Sunday, 18 March 2012

Cheat's guide to writing when life is in the way

As an unpublished writer just stepping out on the writing pathway, having a newborn baby is a bit of a barrier to my productivity. How do you keep writing when you have a family? If anyone has any great tips on keeping the flow going, please share them...These first few weeks are definitely going to be the hardest, so here are a few ideas I've had for convincing myself and those around me that I am still writing, honestly, even while I'm slumped on the sofa, breast-feeding - again.

1. Keep a journal of your baby's development. 
It's still writing, right? And it keeps your hand in.

2. Read.  Every good writer is first a good reader, and even baby magazines can be passed off as research for when you get round to pitching some parenting articles to them.

3. Daydream. Stare out of the window. You never know, the sleep deprivation might add a random element that sparks new, weird and wonderful ideas.

4. Find le mot juste.  Enforced sitting for long periods of time can lend itself to some writing or word exercises.  While you're sitting, your mind can be doing anything you like.

5. Keep your notebook of ideas going.  It only takes a couple of moments to scribble a phrase, or idea or observation down.  One day soon, you'll be able to polish one of those ideas into something worthwhile.

6. Exploit the new people you'll meet through your new baby as sources of ideas for characters.  Midwives, health visitors, other'll be thrown together with all sorts of people you might not normally have met - don't waste it!

7. Enjoy a writing magazine (or two). Hopefully you'll be inspired, or learn something new. At least it will keep you partially focused on your long term goals, even if you're taking a brief baby break right now.

8. Look for the magic in the everyday.  It's easy to overlook things, especially when you're swamped by the laundry mountain, or have burnt the dinner (again). But everything is material, and if you look at a situation from the right angle, or squint just a tiny bit, you might find something special going on in your life. You only get to be a new mother a few times in life.  Enjoy it and treasure it up to use.

9. Watch daytime TV.  And evening TV. And middle of the night TV. You never know what person or situation on a television programme might just trigger an idea or advance a plotline or subplot in a project you have begun. And you'll soon be so sick of television shows that when your baby starts sleeping through, and you've begun to get your life back, you'll be glad to switch it off, and spend the time writing instead.

10. Call yourself a writer.  It takes guts, this one, if you're unpublished (and perhaps if you're not). Make your commitment clear to yourself though - you are more likely to stick with it and succeed if you have a clear self-image of yourself as a writer.

I'm off to take my own  advice now...with a pinch of salt, of course.

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