I spent two weeks in Crete at the end of May. We landed in a wonderful cradle where all we had to do was play, sleep and eat. My daughter played by the beach and in the pool and she loved the hotel playground. And we grown-ups got a chance to just be for a while, just be. It’s rare albeit necessary.
Vacation always brings me ideas, lots of ideas. I can admit that the ideas flourished more when I didn’t have a two-and-a-half year old to chase but kicking back and watching the ocean meet the horizon does wonders for the creative soul.
So now that we’re home, back in our everyday life, I have this big idea to work on. It consumes me but this time I can’t allow it to consume all of me because -me- is occupied with said two-and-a-half year old. But I get my moments and my mind works when it gets breathing space. And occasionally, as often as I can, I sit down and put words on (Scrivener) paper. I don’t have time, really but you have to make time.
So I’ve noticed a few things about writing when you don’t have time (really) and in the spirit of listing things I’ll make a little list:
1. The less you write the rustier you get
I’m not sure (and this scares me) that writing is like riding a bike. You may have known how to do it once but you do get rustier with time if you don’t work on it. The flow gets harder to manage and the words start to stagger and hiccup on the page. You become insecure and this leads to less writing. Vicious cycle.
2. The wish to write doesn’t go away
It becomes stronger. So strong that I get the urge to get up at 3 o’clock at night when people sleep and write down the silliness in my head.
3. Writing ideas pile up in your head
My head (and hard drive) is filled with unfinished ideas. Ideas that I’ve started and left for better time. Ideas that I haven’t started. Ideas that I’ve left for “dead”. And ideas that are still mostly unborn. I guess (and am hoping) that the best ideas will be relentless and will fight for their existence (I am supposed to be the one fighting for them, huh?).
4. There are a lot of excuses but not one that should stop you/me
Writing with little time over is challenging. The most I accomplish these days are short-short stories. Micro stories really. I work on bigger projects. I write but the pace is slow. And I always have an excuse. Writing when A is playing is possible, good even, but being interrupted constantly does a thing to your writing. And having only short bursts of writing at a time (and rarely being able to sit down for 2 hours or more) makes it hard to get to the “good stuff”… where the words flow better and the story/characters start to make sense. There are no excuses for not writing… yet I have tons of them.
5. Doing other creative things helps
Going out and photographing parks, the city or anything you happen to come across helps with the creative process AND it can be done with a 2,5 year old. She loves to get a chance to pick flowers and terrorize ducks. Reading helps and that you can do in small concentrated bursts (a page here, a chapter there). And thinking helps. Thinking is free and you can do some of the work in your head. You can structure plots, you can come up with new scenarios, you can focus on your characters – a lot of writing happens in the head and can be done while building Duplo houses or coloring Hello Kitty.
The trick is to do some *actual* work too – get what you think about down on paper and if it isn’t good enough? Then at least you are practicing.
It’ll get easier.
6. Writing is a priority
You start to rearrange your priorities when you have children and you start to notice what it is that REALLY matters to you. The things you really want to have time for. If you had your priorities straight before you had kids kudos to you! But having a child sharpens them if nothing else. And to me there are two things I need to have time for – running and writing. Run and write.
And in the spirit of time management I’ll post this without reading it through to make sure all my t-s are crossed and my i’s dotted and instead of doing that I’ll write.