On busyness vs. accountability


Early in July, I became the owner of a home that will give our family the space we’ve long needed. I also became a de facto general contractor. My fix-it list is rapidly growing; my writing page count is not.

I’ve lined up much-needed professional cleaners, assessed where we want plumbing and regrouting done. We also discovered the furnace blower died violently between final inspection and closing, so we can’t run the air conditioner or even the fan until that’s replaced. There’s still a painter to hire and cabinetry to repair. The old carpeting has been torn out, and new hardwood is being laid in its place.

How easily non-writing work can fill the time we set aside precisely for the page — especially when such busyness sometimes gives us more sense of accomplishment on some days than the few paragraphs we may add to a work in progress. In the six weeks between making an offer and signing our loan, I barely squeezed in 3.5 interviews for my book. Now, with the renovation in full swing, I’m at best able to review the recordings to process the contents and decide what questions to ask next. It feels like millimeters of movement, in particular contrast with the yards of board our flooring folks installed almost overnight!

But supporting ourselves as writers means finding ways to engage with the process of writing, even when words — and time — elude us. No, annotating a conversation doesn’t feel the same as putting my own original thoughts on paper. But this is staying in practice, holding myself accountable to the work by maintaining a dialogue with my project. You’re important to me, I remind my story with these small attentions. And when this house is whole again, you too will have room to grow.

I’ll be posting updates on Instagram stories over the next few weeks as the work of writing interleaves with the work of creating our new home. The renovation has me thinking in metaphors for the writing process, as always. What processes in your life can you draw parallels to that invite reflection on your creative practice? How do you use in-between moments for your creative practice when you lack uninterrupted time for more sustained work? Share your experiences with me by clicking the button below, and follow me @draftcreativecoaching for more accountability support.