What John Updike Said…..

The dishes can wait
The dishes can wait

I know what John Updike said.  Jon’s told me many times, and I’ve even repeated it to other people, sharing the wisdom of how to focus on your creative work when you work from home.   The mantra is:  Mornings are for creative work,  you get up and get to work.  A writer (Updike’s talking about writing but it can be applied to any work)  can be originally creative for 3-4 hours a day.  The rest of the day is used for grunt work (my words, editing for a writer, piecing together quilts, shipping etc. for me) and chores.

It’s a good rule for me.   I’m a morning person, it’s when I’m at my best, by the time 9pm rolls around I’m ready for bed.  But even if you’re not a morning person, if you tweak it a bit, to your most creative time of the day or night, it’s a good rule.  The point being, don’t waist your creative time balancing the check book.  (unless your a book keeper that is).

So, like I said, I know this and it’s worked for me in the past, but somehow, over the past few weeks, I’ve strayed from it.  After feeding the animals and then ourselves, I’ve been finding myself at my computer, doing my email and shipping and yes, even balancing my check book.   No great sin, except that I’ve been having a hard time focusing and concentrating when I finally make it to the studio, sometimes not till after lunch. So when I mentioned this to Jon yesterday, he brought up  Updike’s Golden Creative Rule.

The strange thing is I didn’t even realize I had gotten off track as much as I had.  And when I thought about getting up and getting right to work, something dark inside of me lit up.   It was as if we had won an all expense paid vacation to some quiet getaway for a week.  Freedom was the feeling, the freedom of going to my studio without having to do a mornings worth of  chores first.    Such a simple thing really, just a habit to get back into.

So this morning, when I woke up, I thought of John Updike and my studio waiting for me.  And just in case I forgot, Jon was there to remind me.    As I turned on the water to wash the breakfast dishes,  he yelled from his study, “The dishes can wait, remember what John Updike said”.

11 thoughts on “What John Updike Said…..

  1. I am a morning person, too, Maria. I love to get up and into my studio early. I love to hear the birds waking up, I love to hear the silence of the country around me. But being a creative person makes me different from most of my friends. It’s nice to find someone else who understands how it feels to be creative and have to get that creativity ‘out’. I think when I die people will look back and say…all she did was work on her quilts and then what….and you know, they don’t understand that it is the process that interests me more than the end result. I am being nurtured, I am being energized, I am being creative. That’s what they don’t understand. I’m alive when I am creating something. I don’t have to set the world on fire with my designwork but if it makes me happy, that’s all that matters. But I do do the dishes. And I don’t do socks. My husband does his own laundry, heaven knows I have so much laundry with the B&B sheets and towels that he does his own and it’s good he does otherwise, he’d go around in a messy state, indeed.
    SandyP in Canada

  2. Well, I sure needed the John Updike reminder, too, so thanks for sharing this with us. I’ve been wondering why it takes me months to finish handsewing the binding onto two nearly-finished quilts I have lurking. Of course, I do go to work at 8 am but when I come home there is not much left of my eyes or my energy.

  3. WOW! I LOVE THIS! I’ve never heard it before. And, when I think about it, first thing in the morning is my most purpose-filled time. Annie

  4. This is good advice. I only wish thoughts of mundane work needing to be completed didn’t crowd out creative thoughts during this time. I think it’s the curse of every worrier.

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