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!