Swapping in Writing

Monday, July 22, 2013
Like everyone else in the world, I have bemoaned the fact that there are not enough hours in the day. Enough hours to go to my 9 to 5, grocery shop, organize 25 years of family photographs, help my daughter pack for college, go to percussion practice (my son’s practice, not mine),  write and just plain breathe. And guess what gets cut from the to-do list most frequently? Yes, I can hear you all answering in unision: writing. Again and again I promise myself to put writing first and again and again I break that promise. Until Weight Watchers.

Recently, a friend explained to me how Weight Watchers works. You get a certain amount of points per day, different foods “cost” different amounts of points and when you used up all your points you’re done eating for the day. So she got to come to my daughter’s graduation party last month and eat a homemade pierogie.  She didn’t eat much else but she got that all important (to her) pierogie. So each member of Weight Watchers can tailor his or her eating to what they really need. If they really need a small cone of ice cream, they eat a salad for lunch and supper. They swap foods around until the points even out.

I realized life is like that. The minutes of our day are the points and everything we need to do is the food. I really need to write but find myself waiting for a block of time to magically appear. Usually by the end of the day when everything else is finished (as finished as my days ever get), it’s either too late or I’m just too tired and I say “Forget it. Tomorrow.” I need to swap writing into my life.

I found half an hour to swap writing into my life. I lunch for half an hour each day. Fifteen minutes I spend actually eating and fifteen minutes leafing through the newspaper or the magazines left in our lunch room. I’ve decided if I want to read I’ll do it during the first fifteen minutes while I eat leaving the last fifteen minutes for writing. Although I usually cook supper, I also clear the table. I’ve gotten my family on board to swap out those fifteen minutes of spooning leftovers into containers, loading the dishwasher and cleaning the counters for writing time.

Like Weight Watchers, swapping time takes some determination. In the beginning I found myself watching my family clear the table. Finally they convinced me this is not a chore that needs mom supervision. It is not brain surgery. It is not even laundry sorting or algebra homework. They CAN do it.

You might be saying, “Fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there…how will that ever add up?” The truth is, I’m less likely to jump into something home or family related if I know I only have fifteen minutes. Instead of saying to myself, “Gee, I could be using this hour I set aside for writing to do fill-in-the-blank.” I say, “Gee, I only have fifteen minutes. Not enough time to really start anything else.” Maybe as the days go by I’ll find another fifteen minutes here or there. But for now I’d just like to say thank you to the Weight Watchers people. Maybe I’ll lose enough chores to finally finish that novel.


Unknown said...

Having tried Weigh Watchers (among many plans) I appreciate this comparison. It really is a matter of swapping and choosing sometimes.

BECKY said...

Great post, Jodi! Why is it we all seem to have the same problem? :) Your idea sounds like a possible winner for me! I'll let ya know! :)

Margo Dill said...

I say find some more chores to swap out--how about folding the laundry--that way you won't have pink socks if they sort it wrong, but how can they mess up the folding? :) Then you might have 45 minutes or even an hour! In all seriousness, I agree that little chunks of writing actually work on novels. I wrote an entire middle-grade first draft that way last fall. :)

LuAnn Schindler said...

How about swapping the grandkids for writing time? :) They like to ride in the tractor with grandpa and feed the dairy cows and that gives me an hour of uninterrupted writing when they are here.

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