Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Return to Normalcy (Sort of)

Four days shy of my son turning six months old, and I finally feel like life is returning to something resembling what passes for normal in this house.

Of course, this is the new normal, the normal that includes having a baby doing barrel rolls across the living room floor.

I've gotten into a decent routine of picking up as I go along, and taking care of housework in short bursts. Writing comes in short bursts as well, but it's a little more of a stretch for me. I used to simply write for hours, and then go off and do other things. 

Now I might have fifteen minutes there, and ten minutes here. It's harder to keep track of what I was able to write, what the scene was about, and the general thread of the book. Writing's slowed down to a crawl and it feels like this book is Taking Forever to Write. The "this sucks, let's burn it and dance on the ashes" period is lasting longer as a result, and things are generally difficult. 

So, in addition to using nap times, I've decided to out source for help. My mom's going to watch the baby every Monday, and I am going to get some serious writing done. Today was the first day of this schedule, and it was glorious. I wrote for hours, got some plotting done, and had time to spare to make dinner and straighten up. 

You see, it's hard to justify spending money on a babysitter when I am staying home to be with the baby. I feel like it will be easier once I have an agent and a book contract, because I'll be bringing money into the house, but for now it just feels...weird.

It's just me; my husband and family aren't making me feel this way, but it's there just the same. My mom watching the baby seems to be the best solution, since she gets to spend time with her grandson and I get to spend time working on my book. 

This got me thinking about what people do to make their writing feel more legitimate. I think it's really important to not only tell yourself you're a writer, and act like a professional, but practice habits that reinforce that notion. At the moment my desk is in the living space, but when we move into a bigger house, I am going to have a separate room for an office. I've arranged to have the baby looked after so I have time to work. All of these things are scary in a way, but they feel necessary to ensure that I take myself seriously. 

But like anything else, this is a job, and I should act as such. It's easier, working from home, to feel like I am just playing around. There's no clear mark between when I am done working, and at home, so I have to make that mark myself. Part of that is finding a baby sitter, or once I am done with my word count for the day, walking away from the computer. 

Of course, this sense of routine is going to be short lived since we're moving in November. 


But until then!

What do you do to make your writing feel legitimate?


  1. Oh man, when the baby was little I was always working on my dissertation. That didn't feel legitimate either. Eventually, I just outgrew that feeling, but it wasn't easy. And it was REALLY hard to hire a babysitter to watch the kid so I could work in another room.

    I still don't have a feeling of legitimacy for my fiction. I've decided that my writing is a really complex and time consuming hobby. One that I'm obsessive about. That's about the extent of my ability to grant myself legitimacy.

  2. I never had issues with this until the baby came along. Before I was free to spend my time however I wanted and I didn't have to think about whether it was useful or not.

    Now, like you said, I have a hard time with the idea of hiring a babysitter or otherwise spending money, when I quit my job to stay home with him. And to pursue my writing, but that doesn't feel real until I get an agent and/or a book deal.

  3. Good for you for learning this at the beginning of motherhood instead of at the end. Sometimes I think I wasted years of good writing simply because I felt too guilty to do it.

    Now that my youngest is about to start school it's easier for me to take myself seriously. The contract helps ;) But I'm finding that in order for others to take me seriously I have to put my foot down. M, W, F are work days--writing, blogging. T and Th will be days for errands and helping friends if they need me. It's going to be hard to tell some of these dear people, "not today, but I'm free on Thursday" but I have to do it.

    Yep, good for you! It took me 16 years of motherhood to realize I had to carve out my own writing time.

  4. Thanks! People tell me it gets easier once they are in school--and I am sure it will, once he's at school for a few hours--but I don't want to wait years simply to get a book done.

    I take my career seriously, and prioritize it like a job, even though it's harder now with the baby. Lucky for me my mom is awesome and I have a good solution.

    I am so happy you're taking yourself seriously. I know it's still a struggle, but you owe it to yourself.