waved, smiled, and I got straight back to work. Let me repeat that: I got to work. I got to work. I can’t tell you how this—a few hours in the morning five days a week—has changed my outlook on life.

When I arrive back at home to a fussy infant (and a ready-to-start-the-day almost five-year-old), I smile. I kiss my husband goodbye as he heads out the door, nurse the baby, and plan what’s next with Stella. Don’t get me wrong, as the day wears on I still get frustrated and Stella still gets time-outs. My arms still ache from carrying my not-so-little Zoë. But I feel lighter. I feel more like myself. And this is because throughout the day, I think about my work, about the essay I’m trudging through, about what I might add to it the next day. It’s near the surface, and I love that, because it makes me think that my mind is working on it all day, even when I’m doing something as mundane as putting toys away. This reminds me of Miranda’s comment on my last post. She claimed that even laundry could be a creative act. Cathy and I scoffed a little. But this is exactly how I’ve felt the last two weeks: all those little, housekeeping, family-tending things I do everyday are now infused with creativity—they are enhanced by my writer’s mind, at work again.

Even when D has had to go on road trips and I’ve had to miss a couple of my writing days, I know I’ll get back to it as soon as he’s home, so I’m not constantly wondering when I’m going have time to write. And this is such a relief. I have a schedule. I know when I’m going to do my work.

There is also something to be said for not writing until I’m exhausted. Each day when I leave the coffee shop to head home, I’m reluctant to go. I feel I could write for another two hours—or four. It’s hard to leave my work, but this means that I’m always excited to get back to it the next day.

I just wanted to let you know that it’s working. I’m working again, and I feel so much better. I’m officially de-funked.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is so exciting, Kate!!! Congratulations on your brilliant de-funking strategy — and execution. I’m sure your story will inspire many others to attempt the same in some way. I hope everyone else will share their successes and challenges too!

    You’re quite right on the laundry front. When it’s the real “you” who’s folding clothes, rather than just the beleaguered maid, it’s not a bad chore — even an enjoyable opportunity to multitask by thinking about your creative project, chatting with the kids, etc. Knowing that you are LIVING your creative self via a generally predictable schedule must be the surest way to be YOU, rather than The Maid. Bravo!

    September 8, 2008
  2. Cathy #

    Hallelujah!

    i generally have a couple of morning hours when everyone but baby is off to work, school, and mil to her morning exercise. it has freed me in a similar way, to keep in creative frame of mind. laundry is getting there for the above mentioned reasons, too. if you are living creatively, mulling novel or essays or blogs, looking at the way the morning light hits the grass out the window, the way the dog tip toes through the dew, then yes, even tasks like laundry, my own syssiphian mountain, take on a new pov.

    last week one am was taken by c’s ortho appt, one, labor day, one, mil was sick and didn’t go to exercise, and one, she doesn’t go every thurs, so i was a bit thwarted. thanks for the ability to look at why i didn’t get a lot done last week. this week is starting with another appt, for s, this time, so by tomorrow, cross fingers…..

    September 8, 2008
  3. good for you, kate, for carving out this time for yourself! i’m not there yet. my mornings are insane, then work all day, then back home to insanity. i mentioned a few posts ago that my van’s been acting up, and that’s actually been a little bit of a blessing as it gives me just a smidge of quiet time! once i take the girls to school, if my radio is not working that day (it appears to be an intermittent phenomenon), i get a silent ride to work. 25 minutes of just the thoughts in my head. that’s been kinda nice. years ago, i had a little 2-seater convertible and i remember now that there was nothing better to clear my head than putting the top down and turning the radio off….just the sound of the wish whooshing by. kinda hard to get that same effect in a minivan, but i’m working on it!

    September 8, 2008
  4. Thanks for the entry! I am new to this blog and new to making creativity a priority in my life. I was just thinking today that I NEED to dedicate some daily time to writing. It is so good for me. So thanks for your blog…it serves as a good reminder!

    Lisa

    September 8, 2008
  5. Ines #

    Thank you for telling what your life is like. And, congratulations on going back to the routine of your work. I am very familiar on how being a mother changes all aspects of life.

    September 12, 2008
  6. K #

    Kate–

    I followed your link from Mother Words and it was very cheering to read this. I need to be reminded that I write because writing makes me happy, whatever “happy” means. I’ve been living from mundane deadline to mundane deadline. Not that I don’t add something to my client’s project, they wouldn’t pay me otherwise, but it is not the same as what Leo Lerman calls “writing that illuminates.”

    September 12, 2008
  7. Bravo, Kate!

    I need to de-funk myself too. I’m writing constantly, but it’s often the blog or the book reviews. Now that I’ve finished the nonfiction book, I need to get back to my novel. I went from being eager to work on it every minute I could get to getting caught up in the day-to-day and placing it on the back burner. I’ll take your advice and reflections as inspiration to try to get back on track with my fiction too.

    September 14, 2008
  8. Thank you all! I’m so glad I’ve helped inspire some of you–this community has certainly helped inspire me and get me back on track with my writing. I’m still going strong–7:30-9 every weekday morning. And I’m still loving it! What fun to explore and think and get words down on the page. What a simple act, and how very satisfying it is! Thank you!

    September 22, 2008

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