Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Beauty of Flexibility

Flexibility. No, I'm not talking about the ability to touch your toes or do the splits - I can do neither - and I'm not talking about anything related to the writing craft.

Instead, I'm talking about your writing schedule and the need to make it flexible.

The longer I'm involved in this writing business, and the more writers I talk to, I understand that one method that works for me will be devastating to another writer and throw them off their game. So with that caveat out of the way, let me tell you why I think flexibility in a writing schedule is beautiful...

It involves this girl.

My daughter turned twelve last month. She just finished her first year of middle school. She's growing into a beautiful young lady and I completely adore her and love her with all my being.

Tuesday night, I had plans to write. I went on my evening walk and was about to hit the shower, then head on up to the office, when my daughter approached me. "Mom," she asked, "would you like to spend some time with me?"

My heart melted, and of course I said, "Absolutely." Any plans I had of writing went out the window. This was far more important, this moment, this time with my daughter who is growing so fast that sometimes I want to cry.

We played several games of UNO, laughed and talked. By the time 9:30 rolled around, I knew I wouldn't get much writing done - but I didn't care. I wrote about a half a page and that was fine.

Flexibility.

Last night, to my surprise, my daughter joined me on my walk. We always have a blast - her sense of humor and her incredible imagination are a delight to behold. When we got back, I was outside cooling down with my husband and she came out with her glove and softball. Suddenly, I was on my feet again, helping her with her pitching and her catching, and then the neighbor and my husband got involved, and we spent the next hour and a half playing softball in the backyard.

Did I have plans to write last night? Yes.

But this was more important.

I finally went inside around 9 p.m., took a shower, and  climbed into bed (I used some muscles I forgot I had while playing softball!) with my laptop and managed to write another page. It was enough.

That, my friends, is the beauty of flexibility. It's the ability to know when to put the writing aside for more important things. In this time when my daughter is growing so much and changing, I truly believe she needs her mama more than ever, more than even when she was a toddler. She needs me to be there for her emotionally and physically, and there is no way I will deny her that.

The writing can wait. It can be done in snatches of 30 minutes here and there. It can be done on lunch breaks at work, or during the weekend, or even when I really should go to bed after a long day, but decide to fight sleep and squeeze in just a few minutes of writing time.

The work will get done, some way, some how. It's important to me that it gets done. I'm not denying myself anything by putting it off for a few hours, not when I'm spending time with my daughter. There will come a day, not far from now, when she will fly from the nest and I will long for her sweet voice to ask me if I'd like to spend time with her.

Flexibility. Yes, it's a beautiful thing.

18 comments:

  1. Your beautiful and elegant post resonated deeply with me. My husband and children will always come first. They are the inspiration for why I write-- each precious memory collected gives breath to my paper heroes and heroines, and fuels the stories I put them into. We can control when we write, but the time we spend with the people we love has to be savored in the moment.

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    1. I love your comment, D.D. - it's so true.
      :-)

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  2. Flexibility and prioritizing seem to always go hand in hand. I think too many people believe their main priority is themselves. They want what they want without seeing the bigger picture. It’s a trait they seem to, in turn, pass on to their children. Growing up, even though my Mom worked full time she too mastered the art of flexibility. She never missed a school play and even found time to coach my grade school basketball team. As I got older, I saw firsthand how many children weren’t as lucky as me to have attentive parents. Years from now I bet your daughter is going to say “Mom do you remember those fun walks we use to take? I liked that.” It will just cement the fact that some times, things can wait.

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    1. That is what I hope for, that she will remember this and pass it on, in turn, to her own children. My mom was very attentive to my two brothers and I, and I think it's so very important, ESPECIALLY in this day and age of instant gratification.

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  3. Man, I couldn't have said it any better than D.D. Enjoy it now. Save up all those memories and then use them to make the fiction come alive :)

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  4. I didn't get started writing seriously until my eldest had left for college, my youngest in high school. This post succinctly summarizes why I'm so glad it went that way. One's children are only these ages RIGHT NOW. Hurray for you and your girl. The words will be there, no worries!

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    1. You're so right - they're only young once. In the whole scope of our lives, we have such a short, precious time with them under our wings.

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  5. What an inspiring post, written with deep love and conviction that your most important role is to your daughter. They really do grow up so fast that one has to always put them first - there will always be time for writing or art making - but not always time to play with your children. Beautifully written -

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  6. Your daughter is so pretty! Now that we're on summer vacation, I'm more flexible too. I get up before the kids and work in the morning. Sometimes, I fit it in at night, too. But I always give the kids my afternoons!

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    1. Thank you, Jill! She is really starting to blossom. :)

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  7. I totally agree and eventually that twelve year old daughter will graduate from highschool and be off to collage and you'll have so much time to write you won't know what to do with yourself. That's why writing takes a back seat to my kids.

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    1. Yep, you're so right. I know I will miss these days very soon!

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  8. You're so right. I love spending time with my daughter, but now she's seventeen and recently passed her driving test I hardly ever get to see her, or so it seems. Now is the time I should be making the most of her being out and get on with my writing.

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    1. Those days are not too far ahead with me, either. Once they start driving, I don't think they stay home very much!

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  9. I so agree Melissa. I don't have children but when it's a lovely day we will take a few hours and go and enjoy the weather. Work is always there to be done - the good weather is rare! and because of that we have wonderful memories.

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    1. I think it's so important to take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. :)

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