Making Time to Write

After an exhausting week away, a week that involved shepherding my Mom through her graceful death at home and getting my Dad set up to continue life on his own, I had counted on getting back to my writing the first work day home.

A petal from Mom's favorite amaryllis

Writing is my way of nurturing myself. When I can get quiet and focus on finding the pattern in words and sentences and narratives, I can also hear what my own inner voice has to say. So by “listening to” my writing, I am listening to myself.

Writing gives me the time and space to hear what’s going on inside me, to sort through and process the events, emotions, experiences, and concerns of my days. Right now, there’s a whole lot of unsorted stuff inside me, and that means my mental and emotional balance isn’t so good.

That first work day home, Richard, who held up well through a grueling week of helping with Mom’s hospice care, only to succumb to a sinus infection and serious brain fog after Mom died, was still sick, needing a lot of extra tending. He was slow, confused some of the time, and his short-term memory was definitely impaired. To be honest, his condition reminded me of the first few weeks after his last brain surgery, and I was pretty worried.

He seemed better that morning, so when I headed to my office for what I hoped would be a morning’s work on my current writing project, I felt good. Then Richard kept interrupting me, and I finally lost my patience and temper. (My hair may be going silver, but I still have a redhead’s fire.) We ended up spending several hours sorting things out.

We also decided Richard needed to talk to the Nurse Practitioner in neurosurgery at the VA Hospital in Denver. She suggested that his brain was likely suffering from the swelling of a sinus infection, made worse by the previous week’s stress. (Whew! I had envisioned the worst, as you can imagine.)

But there went the day. No writing, except for this blog post.

Sunrise over Salida

That, however, was enough to gift me with two critical realizations: First, I’ve been in caregiver mode for a long time now; it’s not easy to switch back to caring for me. Second, I know what I need to do to take care of me. Write.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just make time to write… (Like “Just say no!”–not so easy at all.)

Some days go well; some days just don’t. That’s life. What I have to remember is that if I don’t get to writing one day, I can write the next.

What gets in the way of your writing time? What do you need to do to make time to write?

11 responses to “Making Time to Write

  1. Caregiving, of course. But I am my own worst enemy when it comes to taking care of me. Focus, or refocusing, is the difficulty. My own demons tell me I’m being selfish, that writing should come fourth or fifth on the list, that it’s a waste of time. In my younger years, I listened to it. But now I fight the demons with the sword of personal healing. It is worth it.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. Thank you for your honesty and openness in posting this Susan. Both you and your husband have been through a very trying time. It’s not easy trying to re-claim time and space for your own needs. (I know all about that one!) Frustration and irritation are only one part of the story. The other side is guilt and burn-out. All are part and parcel of this roller-coaster we acll life. I practice Buddhist meditation in an attempt to level out the playing field, though it often seems to me to be a game with very few rules, or such as there are, keep changing!
    Take care of yourself and I shall be thinking of you.

  3. Selena, Person healing is a great reason to give yourself priority. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no “care” in “caregiver.” (No giving, either.) I’m glad that gives you the permission you need to write. Blessings back to you, too.

    Soulsister, I practice yoga to help keep my balance so that I can even notice my needs, and without it, I’d really be a mess! You’re right that those ups and downs, the pull of opposites, are very much a part of what makes up life. Without them, we’d be less than we are and can be. But as you say, that doesn’t make it easy to take care of ourselves. Thank you for your wise words.

  4. What gets in the way of my writing? Me. I’m working on that. I tend to go along with whoever said, “I don’t know what I think [feel] until I read what I wrote.” Even my most mundane writing tells me something about myself. You’re right in suggesting, Susan, that, given enough time, the extraordinary can become our “normal” and it takes some fancy footwork and balance to discover our new base. You’ve been in extraordinary circumstances for a long time so I hope you can find a new balance without taking the same amount of time. Thanks for this very honest and uplifting post. Sam

  5. Sam, I think that’s true for many of us: even our most mundane writing helps us know ourselves and see where we are at that moment in time. My writing voice and my inner voice are close kin, if not the same! I have been in extraordinary circumstances for a long time, and it’s very, very wearing. I hope life gives me a break before long, but if not, I’ll just figure a way to get myself what I need. Bless you!

  6. What gets in the way of my writing time?
    Well… like you, life. I too need to write to get back my balance. Recently I had been violently agressed by my landlady and received death threats from her… even over my Facebook and blog. As I am a very calm and peaceful person, it put me in state of shock. Since then, I was not able to write anymore… as if everything was stumbling and hiding in my head, in fear of more violence. Now, it is going better and I just started to write… after 2 years of silence. I want to write a book on this event… use it to expell these extremely negative emotions out of me and regain my legendary serenity.

    Make time to write?
    Put the key in the door, unhook the phone and isolate myself for a while 🙂 Hibernate with my pen, notebooks and laptop.

    I lost my mom recently also…. so I feel for you. Big hug to you and your dad.
    Please, excuse my writing accent… English is my second language… and still have some grammar problems 🙂

  7. What gets in the way of my writing is my day job because I am often mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the work day. I began working a flex schedule a couple of years ago where I work extra long days but have the opportunity to take every second Friday off as a flex day. Those Fridays are ALL MINE and I usually spend a good part of the day writing.

    I appreciate your sharing and letting us know that we are not alone in finding time to do what we need to do at times.

  8. When life gets overwhelming, anger feels threatening, responsibility lists roll like credits on the screen of my conscience and weariness of spirit threaten to rob and steal the words that want out, I cannot write. And yet when I walk down the hall and pass my writing space, creating space, picture, story and heart space, the healing draws me in, my chair and fleece wrap soothe and bring solace. A steaming cup of herbal tea, words of the past and the not yet future coax me, coax first one word then another. It doesn’t matter whether those words are to be shared or kept in sacred space…..pen, paper, computer, monitor…..healing sneaks in, comforting and encouraging words of a different place and time, muse reality. We must not be shushed or silenced, our words must hold one another up when we cannot meet or magically make the needs go away. If we submit, if we stop, then our daughters and their daughters might be afraid to speak. In our caregiving we must be caregiven. In that moment, that moment of care given….we can write.

  9. Xplorexpress, You are beautifully fluent in your second language! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be subjected to aggression right at home, from someone you trust as you did your landlady. Now that you’re writing again, I hope you are on the way to finding your inner peace again. Writing about it is a good way to expel those negative emotions and re-find your balance–mental, emotional, spiritual, even physical. So unplug the phone, lock the door, and write whenever you can.

    Linda, I love that you’ve got Fridays for yourself and your writing, and I admire your stamina in being able to work a flex-schedule and then still have energy to write (and be a wonderful grandmother too, as well as all the other things you do). I’m so glad you’re using your voice, in writing and in life.

    Cathy, What a lovely evocation of the care that writing gives to us. You are so right, “We must not be shushed or silenced,” both for ourselves and all the others who benefit from our words and stories, our daughters and their daughters among them. Our words matter!

  10. Susan, you have such a lovely and poignant way of getting to the core of matters — the ongoing balancing act we women often perform between caregiving for our loved ones and caregiving for ourselves (always last on the list).

    I tend to separate the writing I do for blogs and “assigned” writing from my journaling and creative writing activities. On days where all I get done is my “assigned” writing, I can feel frustrated. But I’ve found that when I give myself permission to see all my writing as creative — even writing for business — I slow down, express myself more authentically, and feel increased satisfaction. Of course, I still need to spend time journaling and writing creatively (that is my passion, after all). I just have to trust myself and take one day at a time.

  11. Amber, I think your point is a critical one: We’re the ones that define whether we’re succeeding at meeting our needs or not. Your ability to give yourself “permission” to see all of your writing as creative also gives you permission to bring your formidable creativity to bear on all of your writing, thus enriching and deepening those assigned pieces. Anytime you bring a more authentic voice and style to one part of your writing, it also enriches the rest. Learning to trust your writing voice and your judgment may be one of the most important lessons we learn.

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