People who tell me ‘I’d love to write, but I don’t have time,’ always have time.

Consider time as being on your side, and consider how hard it is to leave your comfort zone. Do you want to continue in the zone, and go with the generic ‘no time’ opt-out, the safest shilly-shally man invented?

Settling into a pattern is a path of least resistance that feels comfortable, even cool. It can be cool because routine keeps you safe and you feel comfortable following the herd.

But there is a time to be over it. You can keep telling yourself time is the enemy, and that the writing kind of work is risky, even scary. It’s commonplace to imagine that writing is for chosen layabouts who mooch around by day and get wasted by night. Or to feel overrun by the household drudgery, your hard day’s night, and neglect your writing. But what you think is stopping you, will be what will raise you.

Chores and the daily grind are facts of life. But is it you? There is no law mandating household chores. Or anything to say they ought to be done on time. You may be offending your partner by not doing your share of the housework on time, but in all honesty, wouldn’t you avoid household drudgery anyway, if there was a valid excuse?

You keep plodding on, being fastidious about the chores. It’s probably that you rationalize too much; you reason that if you don’t do your fair share, clean the bin and take out the garbage, you are sub-human. But yet, if you do none of that you still deserve to live a life in modern suburbia because chores are what everyone does, but they are not mandatory.

Having a perfectly kept house is not real. I figured it’s a mental construct; a figment of my imagination. For all I cared, deep down I may be a closet anarchist. I acquired a spring in my step the day I left it to friends to realize that I may be sloppy at times. You could be untidy too, at least at times. We are not on this planet to please each other, we have our reasons to avoid chores — we may be a tad messy, but we are being ourselves and being human.

I emerged gradually from my comfort zone and tapped into my wellspring of inspiration. I got into the habit of writing right after I had procrastinated on some tidying up and each time I did that I felt a rush of blood to my head. It happens. The reason is that I was playing truant. My must-do routine was left behind for a while, and it can be deeply humanizing.

Being a great partner has its pluses, but being the model urban dweller makes you an also-ran, which is not life.

Image by melinda257 from Pixabay

I still do a share of my household chores, despite the compulsion I may feel to escape into writing each time I’m faced with cleaning up in the house.
I don’t want to be unreasonable with the near and dear who already appreciate my writing more than my tidiness, which is something very special.

But very often I do avoid the chores, because escapism is always good for writing, and you probably underestimate how good. But, most escapism is accidental. Writers feel they have to constantly find sources of inspiration. But when it was clear to me that I was inspired if I avoided doing tasks that I hated, and started writing instead, it became obvious that escapism would be one of the useful methods in my writer’s bag of tricks.

When this article was written, tasks piled up, and the house became a mess. But I was determined to show everybody around that they should excuse me for that, and that I was, in fact, a nice guy who always made amends.
But certain things must come together for your writing life to flourish.

For my escapist strategy to work, I make sure that certain aspects of my life are neatly coordinated: When I have written my article, and I’m freshly buoyed in spirit after ‘letting it all out’, I make sure that I complete my neglected chores; that the significant others in my house are all given extra consideration; that when my article is published everybody is invited to celebrate with me, as best as we all can.

It’s the chores that I hate, not folk at home. My moments of getting away are genuine and with malice to none, and I think that positive intent always shows up in my writing. I’m sure others have their ways of deriving inspiration, and perhaps they are escapist in other ways.

I am in a somewhat enviable position of having people who understand me. There are others I know who may not be as lucky, but they should not be deterred. There would be other forms of escapism. I’m proud of my way of finding a path to escape and be inspired, but smart may people find other more daring forms of truancy — and some may end up making a few people cross; but yet, they can find ways to make amends.

It’s up to you to find the form of escapism, and the level of neglect that follows, that you are comfortable with. But do go with the flow.

Be that human that’s struggling to be you.

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Rajpal Abeynayake
Practicing attorney at law, and contributing writer to South China Morning Post and Nikkei Asian Review. Public Affairs and Public Relations consultant. As an attorney at law, he practices in the Supreme Court and Appeal Court of Sri Lanka and has specialized in public interest litigation. Rajpal was the Editor in Chief of the Sunday Observer and the Daily News published in Colombo Sri Lanka, and the Lakbimanews English language weekly, of which he was the founder editor. He has been previously published in the Singapore Straits Times regularly and was an opinion writer whose column won him the Editors’ Guild Columnist of the Year award. He was a member of the World Association of Newspapers' Facebook expert group. AMIC (Asia Media Information and Communications Centre) has curated a collection of papers he wrote and presented on media-related issues. A short audiobook written by him on China and the so-called digital firewall is available in Audible. Rajpal writes across genres and is passionate about raising important issues facing underprivileged communities, wherever they may be. He believes in empowering people through his writing. More can be read here


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