I’m a novelist, but my real job is being a stay-at-home mother to my now-eight-month-old daughter. It’s not easy taking care of a baby while trying to revise the umpteenth draft of a novel, juggling nursing sessions and diaper changes with writing a hundred words here, a hundred more there. Add freelance editing to the mix, and I’m a busy girl from the time I get out of bed in the morning to the time my husband gets home from work.
Every day is unknown. Maybe I’ll get to write. Maybe I’ll get to work on that revision outline. Maybe I’ll get to edit for a client. Maybe. The only surety is that I’ll be looking after my daughter—changing her diapers, feeding her every three or so hours, rocking her to sleep in the hopes that she’ll nap for more than thirty minutes for once, and entertaining her with toys, jumpers, play seats, mobiles, swings, and mirrors, whatever she’ll play with and enjoy for fifteen minutes here or there.
Before I got pregnant and had a baby, I maybe spent four to six hours writing or revising every day, Monday through Friday. I almost consistently wrote 2000+ words per day while drafting. I could revise an entire novel in a month. Now… I’m lucky to get two hours to write per day. Maybe. Realistically, I might get one good hour of writing time. I might draft 500 words a day. I might be able to revise a chapter or two. There’s no guarantee. Even since sitting down to write this blog post, I’ve had to stop three times to deal with the baby.
For someone who was used to four or more hours of uninterrupted writing pre-baby, it’s a very different work style. There’s no time for me to sit down and ponder or warm up for thirty minutes to an hour before I really get going. There’s no time for me to find my writing groove anymore. I have to sit down and churn out as much as I can in as little time as possible. And it’s hard. I’m one of those people who likes to immerse themselves in their work, whether it’s writing or editing or whatever. When I can really get into the characters’ heads, become a part of the world, see and feel everything as the characters do… that’s when I do my best writing. But unfortunately, I can’t write like that anymore, and every day, I worry that my writing suffers, that my stories are suffering, because I just can’t write like I used to.
I’m having to learn to write in a completely new way. But I’m doing it. I’m learning. And yes, maybe my stories are suffering for now, maybe I’ll have to spend that much more time revising my books to get them right, to really bring out the world and characters in the way that I used to be able to do in the first draft, but I’m determined to do what I have to in order to make a career out of this.
It’s a juggling act, being a full-time writer and mother. Priority Number One is always going to be my daughter, but I’m fighting to make writing a close second. Every moment I can spare, I’m writing, revising, brainstorming, outlining… whatever it takes to be a little bit closer to completion than I was the day before. And eventually, I’ll finish drafting, finish editing and proofing and formatting, and all the other fun stuff that comes with being a writer/publisher. It just takes a bit more time now.