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Putting An Electric Fence Around Your Writing Life

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Some things just need protecting. Your emotions, your money, your loved ones…and, your time. I put my money in the bank, I keep my kids close to my hip, and I (try to) no longer wear my heart on my sleeve.

But sometimes, my time seems to just get thrown into the air and scattered by the hurricane-force-winds of life.

I often feel in debt. Deep, deep debt with time.

So in my control freak attempts to manage and keep track, there are lists–there are lists of lists. Lists for each of the two schools I work at. Lists of house chores. Lists of money management. Lists of errands, and kid activities, and appointments, and…just the every thing. It is so easy to get buried in the Every Things. They have hooks called “NECESSARY” and claws deemed “IMPORTANT.” They attack me using swords of guilt, and defend their right to my time by wearing the armor of obligations. 

The Every-Things win a lot.

Writing often looks so small in the shadow of Every-Thing.

And it is small. Compared to children. Compared to the jobs that pay your bills, and the bills themselves. Compared to food, laundry, homework…a clean toilet. Writing looks so tiny.

It needs protection. It needs an electric fence. For me, that fence only has one power source–my will. There is only one person to defend my small parcel of time and space carved out for writing, and that person is me. It is getting up early, or staying up late, to write. It is saying, “No” to Every-Thing…at least when it is spreading like suburban sprawl and encroaching upon my already small refuge. It is making the decision that writing is not small, writing is big, writing is important, writing matters.

Even if, right now, it only matters to me. 

Because I matter to me.

How do you protect your writing?

35 Responses to Putting An Electric Fence Around Your Writing Life

  1. Andrew Leon says:

    I usually use a club. A large one. It doesn’t always work, and my little doggy is often able to defeat my large club. She’s powerfully cute, though.
    Oh, and there are kids.

  2. Great post! Love this part – “It is making the decision that writing is not small, writing is big, writing is important, writing matters.Even if, right now, it only matters to me. Because I matter to me.” I am extremely fortunate in that my husband is my biggest supporter and fan, and I never have to defend my writing time with him, the way I’ve had to do with other people who don’t get it, don’t respect it or don’t care.

  3. Thanks Madeline! And how wonderful to have such a close advocate in your corner. Hang on to that one, he sounds like a keeper 🙂

  4. Julie Luek says:

    I’ve made this comment before in other blogs, but it truly does help me guide my choices with time. I once read a book where the author suggested that there are many, many good things we can do with our time, a lot of better things, but really, only a few best things. Choose the best. Now that’s not always an easy directive– to figure out which demand is “best” but it has helped me think about all the demands with more discrimination.

  5. Thanks so much for joining me Rebecca. As an old woman I have no difficulty finding writing time, however, as I have an invalid husband and we do spend happy hours together, that does tend to eat into the time when there is a deadline to meet.

  6. You are so right that sometimes writing ends up at the bottom of the list…but I try so hard to schedule it in. I like your electric fence analogy.

  7. Great post, Rebecca. This is so true. It really is important to prioritize and then take control. There were some great Monty Python business videos about time management–with technique suggestions.

  8. I don’t protect it like I should. But that’s my fault. My kids are still young and needy, and my husband actually gets paid to write so I don’t mind my role in life. My writing takes a second chair but any kid in band can tell you; second chair ain’t so bad.

    • So true. I think as long as we are happy with the path we are on, stick to it. It’s only hard when you’re hiking one and realize halfway up you’d like to switch mountains.

  9. Tara Tyler says:

    we have to block off that precious me time! excellent post! i love my lists, they keep me productive, and my writing tasks are on there too =) its a necessity!

    • I’m a list junkie. It’s actually a trick I use to de stress when there are too many things and a limited amount of time. If I make a list, I know all the things exist and are somewhat planned.

  10. Lovely post, Rebecca. I agree that other priorities like to threaten my writing time, but I’ve put up that fence and I’m not moving it! Keep yours up too!

  11. Great question! I think by only sharing it with people who truly love and support me. I try not to let any negativity touch it.

  12. I try to set a time and stick to it each day, but sometimes the fence gets blown down. And then the next day I set it up and go to it again.

  13. HI, New follower. I’m also a morning person. Go us. My husband hates me till about 9am!

  14. Julie Luek says:

    New follower as well. And a Colorado gal too. I tried writing for the first time when I was in my early 30s, between career gigs and raising kids. My time and focus were split. Now in my.. ahem.. latter 40s, I’m able to shift my focus and time to concentrate on writing more. All that to say that there are definitely chapters in life that make guarding our writing time a little easier than others.

    • Yes! This! As my kids get a little older, I find it is a little easier. Only now I have this whole “career” thing that seems to suck up the most time 🙂 Being that you are also a CO gal, are you going to PPWC this year? I just signed up!

  15. Mornings are my sacred writing time, that way I have the rest of the day for the Every-thing. Donna Weaver sent me over here becasue I’m going to PPWC. Nice to meet you!

  16. Sometimes I have the whole day to write. Then the phone rings, partner has a list of things for me to do, dog needs walking, dinner needs preparing etc. etc. Then I don’t have any time at all. I don’t know how you do it. New follower. Nice to meet you.

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  18. Chris Edgar says:

    Hi, thanks for raising this interesting topic. For me, I find that, if it seems as if “shoulds” or obligations are “taking over” my time, and I’m not as engaged in my creative projects as I’m at least saying I want to be, it’s because I’m not taking my creativity seriously. I may project this attitude onto the world, saying “oh, other people don’t care whether I’m writing,” but that’s a disguise for my own failure to take it seriously and the need for me to reconnect with how important it really is to me.

    • Chris, this is very true. When I’m getting really irritable and petulant and put upon, that’s usually when I’m avoiding my writing (ALL BY MYSELF) and trying to (in my head) blame others and other things. It always, ALWAYS, only comes down to me.

  19. I quit my day job a few months ago to focus on family and writing…my two great loves!


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