Friday, May 2, 2014
Writing and Parenting Without Feeling Guilty OR Losing Your Sanity
I wrote this article recently for Thalo Artist Community about being both a parent and a writer. There are some secrets to making it work. The Parent/Writer: Secrets to Surviving.
First, it comes down to what you're passionate about. Because it takes work and sacrifice. Too many people feel guilty for making their writing a priority. I'm a mommy and wife first, but there are times when I place my son in his playpen or I let him play by himself, or I make another hamburger and pasta meal. There are times when my husband watches my son so I can write. In the future, I think I'll begin asking a babysitter to watch him sometimes so I can write. It's because I see my writing as important. While I may not be "working," at least not for cash all of the time, writing is my work. In many ways, I feel like I am called to it. So, in short, passion is key. Don't put yourself through the grief and stress if you're not passionate about it. It's not worth it.
Secondly, creativity and flexibility are your friends. Love them, marry them, vow lifelong devotion to them. Get creative in finding times and places to write. Carry a notebook with you when you go to the park. Place a notebook on top of the stroller when you go for a walk. Get a voice recorder and dictate your ideas when you are making supper or driving in the car (though if multi-tasking is not your strong suit, please, please, just focus on driving). Get up earlier or go to bed later. Institute quiet times during the day. Make meals ahead. Love your crockpot. Don't feel bad for telling people "no" when they ask you to volunteer for something.
Thirdly, don't feel guilty. Every parent writer has to work through it for themselves, but I know for many of us, writing is not a "hobby" or a "selfish pursuit." It's something we agonize over. It's something we make ourselves sit down and do even when we just want to drink a hot cup of tea and crawl into bed. While I know it can be easy to feel guilty for "wasting" that time writing, I wonder if in actuality we're sending a strong message to our children. We are saying, "Here, son, this is what passion and calling and drive look like. This is what dreams and hard work looks like." While I have twenty or more years to wait until I know if this is the message I'm getting across to my son, I hope I can give him a heritage of what dreaming and doing looks like.
I'm still learning how to make parenting and writing work. I'm passionate about both. Any and all ideas are welcome! So, share away, what do you do to help you write and parent?