Taking The Day Off

This was my third weekend of what has been an extremely busy summer, social-wise, that I had nothing in particular to do. It was also the first where I felt like myself again, after spending that first weekend largely resting and the second still feeling sluggish. I looked forward to it. I planned on getting a ton of writing done.

I arose early on Saturday morning and did my housework (I'm an early morning cleaner), then settled down with my laptop at around 9:30AM. I transcribed dictation I'd spoken into my handheld the day before while taking a two-mile walk, which yielded a nice healthy number of pages. Then I set to creating more brilliant (or so I like to think) prose.

After two hours I'd created only a few paragraphs. I found myself surfing the Internet more than I was writing. Then I decided to go out and run some errands.

When I returned two hours later I still wasn't feeling it. What's wrong with you? I chided myself. This is the time you look forward to all week, when you try to squeeze two or three hours of writing each day. Having an entire afternoon to write, and you're not doing jack shit!

In the end I reached for a book I'd been reading, determined to finish it in spite of its flaws. At 5:30 I put the book down (not difficult to do at all) in order to join a book club who'd read my book Nothing But Trouble for a book discussion via telephone on my end, speakerphone on theirs (they're in another state.)

My husband had grilled some meat earlier, so we ate dinner. There was nothing on television, not even the Lifetime networks, so I picked up the book. I only had another 80 pages to read. I finished it. (Along with my earlier reading, that adds up to about two-and-a-half hours of my life that I'll never get back, but that's a post for another day.)

When I went to bed I was still annoyed with myself for farting the day away and set my alarm for 5AM, hoping Sunday would be better.

I woke up Sunday and wrote up a storm, in the wee hours of the morning and again in the afternoon, after we went out for a few hours.

So what's the difference? Why could I get nothing done on Saturday and so much on Sunday?

Because I needed a day off.

I write all the time. I usually get up between 5 and 5:45 on weekday mornings, depending on how late I was up the night before, and write before going to work. I spend most of my lunch hours writing (sometimes I'll have lunch with a friend). I spend downtime at work writing. I write at 8PM, when it's what I call "me time." I write while I'm driving, courtesy of a handheld recorder. That adds up to a lot of time spent writing (you might ask, with all that effort why is she only putting out a book or two a year? Because books don't just pour out of me like maple syrup out of a bottle, that's why. This shit is hard work, at least for me).

While there are days when I don't get to write much or not at all, that's because I'm busy doing other things and I'm usually too tired. That's not the same as taking a day off.

I didn't realize it at the time, but on Saturday I was simply too burned out to continue. I needed to take a break.

Now I feel good as new.


Patricia W. said...

Glad you feel good as new.

Everyone needs a break sometime. Even God rested.

The issue is really why we're amazed when we need rest, or why we feel the need to justify resting? I'm guilty of this all the time.

Take your day when you need it, and enjoy it!

Donna D said...

I wish I had your dedication and commitment, Bettye. I usually get sidelined from writing by reading (books, newspapers, blogs, etc.). I try to spend my lunch hour writing (it helps if I can slip into a conference room and away from my desk). But it never fails that I'll get calls (on my cell) during that hour that take me away from writing.

I have to figure out a way to carve some time out at home to commit to writing. I don't have a handheld recorder, mainly because I suck at transcribing. But I definitely need to become more disciplined where my writing is concerned.

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Pat! I feel fabulous and very excited about my output yesterday.

Donna, instead of trying to carve out time for writing, try cutting down on everything else. I read a bunch of blogs, but I don't spend any more than 20 minutes out of a day doing it. I usually limit reading to 30 minutes a day, and many days go by without my reading at all, which is why I get to read so few books.

Writing is up there on my priority list, second only to family (and 'family' for me includes everything related to home.)


Gwyneth Bolton said...

This shit is hard work...


I'll co-sign on that. And also, it's important to take a day off every now and then. If you don't eventually your mind and body will make you.


bettye griffin said...

And I sure don't want to wait for the mind and/or body to give out, Gwyneth!