my fiction, writing

Parenthood and writing

@katyha (also to be found at Fausterella) linked to this post about managing parenthood and writing, which left me considering my own experiences. Two months into parenthood, I confess that I’m finding it challenging.

In theory, Leon takes regular naps and I could write a little then. In practice, currently he’s napping in 45 min stretches, which gives me about 5 windows in the day, two of which are used for dog walks & one for lunch. That remaining hour and a half would be of more use if I were more disciplined, for sure, but after 90 min of feeding / nappy change / entertain / feed, my inclination is to take a deep breath, make a cup of tea, maybe check my email and Twitter… and then the baby is awake again. Damn.

I have managed to do a little writing on my phone while feeding (the first draft of this was written on my phone), but thumb typing gets old fast. I can get a first draft of a short blog post done. But if writing fiction, I can only manage either some notes (feeding is quite good for thinking about things), or a couple of full sentences, before the mismatch between speed of thinking and speed of writing becomes too irritating. Not to mention the fact that if I write while I’m feeding, how will I ever get through the rest of the Game of Thrones series? (All hail the Kindle, my one-handed-reading saviour.)

Editing fiction while feeding is definitely a non-starter. For that, and to be honest for much of the rest of my fiction writing, I have to use the time when Leon’s dad is on duty. That too comes in 45-60min bursts. Editing blogs I can do while Leon sleeps (this post was finished on the iPad with Leon sleeping in the sling on my chest). I’ve made myself curious now about the difference in my brain between blog writing and fiction writing, and may contemplate this further in the future.

Having said all of that, since Leon was born 10.5 weeks ago I have managed to pitch and write a story for the anthology ‘Faction Paradox: Burning With Optimism’s Flames’ (out later this year), so obviously something is happening. I’ve also kept up, for the last week, a a one sentence daily goal inspired by this post from Léan on something else I’m working on. In fact it’s almost always more than a single sentence; but I think the main advantage is that it keeps the project stewing in my back-brain.

I’m told it gets worse when you have a toddler; although if Leon ha a phase where he has a nap on his own rather than in a sling, it may get a bit easier first (can but hope!). Hopefully by then I’ll have developed the increased discipline the writers at that first link talk about. If anyone reading has suggestions on how one can make the most of shortish slots of time when knackered and desperate for a break, do please share.

3 thoughts on “Parenthood and writing”

  1. I think to a certain extent, if you want to do something badly enough, you find a way, even with a baby. But it’s also important to remember that these early days really aren’t that long in the grand scheme of things and it’s worth enjoying them as much as you can.

    The main changes that happen are that sleep patterns gradually alter (daytime sleep decreases but consolidates into one long after-lunch nap, and you get an earlier bedtime so once you are getting more sleep yourself, you have evenings). However, of course once they become mobile, you pretty much have to keep an eye on them the whole time they are awake, unless you babyproof extremely well, and even then, they will still want your attention too regularly for you to focus on anything as well as constantly wanting to be outdoors. Plus, weaning means that you have to prepare and clean up after meals, although it’s obviously up to you how much time you spend on that. The other factor I found is that returning to work obliterates the time you had during naps, even when working feels like a rest in comparison!

  2. Yeah, I am allowing myself a certain amount of “cuddling with sleeping baby and book” time, too 🙂 But there is a limit to how long I can do that for before I start getting antsy; similarly if he’s feeding loads, while it is sometimes nice to just cuddle up and look at him, sometimes I do really feel the need to do SOMETHING ELSE at the same time.

    (And then I feel guilty for not being content just to stare at my lovely baby etc etc, but that way lies madness, and also it’s all about the socially-mandated truth that it is impossible as a mother to do the Right Thing because *all* the things are Wrong in some way depending on who you ask. But anyway, a side rant there.)

    I don’t really do anything else while he’s awake and not feeding already, so at least mobility won’t make a big change there! Weaning of course more so… Longer naps will be nice, though, when that happens.

    I am not sure how returning to work will feel for me, given that I’ll be working from home still; d will be in charge on those days, but as I still intend to be feeding, I’ll either be doing that or pumping and tbh pumping sounds like a lot more faff than just feeding him. But we’ll see. At least I avoid a commute!

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