Writing & The Art of Letting Go

My Living Room.
My Living Room, On A Good Day.

Earlier this week, Jason Howell, creator of The Howlarium posed the question: When, in writing or in life, is saying “F**k it!” the real medicine?

As one who has reached the ‘fuck it’ zone more times than I can count, I was coming up blank with a response. Mostly because these instances where I’ve thrown my hands up and said, “Screw it!” have come when I’m stuck in traffic and can’t avoid arriving late to whatever it is I’m transversing to. Not all that inspiring and definitely not directed towards writing.

I sat down to think about Jason’s question in my messy house, littered with toys, cookie crumbs, dirty dishes and unfolded laundry when the answer hit me.

Since living on my own, I have had this nagging sensation around leaving housework undone. The dishes in the sink practically moan with neglect and the pile of unfolded shirts and jeans slither in their basket like restless snakes ready to strike. But now, as a stay-at-home parent, trying to get a writing career off the ground, I have had to let those nagging feelings of untended household duties go in lieu of writing.

Let’s face it, the dirty dishes will still be there in a few hours or in the morning, the heap in the laundry basket will be a little wrinkled, but still be wearable, and taking care of the unkempt carpet with its explosion of food bits and preschool shenanigans isn’t a life and death situation.

It’s all about priorities. What do I value more, keeping my house tidy, which is a complete exercise in futility, or sitting down with the precious few hours I have during naptime or after the little one is in bed for the night to get my ideas down? The dirt can wait. Ideas are fleeting and putting off capturing them is the worst thing you can do.

If you too are a stay-at-home parent, I have discovered a few time-saving tips that have helped me keep my sanity and get a little writing done during my “downtime”.

1. Do what you can while the kids are awake, and if possible, put those little hands to work. This can go for laundry, mopping, washing dishes, dusting, vacuuming, or toy pickup. If you wait until they’re either sleeping or at school to get the housework done, you’ll never have any time to write.

2. Get a hand vacuum. I can’t express how much time having a small hand vac has saved me. They’re great for getting those pesky mealtime crumbs that litter the carpet, kitchen, stroller, or car seat. I hate pulling out the big vacuum, especially since my son loves to “help” me by turning it off and on, retracting the cord while it’s plugged in, and riding on it.

3. Keep the sink full of soapy water to wash as you go. If you’re like me, you have to wash dishes by hand. My last apartment had a dishwasher, so not having one is like going back to a 28k modem after having a T3 connection. It sucks. To minimize my time spent standing at the sink slogging through an elbow deep pile of dirty plates, I do them as I go.

I would love to hear other time-saving tips you’ve come up with. Please share them in the comments below. And as always, check out Jason’s site and the moving responses he gets for his thought-provoking questions.

Cynthia Varady

Cynthia Varady

Cynthia Varady is an award-winning freelance writer and co-owner of the book review website, DuelingLibrarians.net. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. Cynthia has her BA in English Literature from Sonoma State University, and her Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Occasionally, Cynthia can be found voicing characters in casual video games, including Stella in the Aveyond series. She is presently working on a young adult fantasy novel.

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