Tennessee Williams on writing...

I'm learning to put myself first. It should be against the law of nature to have to learn to take care of oneself. (It's usually the female who has to learn this - it comes naturally to the male species!)

It certainly isn't something I've ever been encouraged to do. I learned from strong women who were married to strong men. They taught me to take care of the men first, then the children, then the community, and then the church. I don't remember anyone ever telling me to take care of myself. If anyone did, it would have been my mother, my greatest cheer leader and fan.

Taking care of oneself is kind of like money in the bank.

A financial counselor will tell you to pay yourself first before doling out to anyone else. Excellent advice for all of us, especially writers.

I'm slowly realizing that if I don't take care of myself, nobody else will. Knock me over the head. I feel as though I've JUST learned something profound. Shouldn't I already know this at my age?

Why do I feel compelled to take care of everyone in my life except myself? No naps for me. No built in vacations. No time off. I didn't think I was a martyr - but am I?

When it comes time for me, for my writing, I'm so exhausted, mentally and physically, that I work a short time and quit. My mind is clouded with the needs and wants of others.

So, paying oneself is essential to getting the work done. My new way of taking care of my writer self is to write first thing every day before I get exhausted with the cares and woes of the day. Those I can give attention to late in the day when my mind is already full of my own work.

Tennessee Williams said, "When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing." I bet he didn't wear himself out doing things for other people or worrying if he didn't. I bet he would never go to his writing wrung out like a dish cloth. No, I bet he went to his work fresh and ready to do battle with the page, with his characters, his ideas. Like Tennessee, I am only really alive when I am writing.

What do you think about the writer doing his work first? How do you handle writing and the rest of your life. Are you like me, writing hit or miss, or are you dedicated and get to your desk first thing every morning?

Look forward to hearing from you.


  1. I'm a firm believer if we don't take care of ourselves and feed our souls, we're always giving to others from the bottom of an empty barrel instead of from a fresh overflow of abundance. Good for you!

    My writing is a priority - after feeding the cats of course.

  2. Great food for thought! My writing partner/mother gave me good advice years ago when I was balancing teaching part-time and writing. Essentially, follow your own rhythm. On my days off from teaching/grading, etc. this meant doing all my 'morning' jobs then about noon settling in to plot/write til about 3 when the school bus started bringing boys home!

  3. Amen to that, sister. The older I get, the more I see the importance of taking care of myself first. If I don't fill my own bowl first, how can I give a portion to someone else in need? There's so much truth in that, and we (the last of the Cinderellas) were always taught to take the chipped plate, leave the last morsel for someone else, take the last place at the table, give the biggest piece to someone more deserving??? Ah ha! And that's the issue: I'm learning to recognize myself as a DESERVING person.

  4. It took me some time to learn this rule about taking care of myself first. As for putting writing time first . . . well, that doesn't always happen. I try to reserve some time every evening for writing, and sometimes this works out and other times it's a while before I have a few minutes to write, and by then I'm too exhausted.

  5. I write whenever the chance presents itself. It could be any time of the day. And yes, it seems that we are always putting everyone and everything else first, then we take care of ourselves. I think that's just the nature of a woman.

  6. Good thoughts here. I totally agree with you! So many put everyone else first and we aren't any good for anyone if we don't care for ourselves first.
    I write when I need to. The house can wait!

  7. Thanks for the wonderful supportive comments. I am going to follow Terri's mantra. I write when I need to and the house can wait! Love it!!! It's so freeing to have someone else tell me it's okay. Is that ridiculous or what???


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