You Don’t Have to Make Your Bed to Write a Book

Donald Miller

When it’s time to write, my mind quickly finds a reason not to sit down and face the terror of the blank page.

Normally, these distractions come in the form of odds and ends I convince myself must be taken care of before I sit down to do my work. These odds and ends are usually mundane and hardly more important than the work.

I chose the distraction of an unmade bed because it symbolizes something, it symbolizes that we may feel the need to have all our affairs in order before we can concentrate. But only recently, and after six books, I’m just going to call it what it is. It’s an excuse. A good book can be written in the same house as an unmade bed. Or a checkbook out of order, or even a relationship that needs tending to.

*Photo by E. Orpin, Creative Commons

It’s not that those things can go without being dealt with forever, it’s just that if we are writers, preachers, teachers, doctors or even fathers and mothers, what matters most is the job set before us. Perhaps it’s time to call an excuse an excuse.

Here are some basic truths to remember when we’re tempted to put off our work:

1. The writing is more important than the unmade bed. But this doesn’t mean our beds will never be made. It just means they will be made after we complete our writing.
2. An unmade bed has no negative measurable impact in eternity. An unfinished book probably does.
3. We will feel much better, and be much less distracted dealing with mundane tasks, important as they may be for the quality of our lives, if our calling is tended to first.
It’s important than that we wake up and tackle our calling while the sun is still coming up. Anything else is a trick. You’ve only so much mental energy, and if you use the best of your capacities to tackle the tasks of your calling, your work will be better. And not only this, but by doing the mundane tasks while constantly worrying about the more important job left undone, we’re spending twice the mental energy than we would were we to tackle the more important priorities first.

So, let’s wake up, make a mental list of what’s most important, tackle it at the first available opportunity and spend the rest of our days tending to the maintenance tasks without the burden of the more important stuff weighing on our shoulders.

What’s the calling you’re neglecting? Can we promise, together, to learn to tackle them first?

-Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at and grow their business at Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.