Each Monday, between the hours of 9am and 12pm, I commit myself.
Locked in a soundproof cell with padded walls is the place I am best able to find my sanity and lose my mind simultaneously.
For 3 whole blissful hours straight, I write.
Ok, so I may be exagerating a little about the padded call for the sake of my ‘asylum’ metaphor…but we should never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?
My cell is one of the Quiet Rooms at the fantastic new Wynnum Library on Florence Street. The walls are padded in a pleasantly pastel wallpaper. The rooms are truly quite soundproof…not that other spaces in the Wynnum Library are particularly raucous.
This place has become my writing asylum, my creative haven over the past few months. It’s peaceful and safe and conducive to my work. And the gorgeous librarians are fully supportive of the giant cup of coffee I haul in with my backpack crammed full of laptop, iPad and story notes scribbled on a motley collection of papers each Monday morning.
We all need a place like this. Where we feel like we belong. Where we are free to do the work that brings peace to our hearts. Even if it’s just for 3 hours, once a week.
Now I get that 3 uninterrupted hours isn’t going to sound like much to anyone other than mothers of young children. But holy-mother-of-everything-that-is-good-in-this-world. Give a mother of small children 3 hours to focus on a single task and watch her kick some goals.
I own that it is my choice that my work time and writing time are limited these days. I have chosen to work odd hours from home and work around my kids until they are 3 or 4 and are ready for Kindy a couple of days a week, which means that Miss 2 is still my fairly constant companion. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have A LOT of regular loving support from my parents in terms of help with the kids to cover meetings and appointments, but they are active retirees with full and exciting lives and I’m conscious of not abusing their adoration for their grandchildren by over-asking for babysitting favours or trying to lock them into any fixed arrangement. My husband is also wonderfully supportive, but he has a business of his own to run and a hard enough time trying to carve out time for himself. Finding an independent solution in order to create regular dedicated writing time was important to me.
The point being, these 3 precious hours on Monday mornings are the only permanently fixed time in my week I have completely to myself at this point in my life. This time is precious and I protect it more fiercely than the emergency block of dark chocolate hidden in the pantry. I miss it like a limb on occasions when I cheat myself of it or feel that I need to prioritise something or someone else above it, which of course sometimes needs to happen. Because life happens. And that’s ok.
This practice has made a huge difference to my writing focus and productivity. It helps me set my week up for success, knowing that I have made a stride towards the big important goal I’ve set myself for this year right at the start of my week, before the 1001 inevitable distractions and other commitments of the week set in. Between running my own consultancy, raising two small humans, being a decent wife, meeting family/volunteering/social/swimming lesson commitments and (far more infrequently that he or I would like) trying to help my husband with aspects of our other business…distractions and other commitments are in good supply.
Slowly but surely I think these 3 little hours are making me not only a better writer, but a better person.
What’s important about these 3 hours is that I am actively investing in myself and the future that I want. That pursuit gives me a more peaceful heart.
It’s important that I have more skin in the becoming-a-published-author game now. I’m investing financially by paying the right person to look after Miss 2 on Monday mornings as well as by turning down 3 hours worth of paid work from clients so that I don’t over commit myself (that one was hard lesson to learn and is still hard to follow through on). I’m investing this time exclusively writing that I could easily spend on other things – paid work, house work, getting a much-needed pedicure…
This is what works for me, for now. To get cracking on chasing this dream of mine without waiting for ‘one day’. I will blink and my children will be in school and I will have more time to play with.
Of course I find other snippets of time to write. Mostly in the evenings after the children are in bed and my actual paid work commitments have been met, or when Miss 2 passes out on a midday drive and there is a cheeky hour before Kindy pick up time for Mr 4. I pull into our driveway, keep the car running, grab the laptop and go for it. But those stolen moments are bonuses. They are adrenaline-fuelled burst of fire writing and could be interrupted at any moment.
Like now. As I write this post I am sitting on our back deck, which boasts the only table in our lovely little shoebox of a house (what once was my home office is now my daughter’s bedroom). It’s a stunning Sunday afternoon and my husband sits sorting out his fishing gear at the opposite end of said table, contemplating mowing the lawn. The children have been playing fairly amicably in the back yard making ‘art’ with a winning combination of paints, chalk, mud and strawberry yoghurt. Mr 4 has just alerted me to the fact that Miss 2 is now licking a delicious muddy chalk concoction and body painting herself with the yoghurt. It’s time to sign off. And that’s ok. Because tomorrow is Monday, my favourite day of the week. Asylum day.
So here’s to committing ourselves to the pursuit of things that are truly important to us. It’s on those journeys that we discover a little bit more about what we’re made of.