A long time ago, in a house not far from where I live now, was a bright-eyed teenager who dreamed of being a writer. I pictured my perfect life often. I would be published by twenty, and have several books under my belt before I got married and had children. In the midst of life, there would be plenty of time and finances to spend my afternoons in coffee shops writing the hours away. And, when my current life got too stale for inspiration, I’d whisk away on airplanes to exotic locales and write stories that took place in each of those destinations.
[insert record scratch here]
Our life never is exactly what we plan, is it? In some ways, it’s more vibrant and colorful and fulfilling than I had ever expected, and then there are areas where I still dream of that exotic lifestyle I dreamed of before. Who wouldn’t want to occasionally take a break from a level-nine-clinger who needs me in her line of sight at.all.times? I would love to spend mornings at the local coffee shop and type away while sipping my favorite drink. I also would love to be able to take a week and fly off to Denver to shadow my sister’s work, which is a key component of my book. I also would love to fly out to Boston and stroll the streets and grab a Mocha Roll from Mike’s Pastries to gain inspiration for my novel, which is placed in a fictional city based off of Boston.
But, I’m a stay-at-home-mom of two who still very much want me around at all times, and I don’t magically have endless funds to travel wherever and whenever. Right now my kids are my life and my work, and I love them more than all of those fantasies. So, I wake up every morning and do life with those two little people.
That doesn’t mean I am giving up on my writing. I did that for ten years, and it is a mistake I regret. But, it also means that writing within the bounds of my life right now requires a lot of determination, creativity and pushing through ruts.
Since I don’t have the ability to run around to coffee shops or travel, I have to work within my home, which brings its challenges. My home has constant reminders of all the chores that need to be done, and no matter how fast you work, there is always more to do. I also have two daughters who want to be around me as much as they can while everyone is awake.
So how do I do it?
I gave birth to both girls naturally, and I always have people ask me how I did it. The answer? Sheer determination. I’m pretty stubborn, especially when I want to prove to people I can do something they don’t think I can. If I wasn’t resolute about giving birth naturally, I would have had that epidural immediately. Birth pain is no joke.
I view writing similarly right now. It’s not easy to work around the schedule of a toddler and a preschooler. And, plan as I might, I can never schedule time during the day when it’s just them and me to write. If I’m lucky, I can swing an hour or two of writing during nap time, but just yesterday I was wedged underneath a toddler who fell asleep on my arm minutes after declaring she wasn’t tired enough to nap. Sometimes, daytime writing just doesn’t happen.
But, even if that does work out, I fight for my writing time when I can.
All of this leads me to evening and weekend writing. I’m beyond grateful for a husband who has more faith in my writing than even I have in it. He has been an amazing support to hang out with the girls or take them to stores or parks on weekends to give me a good solid chunk of hours to write. And, he has also given up time with me in the evenings when I write after the girls go to bed. I have written how much I have because of his support. I wouldn’t be this far without him.
3) Giving up on the Notion of “Inspiration”
I’ve learned one huge lesson in the past three months: inspiration is fickle and flighty. I don’t know how many times I’ve waited for inspiration or chased it directly off a metaphorical cliff. Writing is 90% work, 10% inspiration. I’ve proven much more fruitful plowing through writer’s block in less-than-inspirational locations or life stages than any other. If I relied on the all-elusive inspiration, I would have twenty-percent of what I have written. I don’t rely anymore on inspiration to complete my work, even though I do love it when it happens.
4) Creating a Space at Home
Since I can’t whisk myself away, I’ve put effort into revamping our “office” (it’s our third bedroom). I changed the paint color, added some artwork I love and purchased a chair that’s cute and comfortable to sit in for long stretches of time. It’s a calm and relaxing area that physically turns my back to the chores that a home always requires. I also invested in this space because I wanted to give credence to my writing. By creating a space that is conducive to writing, I allow myself to believe that, even though I’m not making an income off of writing yet, it is still worthy of my time and resources.
And, if you can’t create a space? It’s nice, but not necessary. The bulk of my writing up to now has happened in an armchair or on the floor with a keyboard balanced on my knees.
But, really, for all of this, the main component is determination. If you decide writing is important, you will write. You will find the time to chase this dream, even if you only have ten minutes here or there, even if you’re writing your ideas on napkins with borrowed pens, even if you’re writing on your public transit commute. Writing, compared to most other creative endeavors, is the “easiest” to start up because the only tools you need is yourself and something to write with. The rest is up to you.