by Camela Thompson
It has been one month and one day since I decided to take an extended break from work. I can't say that I regret a minute of it. The day I made the decision, I made a list of all of the things I've wanted to take care of in the house but couldn't get to. At first, I felt guilty if I didn't make progress on my list items before sitting down to write.
Before the break, my day looked something like this:
6AM: WAKE UP
7:00: Walk the dog
7:30: Finish getting ready for work
7:50: RUN TO THE BUS!
8:35: Sneak to my desk and pretend I got there five minutes earlier
12:25: Back to work
5:10: RUN TO THE BUS!
6:25: Get home and stare at Television
7:00: Have food appear in front of face
8:00: Marketing/schedule posts for next day
The highlight of my working day...seeing these two at the end
Where did the writing go? I couldn't figure that out. I tried writing on the bus, but more often than not there was standing room only. I tried writing during the thirty minute lunch break, but I spent that time figuring out where I was in the plot and got in a couple hundred words. When I got home, I needed the time I had to unwind and eat.
Not writing stressed me out. Not having the time to write except on weekends just wasn't working for me. I would have been able to figure out a better schedule eventually, but it would have been at a steep cost. I would have to give up working out and spend my spare minutes in the morning writing. Wake up a couple hours earlier. I made it work when I was getting up at 4:30. Getting home by three in the afternoon left me time to walk the dog, feed her, feed us, and then ignore my husband for a few hours while I wrote. This job was less flexible about schedule, so the writing would have been first thing in the morning instead.
For the last two years, writing slowly became a priority. Whenever a time consuming hobby morphs into another job, more time goes out the window. Certain things needed to go. Non-essential cleaning, yard work, complex meals. If I didn't do them, they didn't get done at all. I'm not trying to throw my husband under the bus - he still did plenty. He made sure dishes made it into the dishwasher so we had things to eat on, he does the laundry, and vacuumed if I asked nicely. I kept the bathrooms and kitchen clean, but that was the extent of my priority list. Paperwork piled high on the dining room table. I didn't stay on top of my husband's propensity for being a pack rat. Things started piling up. LIterally.
Part of someone's extensive shoe collection
When I first decided to take a break, I had no idea how many things had slid into the periphery. The next morning was a wake up call. That first week - I spent cleaning. Eventually, I had to stop and work up a plan to make things more manageable. Each week, I tackle a room in the house and break it up into sections. I write when I feel the words are ready, and I use cleaning as a time to work through plot and character issues. Scrubbing and sorting lets my mind work through problems. A day out of the week is spent on yard work.
What still surprises me is how easy it is to avoid writing altogether. There is so much to do, I could easily spend the next two months making the yard presentable along with sorting my entire house. I decided exercise needed to go beyond long walks with the dog and have started a Couch to 5k program. The dog consistently opts out, and I have to cajole her into the long walk. She is rather fantastic at helping me write, though.
Now days look more like this:
8AM: Wake up to dog hitting me on the head with her paw
8:10: Feed dog
8:20: Clean Kitchen
10:30: Write or clean
11:30: Walk Dog
12:00: Go for run
1:00: Shower & Eat
2:00: Run Errands
5:00: Start Dinner
6:00: Spend time with husband
9:00: Write again or watch TV
11:00 Go to bed
I thought I would spend all day writing. I think it will become more of a priority as this break nears an end, but for now, I'm just trying to be okay with what I get done in a day.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.