Spring and the Writer


Spring has sprung in New Jersey, a week or so early and completely welcome to this lover of warm weather. Unfortunately, the writer in me dreads spring. Why?

When I think back to my high school days, I realize I have always been a victim of that insidious disease, Spring Fever. When the crocuses pop up, the March winds blow, and the robins begin singing in the trees, all of my good intentions to stay focused go out the window. My spirit longs to get outdoors and play.

Writing is a difficult career to pursue for so many reasons, and one of the biggest challenges for me is self-motivation. There are so many responsibilities in life — children, dogs, house cleaning, food shopping, meal preparation, exercising, doctor appointments, volunteer work – that pull me away from my computer. Then there are the insistent distractions of the internet and social networking that rear their heads. So as a writer, winter is a welcome season. The enticement to stay indoors, where it is cozy and warm, and sit and write, is strong.

But spring…ah, spring. The draw to get out in the gardens and clear them, to get my hands in the dirt, to discover what perennials are popping up, what bulbs are blooming (or being eaten, to my frustration, by the deer and rabbits), what birds are house hunting in my backyard habitat, is one I cannot resist. Did someone say word count?

This year, I am determined to do it all…write, enjoy the weather, and keep my house and family in relative order. Here are some possible solutions I’ve come up with.


In college, I was big into schedules. I literally mapped out each day in 15-minute increments, and kept to the schedule…whether it was school, work, internship, or play time, it was written down. I’m digging deep to find that Type-A person. It seems my Type-B husband has rubbed off on me quite a bit over the past seventeen years.

I bet if I started scheduling every day (and scheduling the time to make up the next day’s schedule), I could squeeze in everything I need to get done.


Okay, maybe a schedule worked better for me when I was only responsible for myself and a 600-square-foot apartment. It might be tough with kids in the mix. (Hint: Everything is tougher with kids in the mix.)

So, although I might not schedule every day like I did back then, I will resurrect the habit of making lists. I don’t expect to get everything done every day, but having something to work off of will help. Of course, writing is going to have to come first. With luck and a little perseverance, that bike I just tuned up will get a lot of use this year. My gardens will certainly get a lot of attention, as always. My family (and the dogs) will eat, and the volunteer work will continue.

Of all the things on my daily list, I am willing to bet one thing will stay “uncrossed-off” more than any other…housework. I never did claim to be Super-Mom! And who came up with that concept, anyway? I bet it was a man.

Alternate days

Maybe I’m approaching this all wrong. Maybe, instead of trying to do everything every day, I should switch off.  I could combine the two ideas of the schedule and the list, like in that old traditional list of chores:

  • Monday – Washing
  • Tuesday – Ironing
  • Wednesday – Mending
  • Thursday – Marketing
  • Friday – Baking
  • Saturday – Cleaning
  • Sunday – Day of Rest

Only my list would look like this:

  • Monday – Write, laundry, exercise
  • Tuesday – Write, garden
  • Wednesday – Write, wash floors, trim dogs’ nails, ride bike
  • Thursday – Write, clean bathroom, strip beds, wash linens
  • Friday – Write, bike ride
  • Saturday – Garden, play with kids, write
  • Sunday – Make up whatever you didn’t get to during the week

Oops, I left out food shopping. I guess we’ll have to order out every night. But that only takes care of dinner. I can give my kids lunch money, so that takes care of lunch from Monday – Friday (I don’t eat a real lunch). Hmmm, breakfast. What to do?  Okay, Sunday will have to include food shopping, too. Ooh, and volunteer work is missing. Clearly, this list schedule needs more work. After all, what do I do if it rains on Wednesday or Friday? The bike ride is out.

Create an outdoor writing space

Now this idea I like! It has real promise. I can sit outside under the patio umbrella, or in my chaise longue, with a tall glass of something iced, and write. Even better would be an awning, to cut the glare that reflects onto my computer screen from the back of the house. Or a screened room. I wonder if I can convince my husband to put an addition on the house? Or move to a house with a sunroom?

My daughter has a garden shed that she uses as a playhouse. It has big double doors and two windows, and she has a rug and a comfy chair in there, as well as a potting bench she sits at to do homework. Do you think she’d mind if I converted it into a writer’s retreat? She’s not using it during the day anyway, at least, not while school is in session. I’ll worry about summer break when it gets here.

My daughter's garden shed

Of course, Spring Fever doesn’t have to be all bad. I can use it in a positive way, by channeling it into helping with the writing process. How? When I am outside exercising or working in the garden, my body is busy doing one thing, while my mind is somewhere else. I’ve done serious amounts of plotting while walking my three-mile circuit. I’ve worked through tough scenes and killed off characters plunging my shovel into the soil. Conflicts have been resolved with the snip of the loppers, and whole new story ideas have come to mind while preparing a new flower bed.

So I will embrace my Spring Fever, and use it for the good of my writing process.

And you? How do you fare, once Spring starts to bloom? Do you resist the pull, or embrace it? Please share…I’d love to hear your ideas.

Happy Spring!




Leave a comment


  1. Nicole Doran

     /  March 12, 2012

    Janet (Jaye),
    I get it totally. I love your lists BTW-except in my house laundry has to get done every day – or I’m a slave to it. (I think my neighbors come and dump their dirty clothes at night). I’m a May baby- and Spring has always felt “right’ to me..I’m invigorated, I love to smell the spring air, and see the flowers budding. Hopefully this sense of get up and go translates to me plopping in front of my computer. I’m hoping!! It’s hard with kids/life/pets/husband..I know. I love the stories of those writers who get their books done while the kids napped..my kids never napped. That explains it!
    Great post…and Happy Spring…and list writing….and scheduling…etc.etc.LOL

    • Hi, Nicole. Thanks for visiting!

      I hear you about the kids not napping…although they did always sleep through the night, so that was a big plus.

      The spring air is calling to me right now, as I search for final round judges for PYHIAB. Must….resist..

      You are right…I do have a lot more energy in the spring, and seem to get a LOT more done in a day. In winter, I just want to hibernate with the bears, lol!

      Enjoy this fabulous weather!


  2. Actually, I love Spring. My writing habits change. I move outdoors with my AlphaSmart rather than my computer–no worry about glare or Internet distractions. I usually sit at the dock on the Arthur Kill and write after having lunch with Hubby. I get more writing done this time of year. New ideas arrive with the warm weather. Just love it.

  3. Hi, Pat! So glad you stopped by!

    Ah, an AlphaSmart…I have to look into that. I love to sit by the water and write, too…but I usually only move on to that after my gardens are in shape, lol! Those pesky gardens – so much work. I love having all the flowers around, though. They make my yard a haven.

    Enjoy the spring, Pat, and happy writing!


  4. I don’t do much with flowers except the the ones that come back every year, but I do herb pots on the back deck. It’s a little early yet for them. I’m so spoiled with my herb garden to cook from. I keep telling Hubby we need a thick, glass cellar door so I can put all my herb pots there for the winter and they’d still stay warm and get lots of sun. It says that’s the writer in me developing a fantasy that would not be cost effective. lol. The logic of engineers, they kill the dream.

  5. Nice post! Please tell me those photos came from your house. I will be so impressed!

    I don’t know whether it’s spring fever or letdown from JeRoWriMo, but I haven’t been very productive this last week. Your lists gave me some good ideas!

    • Yes…the crocuses are what are left from the deer and rabbits this year…depressing since I usually have a whole bed of them under the dogwood tree. The shed is my daughter’s playhouse, and the last photo is my backyard patio garden as it looked last May (one corner of it). I basically have gardens everywhere, though.

      I had a productive day, so I’m feeling energized. And I got to go for a bike ride, too!

  6. Lori

     /  March 12, 2012

    Did I see anytime for reading on the list/schedule? I am such an indoor person it is horrible, and my dog is worse than me. He goes out to pee and wants right back in. Love the post Jaye. BTW I am dying to know who you got as a judge for the PHYIAB contest. 🙂

    • Ooh, Lori…good point! Reading usually happens after the day’s duties are done…when I’m in bed for the night. I also bring my book wherever I take the kids…there’s usually a short period of waiting for them to get out of their activities.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Great post, Jaye. I love the pictures of your daughter’s playhouse and your gardens. I long for my own writing retreat. Heck, I’d even be happy with a door so I can close out the world when I write. The dining room table just leaves too much room for interruptions. And, I’m very impressed with the ironing and mending tasks on your schedule. They’re 2 of my most avoided household tasks.

    I’ve been feeling antsy myself and figure, like you, it’s a case of spring fever. Today I had the windows open in the house while I worked from home and enjoyed the scent of spring in the air. For me, spring time naturally forces me to be more active. I’m at softball games and running kids to activities. And I think being active, overall, gets both the body and mind moving and energizes our creativeness. So, keep up your 3-mile circuit. When you feel healthier, I think you’re more motivated to do things…like WRITE!!!!

  8. Hi, Maria, I hear ya about the chores (and the dining room table).
    The ironing and mending are on the old list. Although I do iron all of our clothes, I’m horrible with the mending!

    You’re right about activity energizing you. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like winter…I’m just not inspired to get outdoors when it’s freezing out! I totally understand why people move to southern California, where the weather is a constant.


  9. Jenna Blue

     /  March 12, 2012

    I just love this. You sound just like me, all gung ho on a new plan and backpedaling for life the next! ; )

    I think all your readers had spring fever today–not many of us made it to the computer it seems…they’ll catch up with you, I’m sure!

    Meanwhile: LOVE those pictures! Are those really yours! I’d like to borrow you…our yard/plantings are basically patches of mud. Still haven’t managed to grow much grass even after the renovation, and as you know, not exactly my forte!

    Jenna Blue

  10. Jenna,
    It seems I always have the best intentions, but never seem to be able to put things in motion, lol!

    I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂 I keep changing my mind.

    Any time you want help with landscaping, let me know…I’ve often thought I should go into that field. I love planting and planning and shopping for interesting flowers!


  11. The pictures of your gardens are beautiful. The shed is the perfect size for a writer’s room and removed yet not too far from the family. Reading your post made me miss my lovely writing room that has been in use for another purpose this past year. That reminds me, I need to check the real estate listings today.

    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  March 14, 2012

      Thanks, Lita!

      Another good thing about the shed is that I still get internet in it.

      Keep checking those real estate listings…you need your writing room back.

      Thanks for stopping by our blog!


  12. Hi Jaye, I love your post. Makes me want to pick up a shovel and dig out the flower bed! I hear you about making time to write. Life always seems to get in the way. It helps to have such a great group of friends, supporting you all the way! Michele

    • Jaye Marie Rome

       /  March 14, 2012

      Yes, Michele, it does help to have you ladies cheering me on! Thanks so much for all your support!



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