by Maggie Marr
I know there is the mythic vision of the solitary writer hunched over a rickety desk in their drafty loft scribbling furiously with their feathered pen inking their carefully chosen words onto parchment. There are even those writers, still, that when reticently interviewed speak of going off to their cabin in the woods, office without internet or hidden flat of which not even their closest family and friends know of its location. Unbothered by the drudgeries of daily life they toil relentlessly pulling out their hair for the correct order of words that will make their latest work another literary masterpiece.
That isn't my life.
As I write this blog I am fixing breakfast, folding laundry, helping my eldest with homework and my youngest with stickers...oh and retiling the bathroom with my toes. I exaggerate. A bit. But my life, including my writer life, involves the constant of family and the needs of my family and deadlines and writing and producing and tv...the list goes on and on and on. Sure I have a preternatural ability to live in a near bio-hazard of a home. Shoes in the center of the living room floor? No problem. Ignore them. Papers all over the kitchen table? Didn't see them. Dishes in the sink? Can't look at them. This ability to ignore the bits of life that would eat away at my writing time is a necessity. Otherwise how would I ever meet a writing deadline? There are two analogies that I received early in my career that I go back to over and over when I feel guilty about the six foot mountain of laundry.
First, you have a finite amount of time in each day. 24 hours. Everyone gets it. Visualize the day as a mason jar-a clear glass jar. Now what are the things you have to accomplish. Really must do or emergency crews, your parents, or perhaps child services will arrive at your home. For some authors it is their day job, for others it is taking care of a parent for part of the day, some have children to get to school. One of these must-do things should always be writing. Think of those must do events as rocks. You get to place 4 in your mason jar. Now you have space in your jar around the rocks but it is little bits and pieces of space 5, 10, 15 minute increments of time here and there. That is the part of day you will fill with sand...for me sand entails loading the dishwasher, folding a load of laundry, scrubbing the toilet...I do these things in fifteen minute increments around the big rocks of my day. Because I must get in my writing.
Second. Think of yourself as a juggler. Any Mom I know will understand this analogy. You have a dozen balls you are trying to keep in the air at any given time. Children. Husband. Job. Writing. Parents. Bills. Room mom. Car maintenance. Anything that you have got to take care of. Now here's the thing; some of those balls that you are trying to keep up in the air are made of rubber and some are made of glass. Getting an oil change for the car is a rubber ball. Your daughter's musical recital is glass. Meaning if you drop the oil change this week well that baby will bounce right up into the air for next week. You miss the recital? Well hell you've just shattered a little girl's heart and purchased fifty thousand dollars in therapy.
I guess this all comes down to prioritizing our lives. Writing must be a priority similar to showering and brushing your teeth. Things that we feel are important get done. Take the time to write. Whether it be four hours or thirty minutes. Demand the time for yourself and know that you deserve it. Realize that you can squeeze time in amidst life, in fact, oftentimes you'll have to. Sitting in the car waiting for soccer practice to end? Time to edit that last chapter. Standing waiting for the train? Pull out a spiral notebook and write down some ideas for the second act.
Me? I'm happy to live with all the dust bunnies as long as they leave me alone to dance with my words.
Please leave a comment and tell me all about your glass balls and the juggling routine that keeps it all in the air.
Maggie Marr is the author of Hollywood Girls Club and Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club. She is currently working on a Young Adult trilogy. She also writes for film and tv. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. You can follow her and her glass balls at www.maggiemarr.com