Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Late for an Appointment with Myself

Summer offers so many opportunities, not the least of which is the opportunity not to be yoked to the clock. Consequently, I avoid making appointments during the summer if at all possible.


But lately, I've been feeling adrift, having difficulty enjoying long blocks of unscheduled time, feeling as though I should be accomplishing something. My to-do list lurks in the back of my mind, and though I don't expect myself to go through it at warp speed, I'm very aware that the end of summer looms.

One thing I know I should be accomplishing is the final chapters of my work-in-progress, but the closer I get to the end of the book, the more slowly I go. It's as if I'm digging my heels into the dust, refusing to move forward. Silly, really, because I know what my destination is. I'm unsure of the path, but since I'm not a writer who plans things out ahead of time, that's not new.

And then last night, the answer occurred to me out of nowhere (much like most of my plot twists). Well, maybe not out of nowhere - I had lunch with a friend - a fellow writer - and I think that perhaps the conversation jogged the solution loose in my brain.

I have three exceptions to the appointment rule: scheduled vacations, medical appointments and meetings with friends. And I've decided that what I needed to do was to make a fourth exception.

If I expect to get this done by the end of the summer, I need to make appointments with myself. Daily. As a working mom, I've become accustomed to squeezing writing into small blocks of unexpected time. So accustomed, in fact, that when large blocks present themselves, I hardly know what to do. Consequently, they pass me by, filling themselves with projects, errands and odds and ends that check things off my list, but make no progress toward one of the things that's most important to me.

Determined to fix this, I got out my calendar, gritted my teeth, and set appointments with myself for the rest of the week. It felt a little odd, but also oddly liberating. The remainder of each day could be filled with chores, shopping, projects, leisure reading, a movie with my daughter - whatever presented itself. But that time slot belonged to me, and during that time, everything else would need to be set aside.

A simple concept really - so simple that I'm loath to admit that I was late for my first appointment with myself. Doesn't matter, really. Eventually, I showed up, and in time to still allow myself the block of time I'd planned on, even if it started and ended at different points in time than I'd anticipated.

Characters, beware. We're moving forward.


  1. Oh I love this. I feel the same way so often. I am trying to MAKE myself have time for myself and my writing but it is hard, especially when you're a mother. I'm glad you shared this. Good luck with your appointments! I know you can do it!

  2. Thanks, Abby! I always think I'm going to write "later," and then days go by....so far (day 2), the plan is working!

  3. I think appointments with yourself are brilliant. Writing IS a job, and we need discipline to do it. Unlike a job where we go and show up everyday and someone keeps track if we show up or not, writing depends on us making it happen even when someone isn't watching.

  4. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to come up with what now seems to be an obvious solution!