Making time to write

Making time to write

I shut the door to my room, switch off the wifi on my laptop and turn my phone to aeroplane mode.

I set the timer and open my laptop for some focussed writing time.

Barely 30 seconds in, H pushes open my door. 

‘Can I eat?’ he asks.

I glance up at the clock. It’s 12.15. 
There’s over an hour to go for lunchtime.

I usually finish making lunch along with breakfast, with the exception of chapatis. They take ten minutes to make and I like to do it right before we sit to eat.

‘It’s early,’ I tell him.
‘I know, but I’m hungry.’
‘Take a glass of milk, we’ll eat at 1.30.’

My mind is on the timer ticking away.

He leaves reluctantly leaving my door open, I notice with annoyance.

I get back to the piece I’ve planned for the day. A minute later N enters with her book.

‘Am I disturbing you? Can I sit here and study?’

I want to snap at her.
‘I don’t care,’ I want to tell her, ‘I don’t care whether you sit here or not, just don’t talk to me, leave me alone for these few minutes.’

I hold myself back. It’s an innocent question, I know.

I pause the timer and shut my laptop.

‘Come and sit,’ I tell her gathering up my things, ‘I’ll go out.’
She senses my annoyance, ‘No don’t,’ she retracts rightaway, ‘I’ll go.’ 

With that she’s gone and I’m left with an unhappy, dissatisfied feeling. A vague guilt of some kind, of not having ‘been there’ for both the children. It is as real as it is irrational and illogical.

Over the past few days I have been trying to set aside time for focussed writing. It has been a bit of a struggle as the children are used to having me around all the time.

Despite my annoyance, I cannot blame them. The trouble with being at home all the time is that one tends to become over-available to everyone. One has plenty of time yet none of it is entirely ones own.

The kids have never been taught to respect my writing time, perhaps because I have never taken my writing seriously. They are my priority and shall always remain so. However, I do realise that I do not need to be at their beck and call. Definitely not now that they’re grown up enough.

Interestingly, when I’m in the middle of one of my editing assignments they leave me alone. However when it comes to writing, I have been used to doing it on the fly — an hour here, a half hour there — managing these short posts. They remain my connect to creativity. And most days, that is enough to keep me happy.

Somedays however, I wonder what it would be like if I had long uninterrupted days of writing. Would I write more? Would I write better? Would I fritter away time simply because I’d have too much of it? Would I tire of it and stop? Am I even capable of long-form writing?

There’s no way of finding out. Till I get to try it out some day.

Meanwhile, I’ll treasure the half hour/one hour I get, guard it well and (try to) keep the guilt away.

Do you struggle to find uninterrupted time for yourself? Specially with Covid keeping us all at home? How do you deal with it? Do share.

25 Replies to “Making time to write”

  1. Such a relatable post. It’s difficult. Writing especially. I manage to read and paint but for writing, we need uninterrupted time. I was feeling really bad, as I was not writing at all, so I installed Google docs on my phone and I really like working on it, as I don’t need any specific time to write. I can do it any time, even if it’s 200-300 words. Maybe it’s not a healthy habit but it’s convenient and working for me. The best thing is that the same (everything saved) file is available whenever I sit down to work on the desktop or laptop (which is rare these days). I have written some short stories and articles on the Google docs. I think I’ll start rewriting/editing my manuscript, too.
    Tarang recently put up this amazing post…Peiskos: A Short StoryMy Profile

  2. I know it can be stifling when all you want to do is to write and there are these interruptions. I can almost empathize with your guilt. But you only very rightly pointed out that no one has been guided into accepting your writing time off – so I am guessing unless you get to that, this dilemma will remain uncured for………………
    Shalzmojo recently put up this amazing post…The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak | Book Review |My Profile

  3. I can relate to your situation very well, Tulika. Here I was trying to read this post of yours for the past week with no success and today as I started to read finally, my husband came and asked, can we watch a movie. It’s the same with my kids. The moment I try to sit and do something they all feel the need to interrupt. I had to tell off my husband.
    Uninterrupted writing is a distant dream. Now it’s movie time I guess. 🙂
    Vinitha recently put up this amazing post…It doesn’t have to make sense always! #SoulfulSunday 11My Profile

  4. Oh Tulika, I so hear you! Even though I do not have children, I have so many other things to focus on. Writing took a terrible backseat over the past few months and I’m now finally consciously giving time to it. I usually write when I take a break from my office work and I usually am locked up in a room with my laptop then. Still, in spite of interruptions I find it hard to write at times. The mind is usually thinking of what to cook for dinner or if I have to run the vacuum cleaner and many other things! Also, since reading > writing to me, I prefer to do that instead at times.

    From this month on, I have decided to set aside time to write. As and when I can.
    Soumya recently put up this amazing post…Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth AcevedoMy Profile

    1. Consuming content is always easier than creating it, right? I also find it much easier to make time to read as compared to writing. I’m glad you’ve resolved to set time aside for it.

  5. The timer thing never works for me as there’s always someone who would need me just when I get into the groove. I sometimes end up writing at midnight with my toddler’s feet on my face.
    Don’t feel guilty about your writing time. Even though I typed that I know as a mom feeling guilty for not attending to family’s need is our second nature. But you have raised them well. They will understand. good luck with your writing.
    Rajlakshmi recently put up this amazing post…Zentangle Design – step by step | ArtworkMy Profile

    1. First, let me just say what an absolutely adorable distraction you have! That said, I do understand how hard it is to make time for writing with a toddler at home. Happy that late nights work for you.

  6. “I’m left with an unhappy, dissatisfied feeling. A vague guilt of some kind, of not having ‘been there’ for both the children. It is as real as it is irrational and illogical.” – reading these words, I had such a flashback memory of having this same feeling, when my children were young and ‘about.’ I have a quiet, retired life now, just my husband and I, and without a doubt, I have far fewer excuses to not write, to not get to my writing…and, still, there is less writing than I imagined. Having a clear schedule for my writing helps.

    1. Having a schedule is a good idea. My kids aren’t too young and I know they’ll understand once I begin to own my time and stop feeling guilty about keeping them away for that half hour or so.

  7. I no longer have children in my home, but I do have a husband and animals who interrupt me. I recently told my husband to leave me alone when I’m in my office w/ the door closed. It doesn’t solve the pet problem, however. Your post reminded me of an Erma Bombeck essay from the 1970s. She wrote about locking herself in the bathroom to escape her children. When they knocked in the door to ask where her purse is so they could get money, she responded, “I’m finding myself. If I don’t know who I am it’s a lead-pipe-cinch I don’t know where my purse is.” I’m smiling thinking about that now.
    Glenda Funk recently put up this amazing post…More Than a Decade of Blogging: What I’ve Learned and How I’ve Changed #SOL21My Profile

    1. Lol! I love Erma Bombeck’s writing. Mercifully I won’t need to lock myself up. I have started shutting the door to my room when I’m writing and it seems to be working.

  8. Tulika, your question is pertinent. I, too, struggle with finding quiet time. This line is powerful in light of what you said. “One has plenty of time yet none of it is entirely ones own.” In any given day, I try to savor a few stolen moments to write. Most times, I get lost in my writing and then, feel guilty for not doing the other myriad of tasks needed. We keep trying to figure it all out. Great meeting you.

    1. Thanks you Carol. That balance between writing and the myriad other tasks is important. Once we achieve that we’ll be in a happy space.

  9. I do most of my writing in the head and write in the night when all is quiet. More than my son, it is my students on MS Teams who keep distracting me till late with their genuine as well as made up concerns. And I give in to solving their doubts at odd hours too because Chemistry does get difficult to comprehend at times and it’s always good to get the doubt resolved as soon as possible. It was shooting for my YouTube channel that was difficult with all the noise and I have suspended my activities on that platform for the time being.
    Glad you have decided to prioritise your writing to some extent. Keep at it and don’t be guilty; you too deserve your ‘Me Time’.

    1. I’ve said it earlier too and I love how much you care for your students. Tell me more about your YouTube channel. Is there a link I can use to get to it?

  10. Yes, you. are right, being at home all the time means you are available to everyone – anytime.
    For me the best time is when all go to sleep. I don’t mind sleeping late, but that flow of thought never gets interrupted.

    1. Yeah, I see a lot of people who like to write at night. For me it’s the mornings that have been working better over the last few days.

  11. “One has plenty of time yet none of it is entirely ones own.”
    Here, too.
    I noticed this yesterday when I was trying to find a quiet space for some songwriting and recording .. everywhere I went, there was either a person or a dog, or the noise from a person or a dog.

  12. I think with writing, we just need to make time for it and fit it in our lives. I think the dream is always about having endless time to write and just write but I also think, it’s not necessarily that easy. Unless you have a clear project/deadline, then yes, having a writing retreat might help. But the rest, we just fit it in. I am grateful though, I live on my own. Despite that, what I’ve started doing is writing early in the morning, pretty much after I wake up and before I go to the gym. Because for me, work and work-brain gets in the way otherwise. I’m glad you’re making time to write!
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently put up this amazing post…Of Early Mornings and Writing habitsMy Profile

    1. I read your post Sanch on how you’d managed to get a writing schedule of sorts. And like I said, I’m working towards one too. I’m getting there for sure.

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