Writing Challenges, Old & New

It’s amazing how different life is before and after having a baby. I often think of it as going down the rabbit hole. You enter on one side and emerge on the other in a completely different world; it looks a lot like the one you remember, but everything has changed.

As a writer, there have always been excuses and challenges to finding the time and the focus to write. There have been times when it has been incredibly frustrating, when I’ve gotten down on myself for not committing more time, or for not making progress as quickly as I’d hoped. Even when getting my MFA, it was hard to find the time. Some things have always helped: deadlines; outside pressure; knowing a reader, editor, or writing group was waiting for to read what I was working on.

As with everything, having a baby has changed all that. That I thought I didn’t have time to write before is almost laughable. There’s no room for excuses any more.

  • I am more motivated
    After having my daughter, there was suddenly a real and significant challenge to my ability to accomplish my writing goals. I feel more driven to write, because I need to be; because it would be so much easier to let it go, to let it fall to the wayside, now more than ever. The risk of not writing is higher, and so I must be that much more committed to writing.
  • I am more focused
    There is so much less time in my day. It’s amazing how a baby can completely change your perception of time. You have to take each moment as it comes and know that it will pass quickly. This is both the way things are and the only way to stay sane. A baby will not let you do a lot of things at once for very long. So as with your baby, so with your writing: you cannot get distracted, you cannot ignore what needs to be done.
  • I have less time, but get more from the time I have
    Free moments come so rarely and can be so short. When there is time, it has to be pounced on. I know the value of these free moments, so they are spent doing things I value, like writing.
  • I’ve learned to hold things lightly & take what I can get
    Sometimes the time is there, and then suddenly it isn’t. I set a goal for myself to finish a draft of my novel by the end of 2012. I wrote during my daughter’s first nap nearly every day and managed to write another 20,000 words. I am incredibly proud of myself for accomplishing that. But I didn’t meet my goal. My daughter got sick, then went through a massive growth spurt, and her naps disappeared completely for two weeks, then returned so short they were practically nonexistent. Now I’m trying to finish in time for my next writing group meeting. I don’t know if I’ll make that goal either. But I’ll keep taking the time I can, and know that I will get there eventually.
  • I know I can’t wait for the circumstances to be perfect
    One of my favorite writing quotes is this one by E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” This is a trap I have often fallen into. But now? I barely have time, let a lone the perfect time. If I wait for the conditions to be ideal, I will wait forever and never write.

There will always be excuses not to write, and there will always be other things you need to do. But like a baby will remind you every day, there is only the present moment, and time is moving so so quickly. There’s no time for excuses, only action.