Why you’ll never hear from me on a Monday Morning

There’s a reason you’ll never hear from me on a Monday morning.

Mondays are holy.

Forget everything you’ve ever heard about them being Manic. Forget that Boomtown hatred of them. Mondays are golden. They are a special place, they are in fact a sanctuary….

Monday Morning

It’s Monday morning, something before 9am. I’m back in from my run. When I left, a little over an hour ago, Paw Patrol was belting out of the telly. I was a whirlwind of lunchbox packing action, a snow storm of clothes, pompoming down over the heads of my children, soft and gentle. I was a thunderclap of toothbrush and paste, a bright June sunshine freckling their faces with kisses. And then, I was gone.

Out onto the street, feet finding their beat, following the route, listening to stories of god, of singularity and unified thinking. I was hot breath and steady heart, I was tree and earth and sky and cloud. I was glad shade and the home sprint.


And when I get home, they are gone. The house is empty. A shell of its former activity. The silence is ghostly, albeit more Casper than Poltergeist (though the wreckage they have left behind speaks a different story). I step through the quiet reverentially. I stretch, shower and dress, make tea and butter-meltingly hot toast then slip into my office.

Because Monday morning is the day of the week I have consecrated, given over to my creative writing. A solid slab of time where the intentions and the deadlines are all self-set. Here is my arena for play and the only rule is that it is absolutely 100% completely and utterly forbidden for me to do anything else other than turn up to my writing.

Inhabiting Sanctuary

The routine of it, the rigour and the discipline I have applied over the past 9 months to creating, developing and inhabiting this sanctuary have made it easier to do, as anything we make rote in our lives is wont to become. But it isn’t easy.

There are after all emails. There’s Friday’s unfinished business. The myriad deadlines for others I have committed to that need to be met. There’s all the jobs that didn’t get done over the weekend, the life admin that can only be undertaken Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. I push all these away. It takes practice. It is a practice in fact. Each Monday I build up the muscles to shove the ceaselessly demanding world to one side, for a few hours and declare myself to the muse, say to her, ‘Here I am, let’s write.’

I am a huge advocate for the ‘write a little every day’ method. Huge. I’ve done that and used the approach to draft a novel. I’ve amended the practice, changed and challenged when I write, and what I write and for how long. I’ve replaced it with writing anchors, safe harbours in my week where writing happens (Tuesday evenings, Friday lunchtimes, a little every evening just before bed. And Monday mornings).

Brick Wall

What I’ve learnt over the years is this: for me with writing it isn’t either little and often or a big sturdy chunk once a week, it’s both/and. And I’m not alone. This is a path that has worked for so many of my writing mentors.

Last year was tough. I’ll write about it sometime. It is enough, for now, to say I reached a brick wall with a piece of writing I had committed to. I kept reaching the brick wall, repeatedly throwing myself at it, hoping that enough courage and optimism and sheer will would make it come right. One bruised summer evening I curled up with Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and as sometimes happens when we land a book just at our point of greatest need, everything changed: The prism of perception shifted and a new rainbow of light shone through. For a while I continued with my daily writing, abandoning the novel and instead gifting myself one of Natalie’s essays each morning that the children were in childcare, allowing myself to write for a half hour off the back of her words. I worked one essay at a time, consecutively. Then, a few mornings into this routine the book flew open on an essay towards the back entitled ‘Every Monday’:

Every Monday

Every Monday last winter, my dear friend Kate and I wrote together. We met at nine in the morning and wrote until about two or three in the afternoon. Sometimes she showed up with an idea: “Let’s write about divisions. Okay? Go for an hour.” Because there were only the two of us, when the writing sessions were over, we read aloud to each other the whole of what we wrote. It was a lot, with hands moving the whole time.

We tried out writing in different cafés, once even driving an hour south to Owatonna, Minnesota, so I could show her the bank designed by Louis Sullivan that I was in love with. We wrote in the coffee shop across the street. I was unemployed then, looking for a job. She was on a writing grant.

I tell you this because it is important. We were willing to commit ourselves to a whole day of writing each week because writing, sharing and friendship are important. And it happened on a Monday, the beginning of the work week. Remember this. Remember Kate and me on Mondays when nothing in your life seems worthwhile but earning a living and you find yourself worried about it.”

Writing Mojo

It’s a beautiful essay. Her whole book is a beautiful essay. If you haven’t got a copy, treat yourself. If you’ve lost your writing mojo she may just help you relocate it. Or if not Natalie Goldberg another writer will. Keep looking, keep reading till you find them.

Writing changes the world. It changes our world as we write, it changes other peoples’ worlds when they read those words. I read ‘Every Monday’ and was haunted by it for weeks, began plotting and planning when I could become Natalie and Kate, when I could commit myself to Mondays. It was the summer holidays. Committing to anything just for myself was in short supply, but I dreamt of September. When she arrived, fresh as a promised autumn breeze but still carrying the warm fullness of summer, I stepped into that first Monday morning like a person embarking on an illicit affair. Anxiety dampened my palms, my heart beat itself right up into my throat which contracted, pushing it back down to the butterflied belly that screamed, ‘Don’t go to the café, what are you doing? This is madness. Get to your desk, get to work.’

Where’s the bikeshed?

I ordered coffee and cracked open my laptop. I chose a table with a lamp and switched it on. I began writing a silly story about a pumpkin farm. It made me chuckle. I ordered tea. When I left I walked into the charity shop next door and bought a red 1940s-style hat, imagining myself to be Agatha Christie. Was it silly? Hell yes. As it should be. But that’s for another post.

Look at your schedule. When can you commit to your writing? Where is the bikeshed in your life behind which you can meet with your mate the muse and spark up the cigarette of writing, heady and careless, immortal as youth? I encourage you to find it. I encourage you to make the secret space, the den, the clubhouse of time to your writing and go there regularly. Your one wild and precious life will thank you for it.


What about YOUR writing?

If you are interested in finding some time for your writing why not join one of our free weekly writing rooms – either on a Tuesday evening at 8pm or a Friday lunchtime at 12pm?

If you’d like to have a chat about your own writing project and ideas you can book a free 30-minute chat with me via Calendly

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