I cradle the phone on my shoulder while making an omelet for breakfast, and trying to think through a grocery list when my husband, Bo, walks in the front door. The senior pastor of our church, he’s already been at work for a couple of hours. I tend to ease into my mornings, while he jump-starts his. As soon as he enters the kitchen, he mouths to me that he needs to talk.
“Hey listen, Bo just came in and he needs something. Can I call you back in a few minutes?” I ask into the phone. After hearing her okay, I end the call and flip my eggs.
“What’s up?” I say as I grab a pen and jot another item on my list.
“I need to you go to a meeting with me in an hour.”
I think through all the items on my to-do list and silence a groan. “Why?”
“I’m meeting a woman and I need you along.”
I understand and appreciate his sensitivity to the situation. But I needed to write. My time is limited and a deadline looms. But I say, “Sure, I’ll meet you there.”
After the meeting, I decide to drive to Wal-Mart since I need to pick up a few things and I’m already out of the house. By the time I pull back into the driveway, it’s nearing 1:00 and I haven’t eaten lunch. At least we can have left-over beef stew for supper before choir practice tonight and I don’t have to spend an hour cooking, I think. Cooking is not my favorite activity.
* * *
The example above is just a morning schedule gone awry. Sometimes entire days, or even several days in a row, become a scheduling tangle and no writing happens, or very little. We certainly don’t meet whatever goals we set for the timeframe.
How do you deal with unforeseen setbacks? Do they knock you so off-kilter that you find it difficult to return to a routine? Or do they make you hungry for a few days to do nothing except write? Does your stress level rise during the time off, only to then keep you from being able to focus when you return to the keyboard?
My life is unpredictable as a pastor’s wife. Often, just when I think I have an entire day to write, something comes up in the middle of it. But I have discovered that an idea will “simmer” in the back of my mind while I deal with distractions and interruptions. When I am able to write again, the words just flow off my fingertips.
Escape or Writing Cave
Sometimes, I need to take drastic measures and go out of town to re-gain control of my writing time. I am fortunate to own a place of escape. But for those who don’t, you might try making what some writers call their writing cave. It is a place away from daily distractions where they can be alone. It might be a basement room, or it might be the back porch. But it is a place of solitude. When entering the writing cave, social media is put away and the phone silenced.
A couple of months ago, I spent time in Denver caring for my school-age grandson. The days alone were a perfect writing retreat. I’m already longing for a few days like that again. None are on the calendar, but I can retreat to a writing cave.
What does your favorite writing space look like? Where is it? Do you keep it clear of distractions? Each of us will define “distractions” a bit differently from anyone else, but we know what lures us off-focus. Whatever they are for you, be sure to keep them out of your writing cave.
* * *
I did find my writing groove that afternoon. When I reviewed what was in my draft from the previous day, I realized the time away gave me a fresh perspective. God used the downtime to work even though I was unaware. The final product is the message God planned all along.