How to write when you have a baby
Having a baby is hard work, and by far the most all-consuming thing I've ever experienced. Just yesterday my baby rolled off the bed after looking away for a second (yep, that happened - the baby was fine, my heart not so much). If I haven't made it clear already: BABIES TAKE UP ALL YOUR TIME. It's only been three months for me, so I'm aware a lot will change, but I'm certain he'll still need me as much as he does now. I can't imagine how scary it's going to be when he starts to crawl.
During these three months I've had to let go of a lot of control, and I've had to figure out what's important in my life, and what I can simply let go. If I only get two hours in the day, what am I going to do with that time? For me, it was simple. I wanted to write. This is how I knew I had chosen the right career path. Even in the midst of my exhaustion, finding time to write was of the utmost importance to me (other than showering and eating, of course). I love love love love my little boy, but I NEED to do something else with my day, even if that only means getting one paragraph written.
Are you a writer, and do you have / or are you about to have a baby? If so, here are some of my top tips on how to write with a baby.
Use your time wisely, but don't plan. In other words, get rid of the notion that you'll write at 9am every day. Let me tell you, a baby runs on its own schedule. Some days 9am might be perfect, other days not so much. Rather write as soon as you can. Maybe the baby is having a nap, or perhaps he's happily amusing himself with his toys. Use that time. Don't procrastinate, don't worry if you'll have enough time to do anything, just do it. If you have to stop halfway through a sentence, that's okay. You might find the baby gives you more time than you thought you'd get, and that's always a bonus. Remember that every word written counts to the bigger picture.
Get a laptop. I have an office (well, it's mostly a baby room now). Do I use it to write now? Sometimes, but mostly not. Instead, I find myself writing on my laptop wherever my baby has decided to take a nap. For those who have dedicated nap spots, even better, but my little guy doesn't have that sort of structure yet. Most of the time he falls asleep on the couch, or on his play mat in the living room, so my laptop is generally plugged in and sitting on the dining room table. But if he naps in the bedroom or in his own room, then that's where I drag my laptop to.
Don't write anything too difficult. If you do, don't be too hard on yourself for taking long with the story. I enjoy writing thrillers and contemporary fiction drenched in the psychological, but they're tough books to write and mentally draining. Luckily, I also write easy and happy chick lit under my pen name, Grace Parks. So, while the baby is still young, I have decided to write a new series for this pen name. They're fun books to write and don't need as much brain power (of which I have little at the moment). I have an exciting new thriller book idea but I'm leaving it until next year. If you only write difficult books, go easy on yourself, and plan the book out a little more than you usually would so that you know where the book is going.
Stop in the middle of a sentence. The easiest way to write every day is to know exactly what you're going to write about, and stopping in the middle of a sentence ensures this. All you have to do is continue where you left off.
Write every day. Even if it's one line. The most important thing is to stay in the story, and leaving huge gaps between writing sessions will only make it harder to write. If there one or two days where you simply cannot find the time or the energy to write, then think about your story instead. Immerse yourself in the characters and imagine a scene in your head. This will keep you in the story and help you get back into it when you write again.
Mostly, through it all, don't be too hard on yourself. I love my boy more than I've loved anyone in my entire life, but I won't deny that having a baby is hard work. If you are planning on writing while having a baby, just chip at it slowly every day, and stock up on that coffee - you'll need it.
To my little Tyler - I love you for napping now so I could write this.