Before I became a mother I had plans of spending my son’s early days getting plenty of writing done. Let me just say it didn’t happen.
I scoured the internet for tips on how to write with a baby in the house but it felt like these people didn’t actually know what it was like to live with a baby.
Write when the baby sleeps! Stay up late! Get up early! Write when you breastfeed (which had been my plan)! Keep a notebook on you and jot down notes throughout the day.
Apparently Nikki Gemmell wrote The Bride Stripped Bare while her young children napped. It is distinctive for its snippet-style chapters. That’s pretty impressive. But not everyone can do that.
The problem was, I was so tired (oh and I had my arms full).
My baby was a catnapper. He slept for 40 mins at a time, after an hour of breastfeeding. He woke at the slightest sounds. He cried for hours on end. I spent my days rocking, patting, walking, feeding, holding him. Turned out he had reflux.
As you can imagine, if he was asleep then so was I. On the rare occasion I found myself with writing time, I spent it staring at a blank page. My brain was empty.
Sleep deprivation is not good for creativity. Neither is depression.
One thing that did help during that time was reading. I was sitting in a chair for an hour at a time, eight times a day. It worked up until he was about six months old, when he was intent on grabbing at my book.
Reading during breastfeeding was so good for me. It allowed my to not feel guilty about not getting any writing done. I was able to read so many books.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
The Ottoman Motel – Christopher Currie
The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
Machine Man – Max Barry
Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks
Eisenhorn – Dan Abnett
Without Warning – John Birmingham
Where Eagles Dare – Alistair MacLean
So my advice is when your baby is little, don’t push yourself to write. Put a dent in your reading list.