I used to think I was highly organized and extremely disciplined. I finished a screenplay every year. I regularly went through my closets and bookshelves and gave away stuff I no longer wanted or used. Birthday cards got mailed, and Christmas shopping got done. I kept neat to do lists. Everything was under control. And then I had a kid.
Here’s what I learned post-child: sometimes it’s better to go with the flow then regulate your life. It’s amazing how fast you can a) eat, b) go to the bathroom and c) eat dinner when someone with very large lungs really needs to either eat or go to sleep right this second. So quite a few things fell by the wayside for a couple of months.
When my son was four months old, I was fortunate to win a screenwriting fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. I used the money to pay for a babysitter and membership to the Writers Room. I parceled out my creative time in 3-hour increments. I rediscovered my efficiency. I had to finish my pages and get home. I realized in the past that I hadn’t been very disciplined at all. I had just had a lot of time.
This past year I’ve had to rethink my schedule again. Stretched between marketing, blogging, touring, freelancing, parenting and writing another book, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things. I started writing at night, which I always said I could never do. I got up really early to write (something I remember doing in high school to study Calculus). And I wrote in short bursts during the day instead of having the leisure to write for hours at a stretch.
This summer, my attempts to put my head down and write the third Lydia McKenzie book have been stop and start. Unfortunately it’s been mostly stop. My son no longer naps, but bursts into my office every few minutes to tell me things. But I’ve discovered that occasionally hanging out in kid time is restful and can be good for the creativity. I’m not stacking up pages, but I am getting lots of ideas while swinging on the swings for an hour after dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to make a schedule as soon as school starts, but for now both my son and I are a lot happier without one.
9 Replies to “Time+Discipline+Creativity-Procrastination=Book (I hope) by Deb Meredith”
Oh, I can so relate to this!
“I parceled out my creative time in 3-hour increments. I rediscovered my efficiency. I had to finish my pages and get home. I realized in the past that I hadn’t been very disciplined at all. I had just had a lot of time.”
This is how I felt after the birth of kid number two.
I know what you mean about “kid time.” Blowing bubbles and building sandcastles is sometimes very good for one’s mental health, especially in the midst of a book launch.
You guys are good! I had to switch to short story writing for about 14 years. Now that both sons are out of the house (ok, one is back, but he’s 23 and takes care of himself), I can carry a book along from Friday to Friday (my only non-weekend non-work day) and feel that I am actually making progress.
Making progress, even if it’s only baby steps, is always a good thing Edith. Many moms have become poets and short story writers because they have only small windows of time. The important thing is that they’re exercising their creative muscles and not giving up.
Kris–In the middle of a book launch, it’s essential to get away from the craziness for a little while and clear your brain. I definitely think I should have blown more bubbles!
As a mom of three kids, I can relate! It takes so much concentration to get to that place where your characters start to think and talk and move around, and that’s usually the time someone needs something or the phone rings: “Uh, Mom. I’ve been in an accident,” or “Can I have a party this weekend?” and my personal favorite, “I need a ride to….” It’s almost impossible to get any kind of writing done and I find myself counting the hours until school starts. But it’s with mixed feelings: it’s been a long time since I went swinging on the swings with my kids. I’ll have to settle for those precious few minutes alone in the car with them while we’re running to pick up a friend, or a book for summer reading, or new shoes for school.
Not to mention that unless a writer lives his or her life, s/he has nothing to write about! Not that your kids are inspiring any of Lydia’s adventures, I hope. But we all need to refill the tank in order to keep running!
Oh, and of course, this means that when I have kids, I’m COOKED.
Nah, Katie, you’ll realize you have undiscovered wells of efficiency you didn’t know you had! I always say that motherhood is the necessity of invention. Something like that.
That’s so true, Kris! You would be able to use all those skills you have already Katie (a quilted baby blanket! Quick look on the internet for a diagnosis of your child’s rash!) and just make up what you needed.
Carla–thanks for reminding me to slow down and take more time to enjoy this time. Kids are only five once, and soon he won’t want me as a playmate anymore!
I just had my third child nine months ago,and my creativity came to a screeching halt for a while. Part of it was deliberate; I know he’s my last baby, and I wanted to savor those early months at home with him. But I go back and forth between feeling guilty/stressed that I haven’t written as much on the second book as I’d hoped, and feeling happy that I am spending a lot of time with all three of my kids this summer. As you say, Meredith, school will be here soon enough. We’ll all buckle down to work then!
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