I’ve heard more than one person say, “I used to write, but then I had kids.”
When I got pregnant in the fall of 2012 I was a serious writer, meaning that I wrote consistently every day. I was working on a novel, and I naively thought I could finish it before my baby came along the following summer.
Then the morning sickness began, and by “morning” I mean “twenty-four-seven.” And the worst part was, it was akin to motion sickness in that when it came time to read or write, I might as well have been on a storm-tossed boat. Or a car on a winding road. Or a Tilt-A-Whirl.
So despite my good intentions, I wrote not a word for two full months. The sickness eventually went away, but then other complications took its place. We moved. I started work. We had to acquire those countless new-baby things, some of which weren’t that obvious. (“Wait, I need a lunch tote to store the milk I pump at work? I shouldn’t let bottles of breast milk float around the communal fridge? Oh, I suppose not.”) But although I was nowhere close to finishing my book before Day Zero, I was creeping forward ever so slowly.
Then Day Zero came – a relatively complication-free delivery, followed by a perfect little guy. Yea! Then no sleep. No sleep. You mothers know what I’m talking about – the kind of no sleep that you thought would be a mild inconvenience because hey, you’ve operated on no sleep before, and that ends up turning your brain to absolute sludge. I was just such a deluded fool.
Mired in this fog of No Sleep, you lose the ability to remember the simplest things. One day I arrived at the pediatrician’s office for my son’s checkup and handed the receptionist my insurance card.
RECEPTIONIST: Your son has a different medical record number. Didn’t you receive his card in the mail?
ME: Uh…I don’t know. Possibly.
(Turns out I had – it was buried in a pile of junk I hadn’t had the energy to go through yet. But at the time I just stood there, trying to wade through the fog and recall any smidge of detail about opening an envelope and pulling out the card that would provide my baby with medical care. Nope, nothing.)
So anyway (there is a point to all of this, I swear!) having a new baby is all-consuming at first. But after that initial tidal wave, and after your cuddly little bundle of poop and drool starts sleeping through the night, things begin to revert, at least to an extent, back to normal.
And that’s when you remember that you were once a writer.
The most important thing now is flexibility. Maybe you used to write late into the night, but now you’re too tired after dinner to do so. Maybe you used to be an early bird, but now you’re greeted with a little gummy smile at five a.m. and know you won’t have a minute to spare before eleven o’clock. Maybe you don’t have the foggiest idea what your day looks like, because your baby is about as predictable as the San Andreas fault.
You just have to roll with it and make time. Will it be convenient? Almost never. Will it flat out suck? Frequently. But you just have to do it, because that book/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. I used to get off work around 4:30 in the afternoon, come home, and write nonstop before eating a late dinner. Now the only free time I have is before dawn, so I’m up at five a.m., pounding at the keyboard until 6:45, or 7:10, or 7:30, or 8:05… things still aren’t wholly predictable around here. But the important thing is to keep focused. Stay tough. And keep writing.
You could very well find that writing at a new time of day actually suits you. Writing before my son wakes up forces me to put my head down and concentrate, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to haul my butt out of bed at five o’clock just to goof off on the internet. That’s perfectly good sleep time I’m losing, and if I’m going to lose it, I’m going to get something for it.
So don’t be averse to trying something different. You might find it’s the best thing you’ve ever done – for your post-baby writing career, anyway.Find us here: