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Your Writing Life Needs Some Hurkle Durkle!

Morris Kantor, Woman Reading In Bed, 1930, Smithsonian American Art Museum

I first heard the two-hundred-year-old Scottish phrase, hurkle-durkle, when I visited Scotland for the first time in my 20s. The lovely little B and B my friends and I stayed at, Mrs. Henderson’s Bed and Breakfast, was a welcome relief from the pouring rain we’d traveled in for days. My tiny room was beautifully decorated and possessed the smallest tea kettle and pot I’d ever seen. Right beside the bed, a selection of hot chocolates and a jar of homemade cookies waited. Heaven! When I thanked Mrs. Henderson for the treats, she said in her gorgeous Scottish brogue, “I know you’ll want to hurkle-durkle in the morning, however, breakfast is served between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. So, don’t be late!” Hurkle-durkle immediately became one of my favorite phrases! And I guarantee your writing life needs some hurkle-durkle, too.

Hurkle-durkle: To lie in bed or lounge about when one should be up and about

v. n. Scots

I wasn’t allowed to sleep in too late on the weekends when I was a kid. Saturday morning, my mom worked at a bank and my dad was out at our farm. We lived in a little peapod village on the Canadian prairies. Our mother would call the house by 8:00 a.m. and say, “Time to get up, Cinderellies! The list is on the table and I expect it to be done before I’m home for lunch.”

She wasn’t kidding.

There was a list on the table:


  1. Bake brownies
  2. Vacuum
  3. Dust
  4. Clean bathrooms
  5. Laundry
  6. No fighting!

Love, Mom

My sister and I had a few hours to complete the chores before our parents came home for lunch (which we’d made, of course!).

Needless to say, there was no hurkle-durkling. And there was a lot of fighting over who did what!

Hurkle-durkle revealed its lazy wonderous self when I graduated from college and started my first job in media.

Gone were the days when every waking moment was devoted to homework and studying. I remember the first weekend after graduating. I woke up with a strange feeling of guilt I couldn’t quite figure out. And as I made myself a tea in my little apartment – it hit me.

I don’t have to study.

I don’t have to go to work.

I have the day all to myself!

Saturdays were normally the day I cleaned my little apartment. I was raised by my hard-working mother, after all. But I told myself, “The damn cleaning can wait!”

And I grabbed a book beside my bed that I’d saved for such a moment. (I wish I could remember the book!) It was a rainy day, a perfect day for hurkle-durkling. Perfect book? Check! Cozy flannel sheets? Check! Massive cup of tea? Check! Snacks? Check! I snuggled under the covers and I hurkle-durkled the day away. I only came up for air for bathroom breaks, more tea, a sandwich, and some apples, and then back into bed, I went.

It was indulgent. It cost me nothing. It was self-care years before the phrase was invented.

I was 22-years-old, and a book nerd who needed a major hurkle-durkle to fill my soul. It’s one of my first memories as a young adult when I did something just for me and I didn’t have to answer to anyone.

Now, many years later, I’m still a hurkle-durkler. I’ve made it part of my day. I wake up an hour earlier so I can grab a coffee and read or write in bed. Some people jog in the early morning or meditate. Some do yoga or walk their dog in the wee morning hours. Most people dive immediately into the mad rush of the day. I’m lucky. I can hurkle-durkle. I work from home so I’m privileged and thankfully, only have to walk down the hallway to my office.

Thank you, Mrs. Henderson, for sharing the phrase hurkle-durkle which perfectly captured the essence of my favorite way to start the day.

Now It’s Your Turn!

I dare you to plan a hurkle-durkle morning. Give it a try.

Make time for you, a book, and a cup of coffee or tea. It’s a perfect time to do some writing in your Scribbly, too! (But please don’t hurkle-durkle with your phone. It would defeat the purpose of the hurkle-durkle experience entirely.)

There are hurkle-durkle rules after all!

*Did you love this? Then check out Scribbly – my quirky and gentle writing program that we snail-mail right to your home. Each issue has a theme, so all you have to do is follow the path! We make writing easy and fun for you. We’re nice like that.

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