Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

All summer, when I was in a recess from teaching middle school, I had
plenty of time to be creative. For me that meant starting to learn how
to paint with watercolors and outlining my idea for a young adult
series. But now that school is back in session, I can’t seem to find time
to write or paint or even just lounge with a book to read for more than
20 minutes at a time. It’s not just grading and lesson planning, but the
complicated schedules my husband and I share, which has made us
put an emphasis on dining together on weeknights and cleaning
together on weekends. I take a yoga class two nights a week but
that’s not the same thing as feeling creative. I miss my freedom. Can
you help?


Dear Yearning:

It is important to set reasonable expectations. You won’t have the
same unlimited time as you did in summer. But you can carve out two
or three times during the week that are “yours” beyond yoga,
housework, and work-work. Let’s assume Friday and Saturday are
date nights with your hubby, and Sunday night is school prep. If you
can spring Sunday from work you will get three sessions to yourself
beyond yoga.

First, set up a room or at least a desk and a chair that is your
designated creative space. Allow yourself to leave your projects there
in whatever state of organization (or even disorganization) that you
like. If you have a door to close all the better. Second, ask your hubby
if he will be responsible for meal prep one night a week, say
Wednesday. When you get home that day, go to your play space and
breathe for ten minutes. Let your ideas for what you want to do later
float around in your brain so they sound exciting. Write down what
seems important. Have dinner with your hubby and kiss him goodbye;
then go to your creative space and let yourself have two-three hours
to do whatever you please, even if it turns out to be reading a book or
napping. Ditto for Sunday afternoons. The first few times you do this,
the freedom to be creative may surprisingly sap your energy rather
than enhance it. But you will find your sea legs and once you start to
write, and your characters feel more alive, you will be drawn to it,
even called.

November is a month dedicated to writing. Google NANOWRIMO
(national novel writing month) If you can find even ten minutes a day
to jot down ideas, one paragraph or one scene, or even just an idea, in
a notebook you carry with you or an email you send yourself, you will
become inspired. By next November you may even have made a big
head start on your book. In the interim you will start to develop better