Just make the pancakes.

The other night, I decided to make breakfast for dinner. There’s a thrill in deviating from the norm, isn’t there? But, the real reason I opted for flapjacks was that they’re easy.

I had a list of writing projects on my mind. I worked on a few pieces during the afternoon and then found myself short on time for dinner. Keep the meal simple, I thought, easy and stress-free. But, even as I whipped together the batter without cracking open a book (we have breakfast for dinner often), I still created my own little chaos.

I studied the clock and wondered how long it might take to get things cooking along. I calculated the amount of edits I might get done during my late night writing time. I felt the pressure of self-inflicted deadlines.

Maybe, I figured, I could edit a few sentences here and there, in between batter drips and flips.

Pretty soon, I was praying for an extra set of arms, burning myself on bacon grease, and reading the same sentence over and over. My stomach grumbled, not from hunger but from anxiety, and my head began to swell with whispers from my internal critic.

Watch out that you don’t burn dinner.
Do you even know what your kids are doing right now?
There’s no way you’ll ever finish that story on time.
By the way, that batter’s too thick.

What happened to that quick and easy, stress-free dinner?

Then, I heard that still, small voice that can break through my insanity like the sun, when it cuts through a cloudy day, and I heard a simple solution:

Sometimes, you just make the pancakes.

You put the writing aside.

You let go of the fear of unfinished projects.

Just for now.
Make the dinner.
Listen to some music.
Relax.

Amanda Hoving talks about a similar moment in her post on unruly To-Do lists. She dared to put her list aside; she embraced the day and found respite. She says, “The point is, it will all eventually get done.” She’s right.

Because, do you know what happened? I flipped one pancake at a time, cooked up some mean bacon, and set a lovely table for breakfast…well, dinner. Then, I smothered my inner critic in syrupy goodness, so that she stayed quiet the rest of the night.

And that writing? Little by little, those stories are coming together. I even sent out one submission before the deadline.

It’s Sunday.
A perfect day to bask in the steam from that cup of coffee.
To mix up some bread dough and knead, knead, knead.
Go ahead.
Make pancakes for dinner.

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13 responses to “Just make the pancakes.

  1. As Anne Lamott might say, Christi, pancake by pancake. 🙂 This is a terrific post. Whenever I’m conscious of being more mindful, everything goes better. Thank you for the timely reminder.

    • I love that reference to Anne Lamott. I just saw her by the way. Talk about an author who takes life one minute at a time — she worked the whole room with such grace and ease!

  2. Thanks for the mention, Christi. Yes, “Sometimes, you just make the pancakes.” I have to remind myself of that all the time, to ensure that my family will have memories of me other than staring blankly passed them while my mind is at work. The writing can (and must) wait. Sometimes.

  3. I love that phrase “self inflicted deadlines” … it really does put things in perspective! I’m working on breathing this weekend … your post adds onto that reminder.

    And you submitted a story before the deadline, and the others are coming together. Isn’t it amazing how that works?

  4. Excellent advice, Christi! Often we’re more productive when we don’t force the issue. All work and no play, you know. 🙂

    • Yep, Linda. I think you’re right about not forcing the issue. I’ve been trying to force a short story into submission (in more ways than one), and I think I’ve finally settled on the fact that this story is not meant to go out just yet, and it isn’t meant to drive me crazy today either. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. I can sooooo relate to this post … yes, smother the inner critic!

    Have a terrific week, Christi.

  6. This is so funny–and so true to my life–I just recently burned an entire dinner when I stepped out of the room “for a minute” to attend to writerly business. YIKES. Just for now. Make the dinner. Words to live by 🙂

    • Oh, yeah. As I type this comment, I see I’ve been at my laptop for an hour. I only planned on a quick ten 🙂 It’s hard to break away once the juices get flowing! Thanks for stopping by, Julia.

  7. Pingback: A Mindfulness Quiz | Writing Life

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