I Should Be Writing

I should be writing. 

Instead, I’m standing in the dim light of our basement, transferring articles of our dirty clothing from the wicker hamper to the washing machine. The smell of damp and mildew surrounds me, and I wonder at the haze of cobwebs catching the thin rays of light coming through the window. I am suddenly inspired to scrub minor stains and change the sheets. 

I should be writing. 

Instead, I’m planning our meals and making a list for the store. I’m clipping coupons and browsing through sale ads. I will save us money while still filling our house with the smell of fresh baked bread and homemade chili bubbling in my teal Le Creuset. I will have extra on hand for when others join our table, planning in advance for spontaneity. 

I should be writing. 

Instead, I’m bent over the sink, hands coated in soap suds, scrubbing the pots and pans of past meals, scraping the few leftover cornbread crumbs into the trashcan. These dishes will not wash themselves. I pile up the dripping utensils of my culinary adventures, slowly revealing the table’s wooden surface. It’s dirty. I wash it. The stove is speckled with crumbs and grease splatter. I wipe it down, gently lifting the burners and drip plates. As I rinse my cloth in the sink, I notice the drain is developing a dark film. No time like the present. 

I should be writing. Instead, I’m scrubbing the drain of my kitchen sink. 


Anne Lamott says the key to writing success is to keep your butt in the chair. Day in, day out, keep your butt in the chair and write. 

This is perhaps one of the most challenging parts of the job. To stay in the chair, to stay typing out words, whether I feel “inspired” or not, whether there are dishes in my sink or not. I can’t—and don’t—wait to sit down at my writing desk until I feel struck by an idea or moved by the Muses. I sit down every day, and I write. 

Some days it comes easy. Other days, I can barely eek out a paragraph that satisfies me. It’s on these days that I feel the incessant urge to do household chores, to do anything to flee from the cursor mocking me with its steady blinking.

The truth is, there is something powerful and strengthening in just showing up every day in obedient discipline. It works the muscles of my resolve. There is something hard won in bearing the weight of days with little creativity, with a raging inner critic, with the challenging work in what I’ve been called to. But there’s only one way to do this: butt in chair…and write.