Friday, March 8, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday--Being A Writer

 Strolling in the deep  

I am part of a small community of writers who are also parents, and our topic of discussion has been, and probably always will be, how to be successful at getting anything done. So for me, the question of being a writer comes down to, "Am I writing?" If I am, then I feel at peace with myself, regardless of any outcome (like notoriety or monetary return. At least for now). If I am not, am I being a writer? Would I feel embarrassed to answer a question of, "what are you writing right now?" for utter lack of work to even hint upon? I decided that for me, if I am not actively, regularly writing, I am not a writer. Maybe I will feel differently one day, with volumes of my own published works on my shelves, but for now, this rings true.

Concurrently, I have the great joy and responsibility of molding the tiny minds (okay, giant minds, really) of my children. I have the opportunity to stand by them as their triumphs and successes, as well as bruises and mistakes, shape the way they see themselves and the world around them. The things they experience, and what they perceive my place in their life, helping them through each challenge for these formative years, will literally direct the wiring of their brain's structure of thought, all the way into adulthood. I must, I simply must be present for these moments. I must somehow be able to give my full being to my children, and to my craft. My children, who one day will be adults, and communicators, and may in some way be writers themselves (and good lord, if I am not careful to give them my best, what defense will I have to offer them, to my own fragile heart, when I find what might they write about me?!).  

Lots and lots of links and ideas for time management have been made available, with many great tips and tricks for attempting to find your own personal groove for doing this well; feel free to inquire in the comments, or google as you like, and try and try and try until you find the magical balance that lasts forever and then do call me, because what you've found is more valuable than the tears of a thousand unicorns. For now, are some of my thoughts on the matter:

1. Be your own advocate. When people hear you speaking passionately about why you must do this (parent, write, create, all of it), suddenly they will be on board as well. Sometimes they will even join the team and help in practical ways (childcare, accountability, etc.). It really can happen. 

2. Carefully guard against and assassinate all guilt. It is your enemy to productivity in your work and in your relationships with your children/spouse. It does not grow anything. It only debilitates. 

3. Know this to be true: when you are a writer and a parent, both are necessary. Your kids need you, not an unfulfilled, cranky you that can't be creative and productive and feels sucked dry by the ins and outs of daily child care and nurturing. Likewise, your writing needs your life experience as a parent to flesh out some things that otherwise would come across as hollow. Show up for both, as best as you can, every day. 

4. And yes, of course, write regularly. Do not let go of the momentum. Do whatever it takes. Carry a conversation (that simply must go into your book) burning in your head for 12 hours until you have a moment to steal away and jot it down. Take notes in your smart phone (I do. Copiously.) or on your hand or on coffee shop napkins or the backs of bills if they still come to you that way. Make a play and force your children to act it out for you, locking the sequence of events in your memory in a visual way. (I have done this. It works wonders. My children will correct me, because they remember my scene, that I gave them, better than I do.) Just do what you can to keep rolling! Losing something from your thoughts forever is painful.

5. Practically speaking, when you take a shower, plan for five minutes afterward of quickly typing up the stuff you thought of in there. Same for driving in the car. Just start planning that every time you do something somewhat autonomously (showering and driving are mine), the parts of your brain that usually need to focus are quiet, and imagination springs to life. Capture some of the magic from those moments, because it works the muscle and because you never know where you might find it works perfectly in something you need to write tomorrow.

And now I have to take the kiddo back to bed... again, squeeze in a shower, take notes (see? I follow my own advice), and finish the last of the dinner dishes. C'est la vie.


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "What'll you have?" 


  1. I finally had a few minutes to sit down and read. My mom was here all day and when she is, it's all work and no play for me (I'm a horrible housekeeper and she likes it spic and span, so sometimes she comes over to kick my butt in gear and get things done around here).
    I really like it!
    I've also found my dreams to be awesome wells of inspiration, which is why I now have a notebook and pen (presents from my best friend and muse for a long time) on my nightstand. I remember how I once woke up with the absolutely ideal dialogue and scene description just burning on my mind. I grabbed a photo album that just happened to be close by and pulled a Kleenex out of the box, started scribbling on it, then took another one and filled that too. I ended up having to number them in order to keep from mixing the stuff up. That's why my friend sent me a notebook. It beats Kleenex hands down as writing support.

    1. I have the notebook by the bed too. I've been incredibly grateful for it many times, but then others, it seems, have not worked out so well. :)