How Many Spoons Can You Juggle?


As this is the first Wednesday in July, I’m talking about ‘spoons’ in my Insecure Writer’s Support Group contribution.

Most people try to juggle too many spoons, taking on too many tasks in a day. But for them the end result is probably not as bad as it is if I take on too much.


Due to my disability, I can only do one task well per day, if that. Each day I have to allocate my time and energy, or ‘spoons’.

The concept of ‘the spoon theory’ was first developed by Christine Miserandino and explained in her article far better than I can do. So read what she says, please.

Wikipedia explains that, “Spoons are an intangible unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity “costs” a certain number of spoons, which might not be replaced until the next day. A person who runs out of spoons loses the ability to do anything other than rest…”

Washing or showering, dressing, and answering emails, all use up the limited number of ‘spoons’ that I wake up with – on good mornings that’s twenty. And if I sleep badly then I start with fewer spoons. Some things, like online gaming and watching TV, use less spoons as my over-active brain switches down a gear.

However, writing requires far more than just one spoon, even when I’m producing garbage. I even use a few spoons at once as I try to do mundane tasks while thinking about book ideas. So yesterday, having washed, dressed, and checked the bank balance, and read my emails, I wanted to rest. Instead I used up another spoon researching ‘dictators’ during a book launch party, then burnt myself out writing this. (Then I rested before editing this piece and posting it.)

Moral: remember to pace yourself and be content with one thing done well.

But I’m not alone as I know quite a few writers that suffer with their health. And I’m sure some of you have juggling problems.

So how you manage your spoons, please?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

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The awesome co-hosts for this July 1 posting of the IWSG are Charity Bradford, S.A. Larsen, AJ, Tamara Narayan, Allison Gammons, and Tanya Miranda! 

14 thoughts on “How Many Spoons Can You Juggle?

  1. I notice that caring for a two and four year old aren’t on the spoon list. If I count them at 5 spoons each, I’m approaching 40 spoons a day. And that doesn’t even count writing. I think I need a vacation to store up some spoons.


    • I think the more kids/people/animals that you care for. does require spoons. The crucial thing is how many you have to start with – and sadly vacations can use up spoons.


  2. I’ve never mentioned this before…and I suppose people who read the comments will now know…but I’m disabled too. Although I’m not in a wheelchair, some things can be difficult for me too. I can only do some things for so long (sitting/standing) without getting too much pain where I have to quit. Too bad we all didn’t go to juggling school.


    • Sorry to hear that you are in a similar situation, Chrys. I’m amazed at the number of writers with health issues. Sure that is not caused by the writing, but rather we need the writing to stay ‘active’ in another way.


  3. As soon as I started reading your post I remembered the Spoons explanation and was glad for the reminder… it’s so important for those of us who have to watch our energy, and for those who don’t, to remember to pay attention!


    • Even you, Alex, need to watch those spoons – well in fact especially people like you. I get the impression you are one of those guys that never says ‘no’ and tries to do everything. I’ve been there and learnt the hard way.


  4. I’ve never heard the term spoons used in this way. As time goes on my ability to juggle spoons is declining. I need to practice juggling since I don’t juggle so well these days.

    Tossing It Out


  5. “Be content with one thing done well” is sage advice, Roland. If we can do that each day, that’s time well spent.


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