You’re a mom, and a writer. When the kids are in school, you kill it. You pitch a couple of times a week, you are stone cold consistent with your morning pages, and your article writing. You blog weekly and keep up with all your social media awesomeness. Hell, your house is even clean. You are the queen of freelancing, the Warlord of working from home.
Then the kids come home for the summer.
Your once comfy, quiet, predictable routine gets blown to smithereens. Distractions become a moment to moment reality. Between requests for food, referee calls and all the other inane reasons that children interrupt, you are lucky if you can get one sentence out onto the page before your attention is dragged elsewhere. What used to be effortless, becomes seemingly impossible. I mean really, don’t they know you’re trying to work here?!
Fear not, I have discovered that this is not how it has to be. Well, at least not entirely. Let me share with you a few things I have learned this summer about how to keep my practice alive once summer arrives.
1.) Don’t abandon the practice. – Even if you can’t seem to bring anything to point of publication, or even pitching for that matter, DO NOT GIVE UP. Writing makes you a writer. Not good writing, not published writing. Writing. Period. If you stop writing, then you are no longer a writer. KEEP WRITING.
2.) Snatch the bits – Keep a notebook handy for when you are out places and inspiration strikes. I have a tiny one I keep in my purse that has many little pieces of inspiration trapped in its pages.
3.) Grab the moments – Kids aren’t always hungry, or fighting. (really, I swear) Grab the moments that you can to jot down ideas, pour out some pages or just plain journal. Movies are great for this, as is playing outside. My desk is near my backdoor, so if I keep the door slightly open I can keep an ear out. Should disaster strike, I am ready to leap into action. Until then, I am writing. Not always good writing, not always articles or blogs or anything. I am just writing.
4.) Keep an idea list – I keep a file on my computer for ideas. Whenever one strikes me, I will jot it down there and then just leave it. When I lack inspiration, or feel like writing something a little more directed, I go there, grab an idea and work on it. Rather like I am doing right now.
5.) Lower your expectations – During the school year you can be a rockstar. When you have young children at home during the summer, rockstar may be beyond your reach. This doesn’t mean you stop. This just means that you have to adjust your expectations to match your reality. After all, summer vacation does not last forever, only about two months depending on where you live. It also holds many opportunities for new and different inspiration. Ideas keep. You can record them now, and then work on them when you have the time. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in September when they kids have gone back to school. I promise, they won’t go bad before you have had a chance to come back to them.
Writing is a calling. It’s a habit that we hold for life. If writing is something that you are called to, then you cannot give up. You must stick to your practice with the tenacity of Frodo carrying The One Ring to Mount Doom. You must never abandon the habit, like Sam never abandons Frodo. You must carry on. Through rain or sleet or summer vacation you must persist. Fairer times are ahead, as they always are. Perhaps in the struggle you will find the gem that launches you into the stratosphere.
Either that, or you will just keep writing. Like Dory, keep writing and forget everything else; your excuses, your doubt, your procrastination. Forget it all, and Just. Keep. Writing. Good Luck