I used to get up in the morning, make my coffee, and sit down at the computer to write.
Then I had a baby.
Suddenly all illusions of a writing routine (or any routine for that matter) went out the window. He’s two months old now, and even though I’m still in a bit of a sleep-deprived haze, I’m finally feeling the itch to get back to writing.
So now I’m trying to find a loose sense of routine in the chaos. Whether you’ve had a baby or not, there are a lot of things that can stir up your schedule. Here are some of the things that have worked for me.
When I make plans and set goals, I often imagine myself to be Superwoman.
“I can do it all!” I tell myself as I make my to-do list for the next day. The next day comes and goes, and there are still a lot of unchecked boxes on my list.
I still sit down each night to make my to-do list for the next day, but I’ve significantly lowered my expectations. I eased back into writing by adding things to the list like, “Look at your book.” Just look at it. I didn’t have to write, edit, or read it. I just had to open the file and look at it.
Of course, I’d usually get sucked into writing a few words or editing a small section, but even if I didn’t, if I opened the file on my computer, I could check it off my list.
I have learned to do lots of things one-handed while I hold my son with the other.
Because of this, my phone gets a lot more use than my computer lately. I wrote a personal essay using voice to text on Google docs. Then I typed out part of a scene using my thumb to swipe text.
I still love to sit down at the computer but more and more I’m using other ways to get words on the page.
Find an Anchor
Days sometimes slide by in a blur. Is it Thursday? Sunday? Should I be writing? Sleeping? Figuring out how to get baby spit-up off every shirt I own? Did I write today or was that eight days ago?
It helps to have something on the schedule to anchor the week.
For me, my anchor is my weekly writing group. We meet for 90 minutes every Monday. That meeting motivates me to have something semi-completed so I can share, and I find hearing other people’s stories inspiring.
Let the Mind Wander
My baby drinks ten thousand bottles a day and each bottle has sixty-three pieces to wash. Or at least that’s what it feels like. When I’m washing those 630,000 bottle parts, I try to think about the stories I can write or ways to get my characters into or out of sticky situations.
I’ve also found that inventing random stories to tell my baby can get the creative juices flowing. The stories get stranger the more sleep-deprived I am. My favorite so far was the Adventures of Flakey the Snow Fairy.
Someday I expect we’ll get into a flexible routine, and I’ll be able to schedule my writing time again. Until then, I’ll squeeze in some words when I can and enjoy the easy smiles and cheerful baby chatter that fill my days.