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First the Writing, Then the Laundry

Yesterday afternoon I had a brilliant idea: I called my friend Rebecca to see if she wanted to have a writer’s date at the library. Miraculously, she was available and enthusiastic about the idea. As I write this, we are sharing a large round table tucked into a corner of the Oakton Library. The table is next to a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows that faces the parking lot, and the sun is streaming in, casting bands of shadow onto the table.

Rebecca is laser-focused on her iPad, on which she is writing a memoir. She sits with her chin in her hand, sighing occasionally. I wonder if she’s stuck, but I don’t ask. I have just typed up a poem that I wrote during the writing mini-retreat I led in July, and I think it’s pretty good. I have already daydreamed a little about trying to get it published somewhere, but that’s not how I want to spend my time right now.

To be honest, it’s just a relief to write. Before we came to the library, Rebecca and I met at Starbucks to discuss our goals for the writing session (plus I wanted a pumpkin scone—they’re back!). She wanted to work more on her memoir, and I wanted to type up the poem and get a few blog posts in the pipeline, as I have fallen behind on my goal of three a month lately. But then we moved on to what was really on our minds: the challenge of giving yourself permission to take the time to write when your partner is putting in long hours at the office and you are holding down the fort at home. It’s a self-imposed restriction, but those are just as powerful—if not more so—than anything external.

Rebecca and I are not alone in this struggle to give priority to the creative stirrings of our souls. I believe every writer who is partnered or has a family struggles with this to some extent, especially if that writer is a woman. Yet a little piece of us dies every time we choose laundry, or errands, or making dinner over writing—or feel like we have nothing left after putting in a full day at the office, fighting rush hour traffic, and then doing the above. It doesn’t mean those things aren’t important, but they should come after we have fed the longings of our soul, not before. Writing is something we are called to, and we must find a way to give it the priority it deserves.

If you find yourself nodding in recognition, I ask you: What is one thing you could do to honor your call to the writing life? Whatever it is, make the commitment. Your creative soul will thank you.

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