when can I write...and how? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-22-2006, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been working on the same writing (novel) since my DS was 9mo...he's 2 1/2 now and I just had baby #2 in May, so my writing time has dwindled tremendously...and to tell the truth, when I DO get to write, I can't! My mind just goes 'bla bla bla' and so does my writing. I just can't write anymore! I know where I want my story to go, what I want my characters to do, but trying to describe a wine tasting that the characters bump into eachother at and it is just dull crap flowing out of me...and then boom, baby wakes up, 2 yo needs a snack, and my writing time is over for the week!... so my question is...HOW do you write when you FINALLY get the time and your mind is so mushy from all the day to day of being super mom-wife-woman...? :
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#2 of 10 Old 08-23-2006, 08:49 AM
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I'm desperate to hear what others have to say. I have only one dd, 19 months, and am a musician not a book author, but I'mm having the same trouble.
Before the babe, I could use the entire day to mull over ideas, and at 3am finally spit something reasonable out. Now I have to do that whole process in a 10th of that time? I'm' only just unwound by the time the nap is over. I'm afraid of becoming stagnant and stupid. I need the nourishment that comes along with creativity and have doubts about when I will ever get it again.

Good luck and you're not alone,

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#3 of 10 Old 08-23-2006, 03:57 PM
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I really don't think there is a simple solution for any of us. I think the essence of it is to just find ways to keep practising your skills in smaller chunks. Short stories or minute fiction instead of novels? For musicians, maybe opportunities to collaborate will speed up the creative process?

For me it's a matter of writing about what I'm living - so I write short articles pertaining to parenting. I can spit out a draft in a matter of a few hours if the juices are flowing. I can write at my laptop or in my notebook while I supervise the children at play. Mornings are best for us because the children are easily entertained and they'll eat from a fruit and cracker platter without interrupting me (much ).

So maybe you could shelve your novel for a while and create a series of short stories to a theme (that would also be highly publishable). A lot of novelists start out this way.

I think it's important to savour this time with your babies while they're still so young without being overly pre-occupied with achieving other things. They grow so quickly and the only thing worse than becoming stagnant and stupid is regretting that you never appreciated the moment you were in when you were in it.
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#4 of 10 Old 08-25-2006, 01:04 PM
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i agree with marsupial mama. i write on a lap top with the kids playing aroudn me -- sometimes it works, sometimes they want to play with the computer

i write flash fiction. under 1K, and mostly under 500. when i wrote a 2200 word story i thought WOW this one was LONG

some of my flashes are very very short, or sort of prosepoems.

i find satisfaction in this -- i can write a draft without loosing the track, and then i can edit it slowly, over several days, almost sentence by sentence, at different times of the day, without being burnt out.

now as i have a 4 y o and a 20 m old, i can't belive how much time i wasted when i had only one!

when dh comes home late, i manage (touch wood) to have both asleep by 9PM, and then i can write a bit, if i am not too exhausted by then

when dh is home, he stays up longer with dd, and then i can write a bit too.

i think the worst is when i PLAN on writing, and then something happens and i don't find the time. then i sometimes get impatient and cranky. so i try not to plan on anything
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#5 of 10 Old 08-25-2006, 03:30 PM
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Some very wise ideas, thank you. I will start to force myself to get SOMETHING down every day, if only for the honing of the skill. The thing I find so often frustrating is that I can't play music when dd is napping since we live in a small appartment. So if I want to practice, my window is between when she goes to sleep at night and when I'm too exhausted to think. This is also my only time to regroup with dp.

I'll have to be happy writing down my words in the meantime.

And in response to putting too much emphasis on writing when I should be enjoying mothering, sometimes I think that's half of my problem: I'm so utterly and blissfully(mostly) engaged in dd that I fear I may lose touch with the rest of the world around me. It's also so very important to me that dd sees me actively persuing a passion, that she sees me as a creative person as well as an engaged 'mamina'.

Nicole, musician, mother, lover, baker
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#6 of 10 Old 08-25-2006, 03:32 PM
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#7 of 10 Old 08-27-2006, 01:10 AM
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Yep, in small chunks here, too.

The kid grow, you get your time back. Having a book of prompts helps to get me started. (Write about "red' : for 20 minutes, or about your best day, or worst day, or how it would be to live in a castle.)

Try Writing the Natural Way, by Rico, Writing Down the Bones and my fav, Pen on Fire, which was actually a book for women who were having trouble finding time to write. Get them at your library!

I wrote my (as yet unpublished ) novel in the car and waiting for soccer practice to be over. Honestly, you'll have chunks of time soon and you'll be good at using them!
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#8 of 10 Old 08-29-2006, 11:28 PM
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I'm a newbie and hardly ever make it out here, but I just wanted to say, this very board inspired me to write when I was in a newborn-induced haze. I thought, hey, other moms are out there writing right now!

My other tip is that I wrote something fun and light and didn't put pressure on myself to write every day (at one point, I wrote 2000 words a day, but I wanted to enjoy my baby, sleep, eat, etc., so I gave myself a break). I know you can think you're writing dreck and it actually turns out to be good, but I just wanted writing to be pure pleasure when I started back in on it.

Now DS is 3 months and I'm back to revising a novel and a bit stressed about it. DH is going back to work next week after doing paternity leave, so we'll have to figure out how to make the time. We'll see!

For the musician (Punchy?), could you practice while DD is awake? Then she could see you enjoying yourself and benefit from beautiful music. I might not have understood, but I thought you were saving it for when she was asleep.

Good luck to all of us! Yours in creativity,
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#9 of 10 Old 09-16-2006, 11:44 AM
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I'm afraid that I have the luxury of a one hour train commute each way every day. But when I've had to use this time for other things, I would write in little chunks too. I have found that the most important thing is to write something every day. (I found this to be the case when I used to teach college students as well. I would make them write something as homework for every single class. I would correct it for both style and content. They absolutely hated it, of course (and they didn't know that I was trying to teach them how to write) but in the end all of them improved dramatically by the end of the semester. And I was teaching them history.

When writing small chunks because I don't have much time, I do not try to write little stories, because I find this inhibiting. So much pressure to try to be "creative" in the space of a few stolen minutes. Instead, I focus on little scenes and descriptions. They may or may not be related to something larger. For example, I have a scene from a novel I've been working on where a man meets another man in a coffee house (in Cairo). I have gone over and over this scene many times to see if I have captured it the way that I want to. Are there other small details that will put the reader there? Are there tiny things that I can do to highlight the differences between one character and another? How are they dressed? How do they sit? What's on the table? What's the floor made out of? What's the ceiling made out of? Are there windows? What can be seen through them? What kind of coffee cups are there? Are they chipped? Are they clean?

I'll include these details until the piece is loaded with them. I will try to fit them in as though I am actually going to use them. But then, I will start to chop them back, because I want to imply the whole scene with as few of them as possible, since in fact if you were to go into the coffee shop, you would be focusing on the two characters and would only be taking in the coffee shop in at a glance.

There was a French Writer called Alain Robbe-Grillet whose "style" was to actually make the description of a room one of the characters in a story. He would spend maybe 15 pages describing a room. I remember one scene where he goes on for like 5 pages describing the rings of water left on a table top by a glass. Crazy stuff, which at the time the French cultural avant garde ate up as the "new novel". (Years later, the author admitted that it had been one big joke and that the joke was on them.) But the point is that one can write about details like this for themselves almost endlessly. The trick, in my opinion, is to later sift through all this stuff for the true nuggets of gold.

In Ulysses by James Joyce (a killer of a novel that no one ever really reads but is good to skip around in) the character Bloom owns a hat, which is referred to as his "High Quality Ha". These words are written on the band inside of the hat and the reason that it is a Ha is that the T has been worn off by Bloom's sweat. This tells us that he has had the hat for a while. Since Bloom is reading this, it tells us that he reads the band to remind himself that he wears a High Quality Ha, because he is rather proud of it and also that he is a bit of a neurotic reader. He has a sense of humor too, because he is the one who sees that it is a Ha and he seems to think about it as a Ha. It tells us that he is middle class, because a worker would have a cheaper hat and it would be a different sort. It tells us that he likes quality stuff but that he doesn't toss stuff as soon as it gets worn. It tells us that he has a touch of vanity. And it even paints a picture of the hat as worn. All of this from a one sentence description. It could be that Joyce just sat down and wrote this, but it could also be that he pumped out a large pile of descriptive stuff and this is the sole survivor, kept because it tells us so much.
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#10 of 10 Old 11-16-2006, 02:04 PM
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When my kids were small and underfoot, I wrote when they were napping or after they went to bed. Now that they're all in school, I try to limit my writing to when they're away from home so that I'm interacting with them once they're home.
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