Escaping to Write

I don’t make time to write. I make time to run . . . away.

Lately that’s the only way I can get anything done.

Like most of my still-waiting-to-become-career-novelist friends, every day is a balancing act between competing responsibilities. I work from home, I’m the primary care giver for my two children, and I really want to make this literary thing happen. Each of these areas has its own agenda, and rarely do they work in concert.

In the past, I’ve done a decent job of compartmentalizing things. When the kids were home, I’d focus on their needs. But when the munchkins were at school, I’d divide my time between writing fiction, writing for work, and chores around the house. Lately, though, things have kind of fallen apart.

I’m not sure what exactly has changed internally, but for whatever reason, I have had absolutely no discipline when it comes to dividing my time. And the thing that has suffered the most has been my writing.

When I sit at the keyboard these days, I feel guilty for working on fiction. Instead, I think about the loads of laundry I could be doing or the boxes that still need unpacking after our relocation in August. I become very aware that I could be using that time to get ahead on my technical writing work, something that I actually get paid for as opposed to a preoccupation that, as of yet, has resulted in no tangible dividends.

These kinds of thoughts stifle creativity, and they send me fleeing my writing desk.

(As I write this, it occurs to me that I might have a clue as to what’s going on. Near the end of last year, I completed a novel that I’d spent a very long time writing. Now I’m working on new material, and it’s in that early, nebulous stage where I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say or where it’s going. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and nobody likes to struggle. So I guess the truth is I’m avoiding the new stuff.)

Despite these recent setbacks, I have found a workaround. I leave the house.

If I’m not within walking distance of other things that need doing, my mind apparently thinks it’s okay to play. So I’ve been haunting local libraries and pastry-type places and the school halls outside my son’s evening drama class. Most any place will do so long as it’s away from home and doesn’t offer a free Wi-Fi connection. (Because email, Facebook, and Twitter are basically the devil when you’re trying to get anything done.)

So far it’s working. Words are actually appearing on the page, even though the efforts are still anemic and halting at this point. I haven’t entirely worked out the new novel’s plot yet, but I think that’ll come. Eventually I’ll get enough pages down, and I’ll be able to see an outline of the whole thing. Then I can throw out everything I’ve written so far and start over and write through to the end.

(The process giveth and the process taketh away. And then hopefully it giveth again.)

But until that happens, I will continue to run away from the house. I will escape the guilt that keeps me bound up. I have writing to do, and no amount of clean laundry will help me hammer out this plot.

Larry Jenkins is an aspiring Word Pimp. Has laptop, will travel. Let's make this happen, people.


  • Aiona says:

    I am sort of the same but switched around a bit. I finished a novella in December, and am stalling on editing, but already several chapters into a new book. I hear ya about the laundry. Here’s hoping our kids invent laundry bots. I had better get writing, so I can justify leaving the inventing to them! And you wouldn’t happen to be related to Leroy Jenkins, would you?

  • Larry Jenkins says:


    No relation to Leroy. Sorry.

    As far as your completed book goes, I’d say let it sit. The longer you wait to edit it, the newer that manuscript will look to you when you finally return. Distance is a good thing.

    And the pages you’re writing now will only strengthen that previous book, so sail on, sailor.

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