Making the time to write can be difficult when you become a parent. I clearly remember having visions of being able to type while my baby slept and scribble in my notebook with one hand whilst breastfeeding with the other. Oh the ignorance of pregnancy.
In reality, I had a baby that didn’t sleep more than 20 minutes at a time during the day and I was so exhausted that I slept (or attempted to) at any chance I could get.
I did pick up a good tip from a fellow writer – to read while breastfeeding. Now writing and feeding is almost impossible. But it is possible to hold a novel. Our long feeds (often an hour at a time) turned into my chance to read all those books on my list. Up until about six months old I read for close to seven hours a day. Once he got a bit wriggly it was just too hard to hold him and read.
Unfortunately writing was put on a hold for a while. I attempted a short online writing course but to be honest, my creativity was just not happening. Sleep deprivation (and PND) will do that to you.
At around 9-10 months it all fell into place. I secured an afternoon to myself to concentrate on writing. Having that afternoon set aside every week was motivating. I had a short period of time that I had to funnel all my energy into, so I spent the week preparing for it. I kept my pocket-sized notebook nearby and wrote down all those little thoughts that came into my head. I drafted sentences and paragraphs in my head while I was walking with the pram or hanging out the nappies. I found a journal to submit a short story to, and told my friends the deadline.
By the time I was ready to go back to work I was serious about my writing (possibly for the first time in my life). We decided that in addition to my two days in the office, I would take an extra day during the week and dedicate it to writing. I hadn’t decided what I would do with my writing yet but I knew that if I took myself seriously, I could make it work.
So here I am with a 17-month-old, working two days a week in a ‘proper’ job and spending one day writing magazine articles. But you know what? I still struggle with finding time to write.
I often get about an hour at night to myself which I divide up between writing, reading and relaxing with my husband. On the days I’m at home with my son I have 1-2 hours per day during his naps during which to write. And I use my work commute to write as well.
That’s a lot of writing time, but I feel that I have a lot of writing to do. Writing requires reading and research. Brainstorming and planning. Contacting people and pitching (and of course interviewing). And I have discovered exercises and freewriting are great ways to balance the creative with the large amount of non-fiction writing I do.
I do still struggle with motivation. There are nights when I’m tired and all I want to do is watch some TV and catch up on the day with my husband. Or when my son is napping to have a cup of tea and read some writing blogs.
Sometimes I have writing sessions where I am utterly disgusted with the product.
I have to keep reminding myself, writers don’t watch TV; writers don’t read; writers don’t nap. Writers write.