New parent, must write: Author toolbox post

This parenting thing is relentless and I am only 20 weeks in. Duh, right? Well, somehow I am finding time to write. It’s different now. My resolve is bound to the conviction that if I quit doing something I love I will disappoint my son. He will see the sorrow in the newly formed lines around my tired eyes. Even at 20 weeks he will sense the emptiness I would feel if I didn’t make time to write (instead of do the dishes or another load of laundry). He would know because the joy I get from his smiles would still be there, but I would feel the lack of sleep more acutely and point it out to my husband more sharply.

The most important thing for me, aside from my family, is writing. I have to prioritize it or it won’t happen (in case you are wondering, I try to write 2-3 days a week or more if I can). If you are struggling as a new parent I guarantee that a little time spent on the things you love to do, yes, a little self-care, will do wonders to keep you happy and healthy for your family and friends. I recently read an article on the Writer’s Digest website that inspired this post for #authortoolbox.

A few tips, if you are interested (no particular order):

1. Think. There are ways in which we write without actually physically writing/typing, call it passive creating. Thinking about a project or reflecting on what we can do to improve it, or simply trying to figure out why a certain scene feels off without writing is valuable writing time. Best thing about this? It can be done any time of day. It often helps do the heavy lifting of creating the story or scene for you and once you do get a short burst of time to write… it flies out of you! Not always, but sometimes it does.

2. Write. After one of these passive creative phases I wrote a 2,000 word short story when my son was a month old and it felt fantastic to get it out there. Was it good? No, but it worked all the right muscles and gave me such a writer’s high. It reminded me to continue writing. So, continue writing. Anything, even a short blog post!

3. Time. Getting the time to write with a newborn or infant is challenging. However, it is the only way to actually get something down. Ask a friend, ask your partner, hire a nanny a couple times a week if you can. Getting out of the house to write is the most luxurious and helpful way to write, but . . . if no one else can help, put your baby in a safe play space and take the 5, 10, 20 minutes of quiet they give you to write down a sentence, idea, or paragraph. I started using the notes function in my phone for this purpose. Eventually, your baby will nap or play quietly for more than 5 minutes and you will get more down. I started writing this way once the baby was home and it helped keep me in the writing mindset. Since having my baby I have written a bad short story, a flash fiction piece that I like, and I am currently revising the latter half of my novel (finding that I need to cut and rewrite a lot!).

Not all of these will work for everyone. Do what feels right for you and if you need a break from writing, take it. Make sure to circle a date on your calendar that you check back in with yourself, though. Are you ready to get back to writing? Do yourself a favor and just try. You may find you’ve had something stored up for a while. Will it be a masterpiece? Maybe!

I wrote this post on my phone while hanging out with my 20 week old!

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11 thoughts on “New parent, must write: Author toolbox post

  1. Those early days–live and sweat. I don’t know how you find any time to write! I waited until my kids were out of college (yeah, they were still needy) to write. Now, I can’t stop!

  2. This mirrors a lot of the learning curve I fell down, for sure! Good luck, mama 🙂 You’re already doing great if you can come up with solutions like writing blog posts on your phone, haha.

  3. I’ve been there and now have come full circle. I watch my granddaughter full time. She’s almost two now, so I don’t get those multiple naps when I can write. Still, she goes home at 4 so I have the evening to write, unlike you. They grow up so quick, so enjoy the time but don’t forget yourself.

    Susan Says

  4. Congratulations on the new baby! I love getting to hear the perspective writers navigating parenthood. I’m not in this boat just yet which is why I am drinking in all the tips and tricks from people like you before that times comes! Thanks in advance for the encouragement to future me. 🙂

  5. Hi Christi, congratulations on your little one. I’m in a similar boat, my little boy will be one in April and I’ve tried so hard to keep the writing up but I find it’s the thing that slips the most when I’m too busy or tired. I’ve started carrying a notebook everywhere I go so I can scribble a few ideas or thoughts down whenever I get a minute to myself, I find it difficult to get into the right mindset to carry on with my WIP when I only have half an hour while he naps, but I can jot down some thoughts on a particular scene or character. You’re so right about the self-care and asking for help, I work part time and had thought I could do my days working from home with him there, and in the end I had to find a childminder, but he absolutely loves his time there and I get a few hours to do my job properly without distraction. It’s what works for us 🙂

    • Congrats to you as well! Carrying a notebook is always a great idea. It is difficult to get into the right mindset when you have a finite amount of time or if you are super tired! Daycare is in our future so it’s nice to hear that it worked well for you. Keep writing and it sounds like as our little ones get older things will shift and can make writing time a little more solid. Being a mom is so rewarding and challenging at the same time!

  6. I am a big believer in background/mental writing. I often try to spend a little time engaging a particularly rigorous writing project, usually whatever work of fiction I’m currently working on, as the last part of my writing efforts on the day before I intend to really focus on it.
    Similarly, I try to keep a few pages on my diverse projects with me, so that I can read over and think about something writing related during breaks or lulls.
    I feel like there’s something to be said for activities like walking, driving, and other times where you’re “busy”, but there are not a lot of decisions or mental energies being used. I “forget” about the writing, but my mind keeps at it. Often those are the times where I have those really nice breakthroughs.
    The key, in my opinion, is making sure that the current writing project(s) stay somewhat active in my mind, and that each one is thought about at least once or twice a week, even if no progress is made.
    Thanks for sharing, and I hope your writing time is going well.

  7. My children are teens now, but I still have foggy memories of those days (sleep? What is sleep?)

    It’s hard, but you’re showing you can write with a newborn. I read the bio of one published author who said she write her entire first draft one or two sentences at a time in those seconds and minutes between being a full-time mom. It’s tiring, and inspiring. Keep it up!

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