Terminal Chaos and Writer’s Mayhem

Have you ever had one of those airport moments that left you dragging your suitcases on an all out run for a connecting flight?

On our family vacation this year, we had a connecting flight that was scheduled to take off fifteen minutes after we got off the first plane. When I asked the flight attendant before landing about the timing, she said, “No big deal.”

At that moment I was not feeling all of the Christian love flowing, if you know what I mean. The reel in my head was playing, “No big deal? Are you nuts?” She obviously had never done this with four young children, one husband, seven suitcases, four blankets and three stuffed animals.

When we finally disembarked with all of our luggage, we looked up our flight number on the departure board. And, yes, it was on the opposite side of the airport. This began our magical sprint down the corridor, precious piggy Pillow Pet and all.

Part way through our journey half of the crew needed a bathroom break. Horrible as it is, I told them they would just have to wait. It’s hard to cross your legs when you are running, so I prayed for a temporary underwear drought.

I vowed this year to get in better shape, but this airport boot camp wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. We arrived at our departure gate with two minutes to spare. Much to the despair of the ticketing agent, I informed her that half of my family would be taking a bathroom break before boarding.

At this point, my irrational reasoning ran along the lines of, “Lady, if you didn’t work for an employer that believed in ‘The Biggest Loser’ Airport Edition, we wouldn’t be having this problem.” Like she could do anything about it, or the fact that the plane was going to leave any minute.

Thankfully, the ticketing agent was more gracious than I was because we managed to take a bathroom break and board the plane before take off. When I fastened my seat belt and wiped the sweat from my forehead, I began to form a new airport layout in my head to send to the owners of all the airlines.

Those of you who know me well, realize that I just might do this, brainstorm a solution for my airport nightmare. But as I sat there, I began to realize that a writer’s life is a lot like an airport. Responsibilities have a gate all their own and the distance between obligations leaves us frantically sprinting to keep everything running.

Here is my airport solution for writer’s chaos:

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Baggage. No is sometimes a hard word to say, but it is one of the most liberating words in the English language. Make a list of all of your obligations.

Think like an air traffic controller, identify the priority level for each item from most to least important. Look at the bottom of your list and ask yourself, what are some things that I can eliminate.

Look at your list for the most time consuming responsibilities and ask yourself if you are really called to do those things, or if they are really necessary. Try to trim one of your most time consuming obligations and you will find a new freedom.

2. Keep Connecting Tasks Together. None of this sprinting across the airport and back every time you need to do something. If you have to write five blogs for the week, do them on one day of the week. Streamlining tasks into a schedule is very helpful when you are time crunched, it also helps you keep your mind organized. So, Monday could be blog day, Tuesday to Thursday are writing days, and Friday is connecting with other writers day, etc. If you are like me, this schedule is a bit more full, but you get the idea.

3. Keep A Task Organized List. Without a departure schedule, the airport would be a disaster for travelers. At the beginning of each week, write down a list of your obligations and work them into your schedule. At that time you will notice if you are overloaded.

Don’t be afraid to cut the list down by enlisting the help of others. Let yourself cross off the things you complete, it helps you feel a sense of accomplishment.

4. Plan For The Worst Case Scenario. There are times when inclement weather shuts down an airport and planes need to be rerouted to the nearest airport. In your writing life you will get extremely busy when you have deadlines or family obligations.

Plan ahead for disaster. Write an extra blog every week and put it in a saved file for weeks that are too busy for you to get anything done. Plan a backup pal who is willing to help you during a crunch week to cover an obligation. Next to each task on your list, write down a few names of those who might be able to help you when chaos hits.

5. Take care of yourself. The airport shuts down for maintenance and cleaning a certain time every night. You need personal maintenance, too.

Sleep, healthy habits and devotional time with God will keep you refreshed and managing life’s traffic like a pro.

6. Set Rules of Operation. You will need to set work boundaries in your life so that it doesn’t flow too much into your family life. It is super easy to get sucked in by the next contest or deadline. Even if you are experiencing terminal chaos, try to keep it from overflowing into your family time. It won’t be worth it in the long run. Review your priorities often to make sure that they are appropriately consuming your time.

What is the worst airport moment you’ve ever had? What do you do to avoid the all out panic of a fifteen minute flight window in your personal life?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

4 thoughts on “Terminal Chaos and Writer’s Mayhem

  1. Beth K. Vogt says:

    You are brilliant, Michelle. B-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t. I love how you take real life situations (almost disasters) and turn them into teaching times.

    Airport scenario: Oh,so many, after traveling as a military family with little kiddos:
    How about the time we were flying overseas. First leg of the journey. Wa-ay overpacked. Just got to the top of the stairs in PA Station (took the train to the airport.) The strap holding all our luggage together on a rickety luggage carrier broke and all the suitcases went tumbling down the steps . . .
    Not good.
    Lesson: Don’t overload your life with too many commitments. If you know you have a deadline, you have to say no to other things. Yes, even lunch with friends. Yes, even good, seemingly necessary things. Travel light for a while.

  2. Melissa Tagg says:

    Awesome post, Michelle. This is great stuff!

    Honestly, I’ve had really great airport experiences. I can only think of once when I almost broke down in tears at an airport and I think that was more jet lag than anything.

    Your “take care of yourself” pointer is where I need work now. When my pillow feels like a stranger, I have a problem. 🙂

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    Taking care of yourself is sometimes the most difficult for those of us who have passion driving our dreams!

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