How to Be Creative When You Are Busy

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I received an email recently from a reader who said, “I want my writing to be a way of crystallizing reality, not making a new one.”

It reminded me of something Sir Ken Robinson said, something I've found to be true of my own experience: “The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you're present in the current moment,  when you're fully alive.”

Life is Busy by Eneas

When You Are Too Busy To See

The ever-present enemy of this is busyness.

Today is a busy day. I have to wash and iron my white shirt.  I need to make an emergency run to the cleaners to get my suit pressed for an event tonight (yes, I realize I should have done this earlier).

My wife is stressed. I'm stressed. We'll be running around like busy fools today.

A trip to the dry cleaner is not the stuff of literature, and it's impossible to create anything interesting in a rushed state of mind.

However, it's often these busy days that have the most potential for stories to spawn from them, and if you're paying attention, you can capture them no matter how busy you are.

Here are a few tricks I use to write when I'm busy:

1. Carry writing tools with you (or steal them).

On the day of my wedding, I found a napkin, stole a pen, and while my groomsmen were carrying in the keg, I sat on a couch to write out my thoughts and a few key images (like the half-dozen bees circling these beautiful purple flowers right next to the chairs where our guests would sit).

Everyone says their wedding day was a blur, that they don't remember any of it. I, on the other hand, wrote everything down, and so I remember almost all of it.

2. If completely rushed, use your phone as a notepad.

If you have a fancy phone, it probably has an app that you can use to jot down a few notes. However, my phone is stupid, so when I have an idea for my novel or for my other writing projects, I just send a text to myself.

3. Find moments to escape.

No matter how rushed the day is, there are always a few minutes here or there. I have excused myself for a long trip to the “bathroom” to get some notes on paper.

Don't apologize or feel guilty for being sneaky. It will be worth it later.

4. Choose to take advantage of downtime.

Most busy days are of the “hurry up and wait” variety.

Once I ran through Budapest to catch a train, only to find out it didn't leave for six hours. So what did I do? I sat down on the gum-stained cement ground inside Budapest's beautifully run-down train station and wrote.

There are always moments to write. You just have to be disciplined enough to find them.

5. Wake up to the day.

To be an artist of any kind you must make a commitment to consistently “wake up” to the present throughout the day.

You have a busy day ahead of you. Tomorrow will be busy. The next day will be busy. There is no alternative but to wake up, to write right now, to recreate your crazy busy life and the crazy busy lives of others into art.

Of course, this is why we do art in the first place, to be more present, more awake, more fully alive.

Have you been present today? What do you do to “wake up”?

PRACTICE

Reflect on your busy day and on the present moment.

Write about it.

You have fifteen minutes (everyone has fifteen minutes to be present). Go.

(And when you're finished, as always, post your practice in the comments.)

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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58 Comments

  1. Andrea S Michaels

    OK, so I know that this is not what the post was about (duh) but… Budapest? My lovely, beautiful, ever-so-badly missed hometown? Tell me more. 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Andrea 🙂

      It’s both a long and short story. I was only there for three days, so nothing too exciting. Although we did almost sleep on the street because we couldn’t find a hostel we could afford. That was interesting. We ended up finding a fully furnished apartment for less than the price of all the hostels though. It was awesome.

      When did you leave Hungary?

      Reply
  2. Andrea S Michaels

    OK, so I know that this is not what the post was about (duh) but… Budapest? My lovely, beautiful, ever-so-badly missed hometown? Tell me more. 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Andrea 🙂

      It’s both a long and short story. I was only there for three days, so nothing too exciting. Although we did almost sleep on the street because we couldn’t find a hostel we could afford. That was interesting. We ended up finding a fully furnished apartment for less than the price of all the hostels though. It was awesome.

      When did you leave Hungary?

      Reply
  3. Stephanie Pridgen

    Before the sun woke up this morning I had a whimpering, but adorably cute even at 5:30 a.m., dog pressing me to remove myself from the warmth of my blankets and into the freezing outdoors. Olive and I were not friends in that moment no matter how cute she is.

    I sleep navigated the two hour commute from my pastor’s house where I am dog sitting and into back-to-back meetings. Sadly, I mostly sleep navigated the meetings too as we discussed Winter Camp details, then debriefed how time went with the World Race team that just left us, and then jumped into details for an International Students Conference that is happening in three weeks. Most of it sounded like the teacher on Charlie Brown cartoons to me.

    I then rushed to flag down my marshrutka to take me to the metro and then an hour later I ran for the next bus to take me back to a very unhappy and ready to be released miniature Schnauzer.

    Somewhere in the evening between entertaining the dog, sorting through design ideas, trying to come up with a killer costume for this weekend’s party and responding to messages and emails, I woke up.

    Misty Edward’s voice is ringing out through the air waves surrounding me. Olive is asleep on the blanket next to me. I am warmed by the taste of hot long leaf black tea and refreshed by the juicy pear I just bit into. A fun welcoming chalk drawing that I just created will soon welcome the family home and I realize these are the kind of moments I love. There is joy in creating and serving just because, out of love, with no expectation of payment. Here I now sit anticipating the excitement when the kids come running in and Olive runs joyfully barking and jumping, happy to have her family home again. In the meantime, she rests and I am stealing away a few minutes to simply soak in the presence of God.

    Reply
    • Adriana Willey

      this is lovely. i felt peaceful as i read it, your spin on the day very positive and calm. this is refreshing.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for reading and practicing.

      First, I liked the switch from past tense to present with your puncuating line, “I woke up,” as the transition. Excellent.

      Watch out for how much you summarize. It’s always better to show a scene rather than go through the high and lowlights.

      I also like how you start with and then circle back to Olive. Gives it a finished feeling.

      Reply
  4. Stephanie Pridgen

    Before the sun woke up this morning I had a whimpering, but adorably cute even at 5:30 a.m., dog pressing me to remove myself from the warmth of my blankets and into the freezing outdoors. Olive and I were not friends in that moment no matter how cute she is.

    I sleep navigated the two hour commute from my pastor’s house where I am dog sitting and into back-to-back meetings. Sadly, I mostly sleep navigated the meetings too as we discussed Winter Camp details, then debriefed how time went with the World Race team that just left us, and then jumped into details for an International Students Conference that is happening in three weeks. Most of it sounded like the teacher on Charlie Brown cartoons to me.

    I then rushed to flag down my marshrutka to take me to the metro and then an hour later I ran for the next bus to take me back to a very unhappy and ready to be released miniature Schnauzer.

    Somewhere in the evening between entertaining the dog, sorting through design ideas, trying to come up with a killer costume for this weekend’s party and responding to messages and emails, I woke up.

    Misty Edward’s voice is ringing out through the air waves surrounding me. Olive is asleep on the blanket next to me. I am warmed by the taste of hot long leaf black tea and refreshed by the juicy pear I just bit into. A fun welcoming chalk drawing that I just created will soon welcome the family home and I realize these are the kind of moments I love. There is joy in creating and serving just because, out of love, with no expectation of payment. Here I now sit anticipating the excitement when the kids come running in and Olive runs joyfully barking and jumping, happy to have her family home again. In the meantime, she rests and I am stealing away a few minutes to simply soak in the presence of God.

    Reply
    • Adriana Willey

      this is lovely. i felt peaceful as i read it, your spin on the day very positive and calm. this is refreshing.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for reading and practicing.

      First, I liked the switch from past tense to present with your puncuating line, “I woke up,” as the transition. Excellent.

      Watch out for how much you summarize. It’s always better to show a scene rather than go through the high and lowlights.

      I also like how you start with and then circle back to Olive. Gives it a finished feeling.

      Reply
  5. Katie Axelson

    I will admit that I am not above texting, emailing, and calling myself just to record a thought. Neither am I above stealing hotel paper (and pens). I also tend to leave some piece of fiction open on my computer when at all possible because it gives me something else to mull over while checking facebook or whatever. Any spare moment is pen-to-paper, literally or figuratively. Reading and decoding them later is always a fun job.
    Katie

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nice tip about leaving your writing open on your computer, Katie. Thank you. And yes, I agree with you, making your napkin notes coherent is a challenge.

      Reply
  6. Katie Axelson

    I will admit that I am not above texting, emailing, and calling myself just to record a thought. Neither am I above stealing hotel paper (and pens). I also tend to leave some piece of fiction open on my computer when at all possible because it gives me something else to mull over while checking facebook or whatever. Any spare moment is pen-to-paper, literally or figuratively. Reading and decoding them later is always a fun job.
    Katie

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nice tip about leaving your writing open on your computer, Katie. Thank you. And yes, I agree with you, making your napkin notes coherent is a challenge.

      Reply
  7. Adriana Willey

    my busy day started last night with dirty dishes and a full mind keeping me past midnight. every minute hour the smoke detector beeps to remind me of another detail left to do. my husband’s alarm joins the band at 5:45 am. the man hasn’t gotten up before six since we’ve been married. i hiss at him something i will regret in an hour. he turns the alarm to a whisper and sleeps on top of it, promising me i won’t hear it next time. ten minutes later i give a blind poke, letting him know i hear it just fine. “it’s the smoke detector” he says.

    i tiptoe out of bed, beyond the bedrooms and bathroom. i start my daily routine of “holding it’ as to not disturb baby. moments alone are worth the discomfort. before i reach the end of the hall, i hear my baby sigh. it is a waking sigh, i can tell.

    the day is here.

    7 am – 3 pm is a blur. fooddiaperchangefoodstripthebedlaundrybabyincandlewaxnonofoodwalmartmichaelstargetdiaperfoodstoryiloveyounighnightclean

    he’s sleeping now and i have to pee. i dare not. writing no longer holds the appeal it did in this morning, before the end of the hall. but i write anyway – to assign meaning, to reclaim soul. i know it’s nowhere i haven’t been so i retrace my steps. o there it is – in the middle of the laundry pile, next to the panties.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Pridgen

      I love the last sentence and “my husband’s alarm joins the band at 5:45 am. the man hasn’t gotten up before six since we’ve been married”. wonderful!

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is great Adriana. Nice little vignette between you and your husband. The conflict helps the passage as a whole.

      “It is a waking sigh, I can tell.” This little sentence brought me into your perspective as a mother beautifully. You can tell because of course you know your child, and you know what that sigh is going to mean for your day. But it’s also clear that I wouldn’t be able to tell, and so it tells the story of months of listening for sighs.

      This is an innovative way to communicate rush:

      “fooddiaperchangefoodstripthebedlaundrybabyincandlewaxnonofoodwalmartmichaelstargetdiaperfoodstoryiloveyounighnightclean”

      Have you seen that elsewhere or did you make it up?

      All in all you lead us through a day of life succinctly and beautifully. I’m very impressed Adriana.

      Reply
      • Adriana Willey

        thank you for your feedback. i actually came up with the quick synopsis style on the spot. haven’t seen it before but am glad it worked. i did borrow the analogy of finding one’s self in the pile of the laundry. i added the panties part :). you bring up a question i have had. since becoming more interesting in writing i have begun to read other people stuff. it’s really good. they give words and pictures to my life. but is it plagiarism to then use the analogy in my own writing?

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          I don’t think it’s plagiarism, but depending on how you do it, it could be sketchy. Here’s the thing, if you’re forwarding the conversation about the symbol, if you’re adding something, it’s great. If you can’t add something, then maybe mention the name of the author.

          Reply
    • Kiki Stamatiou

      This is such a prolific piece of writing. Very nice.

      Reply
  8. Adriana Willey

    my busy day started last night with dirty dishes and a full mind keeping me past midnight. every minute hour the smoke detector beeps to remind me of another detail left to do. my husband’s alarm joins the band at 5:45 am. the man hasn’t gotten up before six since we’ve been married. i hiss at him something i will regret in an hour. he turns the alarm to a whisper and sleeps on top of it, promising me i won’t hear it next time. ten minutes later i give a blind poke, letting him know i hear it just fine. “it’s the smoke detector” he says.

    i tiptoe out of bed, beyond the bedrooms and bathroom. i start my daily routine of “holding it’ as to not disturb baby. moments alone are worth the discomfort. before i reach the end of the hall, i hear my baby sigh. it is a waking sigh, i can tell.

    the day is here.

    7 am – 3 pm is a blur. fooddiaperchangefoodstripthebedlaundrybabyincandlewaxnonofoodwalmartmichaelstargetdiaperfoodstoryiloveyounighnightclean

    he’s sleeping now and i have to pee. i dare not. writing no longer holds the appeal it did in this morning, before the end of the hall. but i write anyway – to assign meaning, to reclaim soul. i know it’s nowhere i haven’t been so i retrace my steps. o there it is – in the middle of the laundry pile, next to the panties.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Pridgen

      I love the last sentence and “my husband’s alarm joins the band at 5:45 am. the man hasn’t gotten up before six since we’ve been married”. wonderful!

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is great Adriana. Nice little vignette between you and your husband. The conflict helps the passage as a whole.

      “It is a waking sigh, I can tell.” This little sentence brought me into your perspective as a mother beautifully. You can tell because of course you know your child, and you know what that sigh is going to mean for your day. But it’s also clear that I wouldn’t be able to tell, and so it tells the story of months of listening for sighs.

      This is an innovative way to communicate rush:

      “fooddiaperchangefoodstripthebedlaundrybabyincandlewaxnonofoodwalmartmichaelstargetdiaperfoodstoryiloveyounighnightclean”

      Have you seen that elsewhere or did you make it up?

      All in all you lead us through a day of life succinctly and beautifully. I’m very impressed Adriana.

      Reply
      • Adriana Willey

        thank you for your feedback. i actually came up with the quick synopsis style on the spot. haven’t seen it before but am glad it worked. i did borrow the analogy of finding one’s self in the pile of the laundry. i added the panties part :). you bring up a question i have had. since becoming more interesting in writing i have begun to read other people stuff. it’s really good. they give words and pictures to my life. but is it plagiarism to then use the analogy in my own writing?

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          I don’t think it’s plagiarism, but depending on how you do it, it could be sketchy. Here’s the thing, if you’re forwarding the conversation about the symbol, if you’re adding something, it’s great. If you can’t add something, then maybe mention the name of the author.

          Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          I don’t think it’s plagiarism, but depending on how you do it, it could be sketchy. Here’s the thing, if you’re forwarding the conversation about the symbol, if you’re adding something, it’s great. If you can’t add something, then maybe mention the name of the author.

          Reply
      • Adriana Willey

        thank you for your feedback. i actually came up with the quick synopsis style on the spot. haven’t seen it before but am glad it worked. i did borrow the analogy of finding one’s self in the pile of the laundry. i added the panties part :). you bring up a question i have had. since becoming more interesting in writing i have begun to read other people stuff. it’s really good. they give words and pictures to my life. but is it plagiarism to then use the analogy in my own writing?

        Reply
  9. Timboldt

    I like writing (or at least attempting) haiku. Real haiku, not just an exercise in counting syllables. It forces you to channel your thoughts and experiences down to their essences. It’s hard to do this if you can’t become present in the moment.

    shadow, drifting
    across polished wood-grain
    fades into silence

    Reply
    • Hannah

      Though a Haiku, this is not simplistic in any way, which is amazing! Like you said it forces us to break ourselves down into a single essence, to channel the world of the “polished wood-grain”, to feel it inside us, to let it become us if it was not already us to begin within. This is more than nice, this is brilliant. Its like that moment of brilliance, the darkest brilliance caught too heavily in the waves of reflection and washed away into the most of eerie of all silences: the forgotten… Oh, I love it!

      Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I like writing (or at least attempting) haiku. Real haiku, not just an exercise in counting syllables. It forces you to channel your thoughts and experiences down to their essences. It’s hard to do this if you can’t become present in the moment.

    shadow, drifting
    across polished wood-grain
    fades into silence

    Reply
  11. Joylynn

    I feel…..
    i feel like i can dance today
    Like i’m above myself
    Like above the clouds
    And away from my worries
    I am happy
    I feel happy
    And i see beautiful people
    And i breathe more today
    Many people made me laugh today
    I feel simple and free
    I feel complete not needing anything else
    And as im walking through the mall
    I hear a Christmas song sung by a young child, a little girl
    I know i’m on my way to get some bubble tea for me and my brother
    And i’m going home
    I think i love light
    These little bulbs around pillar walls in malls and christmas trees
    I love this day
    I love how i feel
    I love this joy
    I love feeling free like this.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Joylynn, this spoke to me. We so rarely get to feel like this. You reminded me to try, today. This could be a kind of manifesto for joy. I love how clearly and simply you walk us through your day, and how you weave your feelings throughout. Thank you for sharing this.

      Reply
      • Joylynn

        Thanks for reading it, Joe 🙂 this thing you’re doing, it’s great! Keep it up!

        Reply
  12. Joylynn

    I feel…..
    i feel like i can dance today
    Like i’m above myself
    Like above the clouds
    And away from my worries
    I am happy
    I feel happy
    And i see beautiful people
    And i breathe more today
    Many people made me laugh today
    I feel simple and free
    I feel complete not needing anything else
    And as im walking through the mall
    I hear a Christmas song sung by a young child, a little girl
    I know i’m on my way to get some bubble tea for me and my brother
    And i’m going home
    I think i love light
    These little bulbs around pillar walls in malls and christmas trees
    I love this day
    I love how i feel
    I love this joy
    I love feeling free like this.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Joylynn, this spoke to me. We so rarely get to feel like this. You reminded me to try, today. This could be a kind of manifesto for joy. I love how clearly and simply you walk us through your day, and how you weave your feelings throughout. Thank you for sharing this.

      Reply
      • Joylynn

        Thanks for reading it, Joe 🙂 this thing you’re doing, it’s great! Keep it up!

        Reply
  13. Hannah

    Inside

    By Hannah E. Reed

    Freedom pulses within my veins

    A tireless exile from reality

    The fantastical frees me from these reins

    Blowing out my breath

    Like a candle.

    I can feel time

    Like an ever ticking hour

    I can see hours as they pass

    But the hardest thing

    Is to truly understand me

    To envison the moment in the now

    I can hear the words

    They tell me what to say

    I can hear the breeze from the window

    It pours inside like a secret

    Unable to hide

    From the streaming world beyond its nomadic home

    I close my eyes

    And I can see the chambers

    I will not sleep

    Now or ever

    I dream awake

    When my eyes are open

    I can breathe

    Worlds are unleashed

    Inside

    Beyond this senseless reality,

    the blur to my unceasing zone

    I am buried beneath consciousness…

    To be fully aware of the outer lands chasing

    Is never to be fully awakened in
    the now

    I stay alive by these realms inside me

    I feel full by the hunger for more

    Never am I starving when mentality takes over

    Never am I insane when sustained by my madness

    Always am I free

    Beyond this world

    Inside the worlds of my own

    Reply
  14. Alana Murray

    The blue bag in the shop window staring at me, judging, making me reveal things I would never concede about myself. Maybe I would buy it, just to silence it. Maybe I could hush all the guilt, the indignity. It wouldn’t be such a price to pay, would it? It wouldn’t be gawking at me then, I would possess it. See it judge me then. I would own it and there would be no accountability, nothing left to gawk at me. I could criticise it into silence; twist it to my own will. Trap it into an existence of nothingness. I will; I will own it and I will never let anyone have what is mine. Until the next time that something is staring at me, judging; I will own that too and shunt inside it an abysmal part of myself, away from prying eyes. You will not make me see the darkness inside myself, I will not face it. I will bury it in possessions; I will fill the emptiness inside by owning impractical things and wearing a false façade. I will not answer to you; I will not answer to anyone! How dare you accuse me! How dare you blame me! How dare you find fault in ME! I do not hear you, I can’t hear you. It is impossible to hear anything over the egocentric contemplatives that slough my consciousness. I may eventually wade my way through the thick palpable leftovers of my less than compassionate soul; but that isn’t today. Today I am; alone.

    Reply
  15. Areesz

    Today was day two of a bigger beginning, a new start of sorts. I woke up not with a smile but with a motive to seize the day and beat Resistance. Yesterday was day one of beating Resistance but now I realise today was a better day.

    When I woke up… I tried to avoid seeing the messages on my cell phone, the first thing after I opened my eyes. I went to brush and then came out to have tea and breakfast with my beautiful wife. I read the newspaper and side by side started chatting up. Later on I paid some credit card bills.

    As the day progressed and my wife left for work, I took my car to the mechanic to get a new number plate since it had fallen off the previous day. The guy asked me to come back in the evening. I came home… went to the gym, did a good workout of my biceps…had lunch while watching a bit of a film on my laptop. And today for change I chose not to sleep. This sleeping at noon was becoming a habit to avoided that. Instead I took my laptop in the middle room, swtiched on the air conditioner and put the timer on and started writing. Wrote for about 15min but then started doing research on my short film that I am writing about. Saw a few interesting YouTube videos. Saw a couple of them about sign language too. Later on made a call to friend, chatted for a while. And went and lay down on the bed… where I had a short snooze of about 15minutes. I woke up and went to get my car fixed. Came back home in an hour. Made tea and had an evening snack and along side started editing a picture that I had clicked. It took me roughly two hours to edit it, but by the end of it I was happy with the result. Then to take a break from the sitting, I got up and started reading “The War Of Art” by Steven Presfield on my Ipad. Walked around while I read aloud for about 20 min. Felt real good to read so much at stretch after ages. Also enjoyed my own voice and the modulations that I was able to give. Was a satisfying feeling.

    Later on I made myself a drink and watched some television. Had dinner and saw National Geographic for a change. There was show on how our eyes and brain play games with us. They showed various games and ways to trick the mind. Post dinner I did waste some time watching TV which I am not very happy about but I give my self a little slack today. Then my wife came home and I chatted with her about her day and mine, till she fell asleep.

    And here I am now… using my time and my life creatively reading an article from thewriterpractice.com and for the first time writing all the events of my day from start to end. FEELING AWESOME. THANK YOU GOD! And THANK YOU UNIVERSE 🙂

    Reply
  16. Sandra D

    Busy? Holds up hands and shrugs.

    I took a nap a little bit ago and woke up off the couch, keeping the pictures in my head wrote it down on my computer notepad. Then spent another 15 minutes looking up the meanings. One of the symbols possible interpretations was that you are not getting enough done in life and you are falling behind. I actually don’t work right now. I take care of my son. He plays independantly for long stretches and still takes three hour naps even though he is three, and my daughter is in school.

    This is a great opportunity for me to explore my desire to create art. I like both writing and art. Both are time consuming. And the funny thing is that it takes a really long time to get started on either lately. I went 4 days last week where I didn’t create anything. All I did was read stuff online. I had gotten really interested in mythology and alchemy due to some weird dreams I had been having. But I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything for days.

    But sometimes I feel guilty for even getting the chace to do art. I wanted to for such a long time but I was working full time and had a daughter to spend time with when I wasn’t working. And that familar catch phrase everyone has heard before, “I just couldn’t find the time.” But I have time now and I don’t know how to use it effectively enough. I want to start a novel, but I am also terrified. So instead I just practice, and am waiting for a great inspiration to hit me. But I feel even though I have more time than most, I am always afraid. I am running against an invisible clock and if I haven’t gotten something done by that time I will have failed. I feel failure breathing on my back, it’s hot breath leaves my neck damp. I feel if I ever see it, it will be wearing black robes and wear its face should be will be nothing but blackness.

    I am afraid of writing, because I will be looking down the well, and I can’t do it all at once. The music coming up from the well is haunting and also so enticing, but what if I never get back up and out. I know that sounds irrational, but how could art kill you? But I don’t know, I get a strong feeling it could.

    I guess many days do play out busy at times. I make breakfast for the kids, try to keep a limit on my explosions and explain very calmly to my daughter that you really need to eat quickly and I asked you to put on your shoes three times now, why are they not on? Keep it in check, do not explode, do not be a terrible monster mother, but talk to them. They will understand if you explain. OK I probably ended up blowing up again. We are in a hurry kids, you are not going to be late. And kids fed, lunch packed. Wait… You didn’t eat your sandwich yesterday?

    But I do not like the turkey on my sandwich.

    You had me cut out cheese last week and I did, and now you want the meat out too? Your sandwich is going to be two slices of bread, some mayo and avacado and that’s it. That isn’t a meal. She stares not saying anything, standing fast to her point. You need to eat your sandwich today.

    The kids shuffle out to the car. No time for shoes today for the boy. Some objections from him because it’s different.

    “It’s okay, no shoes today. There’s no time” He walks over the grass barefoot and stands by the car.

    I strap my boy in his seat, seats today have become contraptions of torture for both kids and parents alike, but at least they’re safer I guess. My daughter races to see if she will get her seat on before I get my sons on. She wins.

    I start the car and drive to her school.

    Drop her off, Chinwah, my boys stand in name (something feels wrong about putting in his name), Chinwah then asks if we can go to the library.

    Sure but the library isn’t open for an hour. We go home, he is ready for snack, even though he has just had breakfast. I sometimes say no, wait till lunch and other times I say fine. Today was a fine day. I grab a little bowl and put some nuts and raisons in it, his eyes shine.

    He carries his bowl to the table but he tips the bowl and nuts and raisins fall over the floor. He is crying. He wraps his arms around me and his head is tilted up and he let’s out tear filled wails.

    Oh it’s okay, I comfort him, rubbing his back. You can have some more. It’s okay. I get the mess cleaned and offer another bowl that I place on the table. He smiles again and delicately, examing each piece before popping it in his mouth.

    Reply
  17. jfk35824

    Prompt : reflect on your busy day and the present moment.

    Today was busy. We had to get the car inspected. I was unhappy because we only do the trip out
    to the mechanic’s place once a year for inspection, or if there’s a
    repair. We had to do that twice this
    year, so its ironic that I was unhappy.

    I don’t remember the route well. I don’t like driving, and driving somewhere I
    don’t know or don’t remember is bad.

    She’s depending on me.

    My wife just fine. For now.
    Her vision is bad and getting worse.
    Someday I will have to do all of the driving chores, and it will be even
    worse.

    Mostly its bad because she’s depending on me. I don’t want to let down the woman I love,
    ever. I hate driving because not knowing
    where im going while my own life (or worse someone else’s) is in my own hands,
    and ridiculously vulnerable, is scary.

    But we have to get the car inspected so we can go to the
    family wedding in Virginia this month.
    We have other errands to run later, and this evening I’m supposed to
    talk for 45 minutes about my faith. I am
    completely unprepared for this, because we were busy yesterday with our god
    daughters birthday party, and then our weekly volunteer shift at the local
    college radio station.

    One would think I would remember the route. He’s the only mechanic we ever go to. Nope.

    Its funny though, halfway there I started to remember, and
    my wife only had to prompt me twice, and all that was, was, “you want to be in
    this lane for later.” And, “you want to go straight here instead of right.”

    My wife is awesome.

    She wasn’t feeling well, and I hadn’t had anything to eat
    when we left the house.

    We skipped the meeting where I was going to talk. I’ll still do it because people are
    interested in my/our faith, but now ill have some time to be thoughtful and
    prepare. The car is fine now, in spite
    of having to drive home and then all the way back because of having to wait for
    a part.

    She says I’m wonderful.

    We’ve been talking a lot about our relationship lately
    because some good friends of ours look like they are heading for divorce.

    They are the ones who’s little girl’s party we helped plan,
    set up, be present for, and they do clean up for yesterday.

    Now we’re at home after treating yesterday’s party’s grill
    master to a meal. Its hot, we’re both
    sweating, shes’ researching a new cell phone choice, and I’m writing this.

    I love my life because she’s in it, and I have so many good
    reasons to put up with the irritations.

    I have a cold beer here.
    She’s the one that buys them for me.

    Reply
    • Tapiocaqueen

      It’s very touching. :’)

      Reply
  18. Danny

    I’m home from a thirty-six hour long camping trip, laying in bed, listening to the fan by my left ear, trying desperately to shut off my brain so I can sleep.

    I took a bath earlier today; I somehow feel both clean and dirty at once. The ever-present grime and grit of a camping trip gets into my head. The dirt actually becomes psychosomatic. I can’t shake the feeling of all that dirt on my hands.

    Maybe this is what heroin addicts feel like when invisible bugs attack.

    I’m laying inside a wood-paneled bunk bed — it’s so old that the wood rattles like mad when I give it the slightest touch. Apparently at the age of twenty-six, I’m still afraid of rolling over the edge in my sleep, just like I was when I was six, sleeping in the same bed.

    Underneath me sits the man-cave. Widescreen TV, plugs for my laptop and Xbox, scattered empty dishes and discarded cans of Vanilla Coke. It’s a nice little nook. It keeps me away from the rest of the house. Only Mom ever dares to enter the room. Not even the dog likes it in here. I’ve got my entertainment capital on the bottom bunk, and the rest of the room is pure storage.

    Outside in the starlight, you can probably see the back fence streaked with ugly white brush marks. Those were from me. I may be a lot of things, or at least I’m a thing or two — but I’m no painter. It looks like a sun-baked disaster, like the PE teacher I had in middle school with the permanently bleached skin under her sunglasses. Mom wants me to do the other half of the fence. Hey, I don’t have a job. Fuck it. I’ll do it. I’ll paint the whole fence into this splotchy gray and at least the place will look consistent.

    I could listen to a fan all day and night long. I usually do.

    When I close my eyes I remember driving up the coast of Big Sur, just twenty-four hours ago. I can feel the sharp turns and the rumble of passing trucks. a vivid memory, and it was about the moment when severe depression descended on me from a literally overcast sky. I lost my motivation to continue. I have to be back in Long Beach tomorrow to take care of class garbage. Otherwise I’m out another two thousand bucks.

    I hate deadlines like that. Particularly when I’m on a goddamn vacation. I don’t want to spend all day worried about getting back home for this stupid enrollment fiasco.

    At least this bed is comfy. The weather is cooling (finally.) The fan is hitting the sweet spot between my chest and neck, and I’m relaxed as all hell right now.

    I wish I had a girl to share my life with.

    This room may be mine, but I wish it was someone else’s too.

    Reply
  19. Kiki Stamatiou

    Prompt #10: I Wrote Pages Of Notes While Making Salads
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    Back in the winter semester of college in 1989, I took a creative writing class. The assignment for the weekend was to write about a day in our life through a poem. I worked at McDonald’s Restaurant back then.

    I wrote pages and pages of notes not only for my poem but for future stories, while I was in the back room making salads. I had a huge order to fill. I had to make 75 salads within a hour’s time, put them into the racks, bring them to the front, and restock them.

    I then had to fill another order of salads after that. I was writing in between doing all that, by jotting down notes on pieces of paper towel.

    I must have collected at least 30 sheets. I stored them on one of the shelves of the table I used for making the salads.

    When I went downstairs to the stockroom, I first stopped off in the break room with my sheets of paper towels to put them into my duffel bag I stored in the closet of the break room. Then, I went into the stock room to get product the cashiers needed up front. I brought the stock up, and left the cashiers to put everything away.

    The manager in charge for the day asked me if I could jump on window to take a few orders, because we had three Greyhound buses load of people come in. After taking order after order, assembling the order, collecting the money, I took some napkins, and a pen I found on top of the counter, and made notations. I came up with other ideas for poems and stories.

    I composed a 17 page typed story that day. The 30 handwritten sheets of the paper towels turned out to be 17 typed pages. It took me most of the night to type it out, but I finished it.

    Upon finishing my story, I typed out my poem needed for my assignment, and put all my pages into their respective folder.

    I had to go inside to the kitchen at home to eat some dinner, wash the dishes, and clean up the rest of the kitchen, before I went to bed.

    I also had to dust off the furniture and vacuum the entire house.

    When I finished doing that, I had to go outside to our garden late at night to help my parents and my brother pick the vegetables. I had to clean the string beans by breaking off the ends one at a time. Then, I had to wash them, pat them dry individually, and package them in plastic bags to store them in our freezer for the winter. I had to do this for three large garbage full of string beans where I placed them upon picking them.

    When I was finished, I got ready for bed, brushed my teeth and washed my face. I then went back into my bedroom wear I wrote some more story ideas and poems down in my journal. Then I went to bed and had pleasant dreams.

    While laying in my bed, my mind was active, and I thought about what my next story would be about.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    Reply
  20. MrSerenitykid

    This is what 15 minutes will get you. No editing besides spell check. Its pretty hacky(especially the first sentence) but whatever. First time poster long time reader.

    Broad Strokes
    What is art? Art is for the busy mind to expel its anxiety
    on paper. Art is the homeless man too tired and hungry to work. Art is the
    waves crashing on the eroding cliffs begging a house to come crashing down to join
    them. Art is something we strive for no matter what you do. Art is the creation
    of all things whether it be relationships, education, or imagination. Creation
    is all around us and if you stop and pause for a moment you’ll notice a tree in
    your backyard that wasn’t there yesterday.
    You might notice the love your partner expresses when they make you a
    cup of coffee in the morning. Love is creation and love is art. Today is a busy
    day but that doesn’t mean Ill be transformed into a headless chicken. Instead
    I’ll be like that of a eagle, flying from branch to branch, patiently observing
    my surroundings and taking nourishment as it comes to me. As I set off on my
    busy day I am reminded that life isn’t meant to be a grind. It isn’t meant to
    be the long line at the pharmacy, the phone call you’re avoiding, or the dishes
    that need doing. Life is for living and living is art. If you accused me of
    being overly ambiguous I wouldn’t deny it. I am no expert on what art should or
    should not be. I am not a life coach, or any other coach for that matter,
    football or otherwise. I’ve never claimed to be anything more than human,
    however, I am acutely aware that life can be whatever you want it to. The trip
    to the pharmacy can be an experience of character analysis while you’re tapping
    your foot in line. The person in front of you has a story. If you’re anything
    like me you’d prefer not to make conversation but imagination takes little
    effort. Everyday can be portrait and you are the paint cascading in broad
    strokes.

    Reply
  21. grantburkhardt

    I wouldn’t have had anything to do today if I hadn’t filled it with things. I woke up late so everything was faster. I practiced many forms of hygiene while I listened to a song that blasts away the morning malaise. I danced into my pinstriped pants and through the long sleeves of a blue shirt decorated with hundreds of indistinguishable white arrows. From afar the symbols make the shirt look like a maze without a start or a finish. I answered a few text messages as I brewed fresh coffee and checked my emails to ensure I wasn’t going to be late to an important meeting. I packed my bag while walking to open the blinds and make the bed. On the way back to the coffee pot, I picked up a used bowl from last night’s cereal and stuffed it in the dishwasher. Then my coffee went in a red mug and I tied my shoes. More texts, more emails…it’s eight in the morning, people, give it a rest. I flipped all the lights off, started the dishwasher, and locked the door on my way out. In the car, I chose a podcast, made a joke to a colleague via text, and pressed the gas to merge onto the highway. I weaved to the far-left lane and after twenty minutes and a full podcast episode I parked at the glass cage where I am employed. At work I opened my computer and opened twelve browser tabs – both emails, four in-office systems, three of my favorite websites, a podcast player, the interoffice messaging platform, and Tweetdeck, which itself is broken up into six columns. I separated the twelve into two equal windows of six and situated each on its own monitor so it was clean and organized.

    Those tabs have been open all morning and afternoon. My cursor has found no rest. I’ve cycled through a half-dozen more podcast episodes, about sickness and health, about sports and culture, about other countries and my own. I’ve gained knowledge through those stories because the other eleven windows don’t provide any.

    When I leave this building in ninety minutes I will close all those tabs and shut my email off for the night, but then I will run a few miles and make salmon and vegetables and shower again and listen to a show about relationships and I will drive to the corner coffee shop to read and write and be busier than I have been all day. My phone will continue to bzzzzzz; I will keep answering it. The man at the front will know to make me a hot, ginger and peach tea and I will sit by the shop’s fireplace, a picture of which I will send to a friend to show how my life is coming along. When that coffee shop closes, I will either order a jalapeño pizza and drive home to watch basketball or I will finish my writing at the other coffeehouse that stays open all night and where the Internet password is on the printed receipt. After that’s all done I will drive to my apartment, close the blinds, undo my bed, prop my pillows against the wall and catch up on a new season of a show I hate so I can talk and text about it with people tomorrow. Halfway through the episode my body will begin to feel the overwhelming exhaustion it had been deprived of. It will descend on my chest, heavy and insurmountable, and I will sleep.

    But for now, with eighty-five minutes to go, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Twelve browser windows are open and someone just Tweeted a video I must watch and an eight thousand-word story that I must read.

    Reply
  22. Lele Lele

    My dog died.

    I’m in the dumps.

    I don’t want to to anything.

    My legs hurt.

    My arms hurt.

    I’m regressing again.

    I feel sick. My throat hurts. I have a fever.

    The plans are unwinding again.

    It’s shit. It’s always shit. Nothing ever works. It will never work.

    Ah.

    I don’t know. Maybe.

    I’m listening to music I already hate. But what else is there? No wait- Change the tracks.

    Ah. Much much better.

    I didn’t cry for my dog. I never really cry anymore. I didn’t even cry when my father died.

    I just feel empty or not dead. Or maybe. I’m just disappointed. I even bought that puppy a collar. I even named her.

    Damn. Ah.

    Oh well.

    I just kicked her over the hole in the ground then dump the soil over her. I didn’t even feel anything.

    This writing thing. Ah.

    Life is on pause.

    I need to do something quick.

    A job? Ah. How?
    Friends?

    Skills?

    Competence?

    Brains?

    I give up. Maybe.

    Grind, yes?

    My throat hurts. I feel sick. My arms hurt. My eyes hurt. Let me rest. I couldn’t sleep.

    The payoff is too far.

    Reply
  23. Will

    Against the force of my will and intentions, I was once dragged to a concert which lasted well into the night. I was a performer, a part of my school’s choir and orchestra.

    I had had a horrific day; being in high school exhausted and stressed me out; being plopped onto a huge arena to sing and play before a crowd was going to kill me, I was sure.

    I was furious, too. I felt like I was being forced to participate in a ridiculous, self-promoting show. I had a million other things to do that I’d rather be doing.

    But for all the heart-pounding nervousness I felt, I was also bored beyond my mind. I was not going to perform continuously – there was a huge wait until the time came to appear on-stage. We, the musicians, had been seated in massive waiting rooms since the start of the afternoon. My bottom and legs were sore from sitting; I didn’t know how I was ever going to play the ‘cello in these conditions.

    Looking back, I realise that this was a great opportunity to write. I had my school bag at hand, with all my pens and pencils and papers, and hours of down-time. I should have seized the opportunity. Shouldn’t I?

    I was too deadened to think. being in a crowded, noisy room sucked my patience, concentration and sense of humour right out of me. And if I can’t write with a sense of humour, what’s the point? If only I was trapped in the middle of a quiet place, where i could see the night. Being busy kills my creative energy, or just about any energy I have.

    Reply
  24. graycbeth.gk@gmail.com

    I’m a beginner and late at that but please bear with this
    I roll over in the sheets,one hand reaching out for my pillow that fell down on the linoleum and the other holding the blanket over my head it’s really cold I don’t know how I slept with the air conditioning off. The only thing that’s stopping me from smashing my alarm is because it’s my phone.
    Oh no!! I mutter and turn to look at the time like someone else had helped me set the alarm.
    “It’s Sunday” I remind myself. Not going to work, at least something good.
    I move staggeringly from the bed looking out for my old red unkempt slippers but can’t find them. I turn around to face the foot board, it’s my dirty laundry basket, it’s full.
    Forgetting about the slippers I wrap a towel over my short night dress as I pick up the laundry for washing.
    “Grace” it’s my annoying elder sister again, this is what she does whenever she wakes, call my name! I frown “yes” I respond in an unpleasant tone of voice. She’s still going to work even if its a weekend she always acts like someone is giving her a run for her money. She asks me to get her tea. I drop the basket too. Today is not going to go as I had anticipated, I haven’t gotten a single thing done since I woke up. I turn the kettle on and go back to put the clothes inside the machine.
    Dang! It’s my nephew he forcibly pushes the door wide open it hits the wall behind it. My head is spining now,I turn to look at the clock and it’s only 11: 00 am…oh crap! I sigh…

    Reply
  25. bah

    didn’t give much thought or care of this day, but it was filled with joy and fun at least from my point of view. i had enjoyed my day playing different sports and hanging out with new people for the first time. we were playing a game of basketball when i saw the soccer group, the group which i wished to be for a bloody long in but i couldn’t, i was perhaps to anxious and probably unfitting to them but i loved the sport. anyway after days of playing with them i discovered a new people which i hanged around for three years, it was boring with them when i though about it then, no, it was absolute depressing and disgusting. i felt deeply saddening. I wondered for all those wasted years being anxous and bloody shy which destroyed the essence out of me and i felt intensely regretful promising myself that if i had any kids i would not let them follow my foolish trail.

    Reply
  26. Angelina Pancho

    Writing and publishing a book is my longed dream. I am looking forward of someone who can help me realize this dream.

    Reply
  27. Mandy

    A reflection on my day so far? I woke up this morning, no alarm set, after a restful sleep in an unfamiliar bed. No work to get ready for, nowhere to be really, someone else is watching my dog back in Canada so I just lay in bed and revelled at the fact that, if I wanted to, I could stay there all day. But that wouldn’t be a good way to spend my time away from home now would it? A girl’s trip with my mom to Phoenix, AZ for a few days. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, except whatever we want.
    We went for a thirty minute bike ride before the Arizona sun woke up completely. We had breakfast and then I loaded up the sunscreen on my pale Northern skin.

    Since that point, we’ve been sitting beside the pool, in the pool and in the shade for sun-breaks. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, utter relaxation and freedom. Precious time away from the daily grind. Time for reflection on where my life is at and where I want it to go.

    As I spend the afternoon drinking beer and eating Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream straight from the one pint container, I have decided that I want my life to go here. To a place where I can come here whenever I want, to go where ever I want whenever I want. That’s the dream isn’t it? The trick is making it happen so I never need to wake up from this dream…

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You Need More Space - […] don’t think it’s impossible to write when you’re busy. It’s easy to make excuses about why you don’t have…
  2. How to Be Creative When You Are Busy - […] Source: The Writer Practice […]
  3. 5 Ways To Find Your Creativity (Even If You Have No Time) – Jasmine Holly Moore - […] and creator of the blog ‘The Write Practice’, also cites movement as a catalyst for creativity. Listing many ways…

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