Make Your Bed: One Simple Way for Part-time Writers to Maintain Sanity by Jen Violi

Without my mom even telling me to, I’ve gotten back into the habit of making my bed in the morning.  And I have to say, I love it.

The bed-making itself—still drudgery for me.  But the results? Blissful.  At the end of the day, after putting my heart and soul into work and life, it makes such a difference to walk into my bedroom and feel like I’m in a hotel—like my bed is all fresh and peaceful for me.  I’ve even considered putting Andes mints on my pillows—why not go all the way with this, you know?

But back to beds, and then back to writing, which is what this is really about:  making your writing bed.

Making our beds takes just a few minutes, but preps the bed for how we can best use it—peaceful rest.  Same with writing.

At the end of a writing session, it takes just a few minutes to tie up loose ends, make myself a note about that scene I didn’t get to write but had an awesome visual of, or write down the revision insight I want to use, but that simple action preps my material for I can best use it:  productive writing time.

I am often in protest of routine.  I’m the kind of girl who would much rather awake in the morning, throw open the curtains, and let the wind blow in ideas for how my day might unfold than follow a schedule.

I’ve had to work hard to develop agenda-building muscles, mostly in order to allow for untethered time.  If you know the Myers-Briggs personality test, you might understand when I say I’ve had to force my J in service of my P-ness.  Even if you don’t, just read that out loud if you want to giggle.  I actually said that out loud last month in a meeting with one of the writers I work with, and tea almost came out my nose.

Since life and writing cannot be all freely unfolding, it helps to choose the structures and routines that serve you best. Especially when you’re a writer who isn’t making a living solely on book sales, when you’re writing in addition to your full-time job, full-time family, and full-time life.

Especially when you might only have two hours once a week to devote to your word work. You want to make those two hours count, rather than spending the first hour digging under the couch cushions of your brain, through crumbs and paper clips and gum wrappers, for that sweet little marble of an idea from last time that you just know rolled down there somewhere.

So try this out:  at the end of your next writing time, take ten minutes to make your bed.  Maybe this means making a dated short list for your next session, of things you want to remember or attend to or ponder.  Maybe this means using a particular color of pen or electronic highlight to direct you to the exact spot you want to return to and to note what to do first when you get there.

For those of us who love to create, reinventing the wheel can actually sound like fun (or maybe this is just me?), but I’ve learned there are much better uses of our time and talents, and saner paths to getting our words out into the world.

So, here’s to your sanity AND to your word-nerdy brilliance.