best laid plans · writing

Up with the chickens, writing

My alarm buzzed me awake yesterday morning at 5:30. I hopped up and into the slippers I’d placed just so, grabbed my robe from behind the door, and crept downstairs. I made a coffee (double Americano, with cream), grabbed my laptop and my lap desk, and sneaked quietly onto the porch.

Between 5:45 and 6:45, I wrote. I drank my coffee and I thought about digital photography and temporality, through my fingers, generating words.

I showered, woke up my family, we all got ready, I got my daughter on the bus to grade three, I passed the Starbucks, I went to campus. I spent the entire rest of the day in meetings. Department officers meeting. Signing people’s forms. Meeting with the graduate coordinator who keeps me on track. Meeting with a new colleague to orient her to the department. Meeting with students. One phone meeting and a bunch of email. I don’t know when I’ll get my syllabus printed, and I don’t know if I’m going to get the quizzes online as far ahead of time as I would have liked.

But I got my writing done.

It has to come first. I am trying–even as I reprep my whole first year course, even as I wrap my head around the Grad Chair job and try to manage the million forms and emails and questions from students–trying to remember that research is a substantial part of my job. And that I have to do it, that I want to do it.

For me, the solution is writing for an hour before everyone gets up. Many times, I’ll be able to write for an hour or so once I get to the office, but sometimes, like graduate orientation week when I’m the Grad Chair? No. But I’ve made a decision: the writing has to happen, and I will make it happen.

If I’m being perfectly honest with you, I made a grand start yesterday, the day after Labour Day, because the end of the summer got away from me. I let the writing slide in a haze of meetings and emails and syllabi and problems and sunshine and dentist appointments and hair cuts. And if I’m being even more honest, I’ll say that between 5:45 and 6:45 yesterday, I wrote for about 25 minutes on digital photography, and spent the other 35 minutes writing up the teaching reports for my yoga teacher training homework package. So I’m not some kind of superwoman. I’m a flawed writer, prone to drifting away from my research, and after a couple of weeks away from the project, I wasn’t able to sustain a full hour of writing on my selfies chapter. But today was better. And tomorrow will be better still.

I know I’ll fail again–sleep in, accidentally spend the hour doing email, fart around on Facebook, do some grading. But I commit to trying. Trying every day, even or especially after the days where I don’t meet my goals.

I’m going to get my writing done, by applying the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair. Every day. Because otherwise, it’s not going to get done.

What’s your plan to get your writing done this semester? How are you working around teaching and commuting, or child care, or admin work, or a compelling new hobby, or a health crisis?

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