I’ve struggled for the past year to get onto a regular writing schedule. No sooner would I have one than my daughter’s schedule would change and I’d be scrambling again. First I got up early to write, then my daughter started waking up earlier. When I started writing during her morning naptime, she dropped her morning naps. I sometimes continue to work on my novel during her afternoon nap, but now that it is my only time to myself other activities tend to win out. I know from experience that I do best when I write first thing in the morning. But mornings are usually taken up with breakfast, diapering and other aspects of a toddler’s early morning routine. I have the ideas swirling around in my head and even the motivation to write them down. But what I lack is energy. By the time my daughter is in bed for the night I don’t have much left. I always felt like lack of time was my problem. I had too many loads of laundry, too many meals to prepare and too much part-time paid work to do. But I’m quickly realizing that I can make time to do most of the things that really matter to me. But I can’t seem to manufacture the energy. I admire creative people who get up in the middle of the night or the crack of dawn, or stay up until the wee hours to hone their craft. I want to be a good wife and a good mother but I often wonder if that precludes being a good writer as well.
As I read Stephen King’s On Writing I find myself both inspired and discouraged. He recommends 1,000 words a day and a quiet place to write where you can lock the world away. I doubt my laptop on a coffee table surrounded by piles of toddler toys qualifies. I’m lucky if I write a couple hundred words a day, let alone 1,000. I try to remind myself that he wrote his early works in attics and garages with a typewriter balanced on his knees. He had young children too and he worked a crappy, physically demanding job. (Though he also had a devoted and wonderful wife who cared for said children and worked a second shift job of her own to help make ends meet, while also trying to write herself). I find myself wondering, if he could do it, why can’t I? Maybe I just don’t want it enough. Maybe I have too many other things that matter to me. So to all you writers out there, especially those who are also parents; how do you make it work? I’d love to know what tips you’ve discovered.