“Routine” is a slippery term for me these days. I had gotten used to a fairly predictable pattern of living with our two-year-old. I could plan around her waking, napping, and bed time schedule. With the arrival of her baby brother, routine went out the window. Big sister still sticks to her schedule for the most part, but the baby eats when he wants to eat and wakes up anytime. Even if I only just fell asleep myself.
I tell myself that I’ll get back into exercising and writing and reading and doing all sorts of healthy and creative things once the baby starts having some kind of recognizable rhythm. But who am I kidding? Did I really commit to all of those things before he was born? Nope. So I can’t really blame him. Instead, I blame Opportunity Overdrive.
What’s Opportunity Overdrive? It’s when the stars align and I get a nice pocket of time all to myself to do whatever I want. It’s magical for about two seconds and then crashes into the toxic chemical reaction that happens when a pile of “coulds” meets an even bigger pile of “probably shoulds” and yanks you in fifty different directions until you explode.
I should clean the kitchen. Or maybe the bathroom. I could run an errand without needing to get anyone else in or out of the car. That would be nice. I could listen to some music with less than kid friendly lyrics. Or I could write. A blog post maybe. Or that novel I’m dying to write. Or I could just read a book. But I should shower. I could call my mom. I should sleep though. Gosh woman, this time is precious. Choose quickly before the kids wake up!
BOOM. I could and should do so many things. Most of the time I choose the housework, sleep, or binge watch something on Netflix. And a lot of the time I end the day feeling dissatisfied. It’s as if I didn’t accomplish anything, no matter what I chose to do.
Thanks to my husband’s aunt, I have discovered the Writing Window. We recently got the heartbreaking news that this aunt has breast cancer. She is a brilliantly creative woman and a wonderful writer. I have often been inspired by her artistic prowess and zest for life–a zest that she so enthusiastically spreads even though she had been dealt a tough hand even before her diagnosis. She writes an amazing blog called “Embracing Chaos” that I highly recommend and she has an admirable practice of trying to write every day between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. That hour is what I’m calling the Writing Window.
In her honor, I decided to send her positive creative vibes during her favorite writing time by doing some writing of my own between 6:00 and 7:00 every morning in September. I have no word count to reach. No subject I have to adhere to. I just have to write something in that window of time that isn’t a to do list. I can write for 5 minutes or 50. Quality and quantity have no place in the Writing Window. Writing just has to happen. That’s it. This simplicity makes it the perfect combatant for Opportunity Overdrive. At last, I am making space for continual creativity in my life again.
I know we’re already a week into September, but I invite you to join me. Pick a Writing Window for yourself–an hour that works for you–and make sure you write something–anything–within that window for the rest of the month. Maybe you’ll like it enough to continue beyond September. I hope you find this practice as revitalizing as I have. And while you’re add it, send some healing and positive creative vibes into the universe for other artists struggling with all of the craziness that life throws their way. We need to stick together in sickness, health, and everything in between.