One of the greatest challenges I seem to face as a writer is managing transitions. As I work and have a toddler, my ‘spare’ time is intensely, painfully precious, and the pressure to use it fruitfully is keen. However, my frustration is that my creativity doesn’t seem to want to work like that. It is a lazy beast, and doesn’t respond well to whipping. In fact, it flips its top lip and sneers at the concept. It needs time to lumber thoughtfully into it’s stride, and I just don’t have that luxury. We need to go from 0 to 60 in under an hour.
I feel like when those opportunities to write do come along, I should be sitting down and pounding out as many hundred words as I can, but somehow mundane things keep getting in the way.
Following a terrific suggestion from readers of this blog, I carry a little notebook with me at all times, and that has been wonderful for poetry and jotting down ideas as they occur. That little notebook is like the slice of ‘me’ that remains just ‘me’, without any other hats heavy with responsibility. However, ideas are building up in there without the time to bring them to their full dreadful glory.
Any other suggestions as to how to manage these transitions better? To go from ‘worker’ to ‘Mum’ to ‘Writer’ in the blink of en eye?
Some possibly useful links I’ve found:
You may not be able to force creativity, but you can certainly invite it.
You cannot force creativity. You must force creativity.
Have you started a ritual to help you transition? Like lighting a candle every time you sit down to write so soon your brain associates that particular lit candle with writing. I always liked Jo’s writing hat in “Little Women” myself. 😉
Good thought. At the moment, if I’m at home, my ritual is checking Facebook, which is REALLY not conducive to good work, or good time management. But I will give it a try. Thanks!
Heh yeah that’s been my ritual too. Trying to break it… My new beautiful Poe Raven writing gloves might become part of my new writing ritual;
This is such a common problem for writers who are also parents! Sarah and I are going to be launching a vlog in the next few weeks that address this very issue. One thing we had to do was to rethink the way we thought about writing time, and then we had to claim it forcefully. One thing we do is leave the house for a couple of hours once a week and meet at a sandwich shop and work while our husbands manage the kids without us. Another thing is that we do a lot of our mental prep work before we have writing time so that time can be more productive.
That all sounds very organised, and very sensible! I think the issue for me is not knowing what I want to write, or even being able to grab little bits of time, but getting my head in the right space.
Oh, I feel your pain! I wish we were organized and sensible, but we are, after all, creative writers. 😉 Kidding aside, it has taken us a very long time — our kids are 7, 9, and 10 years old — to find routines that worked, and they’re not fail-safe, but they’re very good. May I post the link to the vlog here once it’s ready?
Absolutely! Please do! Would love to hear what you’ve come up with.
Thanks! I’ll let you know when it’s up. Very nervous about posting video, though, especially considering the in-your-face anti-woman climate of the US these days.
That’s bad. Why is that happening? There seem to be rather a lot of pro-feminist articles in our city’s paper (The Age) lately.
There’s a huge backlash here, too. I think it’s not that it’s just now happening, I think it’s that people are finally saying it sucks and should stop. The most recent brouhaha this week is over dozens of female celebrities’ cloud accounts being hacked and their private nude photos stolen and publicized. Most people with common sense and human decency are saying this is a type of sex crime as a violation of these women’s bodies, though moronic galoots in our media and all over the net have been calling it a scandal and blaming the victims for taking photos of themselves in the first place. It all makes me so angry I can hardly stand it. Rape culture is a very real and repugnant part of our culture and many societies around the world, and finally the people trying to stop it are getting some attention. If you read Chuck Wendig’s blog TerribleMinds — which is excellent, by the way — you might have seen his response that people who blame the victims should essentially be tasered and thrown out of the airlock.
One thing that helps me is to have a set aside time for writing. I declared that I would get up before everyone else in my household and write. I did half an hour to an hour every morning 2-3 days a week and then worked it to 7 days a week. That lasted a year, and schedules changes as they do. I know write on the metro to work. Its about 20 minutes but I do it, every day. I do advance fast, but every day I advance. I learned this at a course in grad school. The muse can be trained. Regularity (and it does not have to be daily and it does not have to be long, but the schedule must consistent) creates the space and over time you habituate your creativity to it. Again, the key to success is to not be overly ambitious at first in terms of time, but to find 15-30 minutes, whatever you can pull off, and 3 time periods, and stick to it.
Thanks Sabrina. I am trying to write on the train on the way to work. I’m very interested in this idea of training the muse. That early morning time is usually quite good for me, as my brain hasn’t cluttered up too much at that stage, but later on? It’s like trying to find something in a pile of spaghetti.
I wish I had answers! I carry a notebook everywhere and even though I’m not writing or blogging much, I do scribble notes into my book. One out of three will have to do 🙂
Good luck finding the right balance 🙂
Thanks Pete! Scribble away – I rather like the fact that despite the electronic age, we’re still putting our real thoughts in little scribbles. 🙂
Actual book journals are glorious. 🙂