If You Give a Writer an Assignment


Just using the word “writer” in the title of this post makes me cringe. I don’t consider myself a “writer,” especially since most of my words stay in my head and never see the light of day. But occasionally, people who know I like to play with words invite me to work on writing projects. I hadn’t really worked on anything in years, but a couple of weeks ago I was given an opportunity to help with an assignment.

I knew I hadn’t blogged or journaled or written much more than a grocery list on a regular basis in awhile, but I had no idea how out of writing shape I was until I sit down to actually write.

I love to write…in my head. The words come fast and freely. To actually get the words out of my head and into a black and white form that can be shared with others isn’t as easy. I don’t have ADD, but when I sit down to write, I am my own biggest distraction.

I thought I’d share with you this play-by-play account of what happened last Wednesday when I sat down to work on the new project:


Told kids I had a project I needed to work on for half an hour. Asked them to find something quiet to do so I could have a little bit of quiet space.

Sat down at computer to write.

Checked email to make sure nothing urgent was in my inbox that needed my immediate attention. Found four emails that needed a quick response. Responded to the two easy ones and ignored the rest.

Decided I should check Facebook so I wouldn’t be tempted to check it later. Spent way too much time rewinding through the newsfeed.

Refereed fight between kids. Made an idle threat or two.

Clinked on link to an article someone posted on FB newsfeed.

Clinked on link to another article that was mentioned in the first link.

Opened document file to begin writing project.

Began first paragraph.

Wasn’t sure about the punctuation in the first sentence. Went online to google punctuation rules. Disagreed with the references I found.

Remembered I had a book downstairs that might support my punctuation opinion. Ran downstairs to get it.

Saw plate of cookies on kitchen counter. Grabbed one for energy.

Found book. Looked for punctuation rule that used to be in there and discovered it must have disappeared.

Ran back by counter and grabbed another two more cookies.

Noticed someone had made a comment on a post on my Facebook wall. Responded to comment.

Went back to paragraph. Changed punctuation of the first sentence.

Decided that maybe some background music would be inspirational and might chase out the song earworm that has been burrowing in my brain for three days.

Pulled up Spotify and decided maybe listening to the song earworm would actually help. Listened to song. It didn’t help.

Remembered that I want to teach the kids a Christmas carol in Hawaiian, so I looked up a few on Spotify. Realized that iTunes would have more options, so  pulled up iTunes.

Found several that were promising. Decided to compare the songs between artists to see which one was better. Couldn’t decided so downloaded several.

Googled the Hawaiian lyrics. Made a new document file to cut and paste lyrics and tried to print them out only to find out that the black ink cartridge was empty. Changed cartridge.

Attempted to print lyrics again.

Cleared paper jam.

Last try to print lyrics was successful.

Listened to songs while reading the lyrics to make sure they matched. Some didn’t. Researched lyrics that would actually match the song. Found them. Cut and pasted them into document.

Attempted to print revised lyrics.

Cleared paper jam.

Printed revised lyrics.

Oh, yeah! The writing project. Wondered if my lack of focus and discipline could be why it takes me so long to write one stinking article.

Wondered if my friend Deb who is an actual writer gets distracted as easily as I do.

Sent her a  ridiculously long message on Facebook chronicling all of the above events to ask her if she gets as easily distracted as I do when she’s trying to write. She does.

Remembered that I didn’t actually take the chicken for tonight’s dinner out of the freezer.

Researched Pinterest for quick supper ideas.

Realized that I had none of the ingredients needed for any of the quick supper ideas I found.

Gave myself ten more minutes to work so I could go downstairs and try to salvage supper.

Decided maybe the time pressure was effective because I was finally getting in the flow and making some headway.

In the middle of the best sentence ever written in the history of words, was called downstairs because the kids had locked us out of my bathroom.

Knew the answer to the “why” question would leave me wanting, but asked anyway. Was left wanting.

At the scene of the crime, discovered that in their attempt to “fix it” so that I would never know, they had disassembled the doorknob so that it was hanging on by only a screw.

Tried to use my calm voice to explain to children that this is not what I had in mind when I asked them to find a quiet activity that wouldn’t disturb me.

Sent the children repeatedly to and from their father’s toolbox to bring me various and sundry screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, chisels, and the like.

Felt a little guilty for telling the child who did this that if a locksmith had to be called, the money would be subracted from his Christmas.

Assured same child I wasn’t serious and that all would be well. Hoped to myself I just hadn’t told another untruth to the child.

Remembered  Sus had recently survived a similar lockout with her closet door and texted her for advice and encouragement. She didn’t have much.

Miraculously and undoubtedly because God is kind and must like my kids, used some mysterious combination of tools and actually unlocked the door.

Thanked God that being a military wife has made me resourceful.

Patted myself on the back for being so handy.

Pondered a good theme song for the DIY show on HGTV that was surely in my future.

Thanked God again for helping me out in my time of need, even when I have a tendency to take all the credit.

Decided to work on the project another day.



Filed under Blogging

6 responses to “If You Give a Writer an Assignment

  1. If you had asked me for a recipe or an opinion on (insert celebrity gossip headline here), I’d have SO been there for you. The locked door that requires hardware? Not so much.

  2. Linda

    Priceless. Ever so true. Have come to ‘my space’ to write the Christmas letter every day for five days–lots of FB, news, and Pinterest-but no letter. Have a smashing time with Mom and Chris and know that the ‘Whole world loves the Larson/Ables Family’ and we wish you a Merry Kalikimaka and are sending our love and prayers. Two thumbs up on the doorknob! Matt got his head stuck between the seat bottom and the back of the chair when he was little; Dad was gone natch- after the usual attempts to dislodge his melon failed, is brother, only twenty two months older than Matt
    ran and got a screw driver! Thank you Lord for boy genes!

  3. Betty

    You are too funny. I guess you got the title of your post from “If you give a pig a pancake”. Love anything you write!

  4. haha sounds like every time I try and sit down and write!

  5. Yup … My children are in school (Read: out of my house) six hours every day and I am still this perfectly distracted with writing projects. I don’t get it.

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