Ordinarily this blog offers tips, pointers, secrets of the writing life you can implement in your own mysteries and shorts. But life’s kickin’ my keister recovering from a rotten cold and two vicious sickle cell crises in as many months, so let’s have a little fun. For this post, I’ve on my what-happens-when-life-demands-my-writing-time Life Coach cap for insight, wisdom, and experiences dealing with the not-so-nice parts of your writing life. I’m positive these brave ladies who’ve asked theses questions, you, Everyday Susan and Typical Jo, have asked yourselves this, too.
So let’s get to it!
Q: Dr. Missye, what’s some good writing advice you can offer? I’m a mom to two under eighteen, working full time, keep house, and have a husband. Where do I find writing time?
Did I mention my kids are Gen Z, I’m a Gen X’er, and my husband’s a front-end millennial? HELP!!!
A: Great question, Eugenie! I’ll do my best to give a satisfactory answer–but at the end of the day, you have to go with what’s best for you in your situation.
Firstly, being pulled in multiple directions is awful, isn’t it? Nobody understands. We’re stuck between generations. Or you’re feeling it more than the others do. Whichever the case . . . just . . . breathe. In. Out. Repeat. Remind yourself as you deep breathe: This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass.
You’re good? Talked all down? Okay.
So. You’ve babies under eighteen . . . aawww. Cherish them now; they’ll be grown and gone before you know it. This’ll be antipoden in what you want to hear, but your writing life may need to hit pause as you raise your kidlets. Too many authors have neglected their kids for their imaginary worlds, justifying this with the millions they’ll make to make up for it. Wrong. They want YOU, not possessions (yeah, I’ll say it: “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, anyone?), so be there for them. If you must write, do so when they’re asleep, while they’re in school, or involved with other peripherals.
In working full-time while shoehorned in with caregiving aging or ailing family members and meeting your own nuclear nest’s needs, tight time organization is essential. During obligation breaks, maybe jot lines for your story, post a quick character sketch, a scene outline, or untangle a plot kink via a story device app. Or unwind with an audiobook. Find snatches of time you can to put into write, draft, outline, hell, even sleep. Some “you” time is essential and not at all wasted during this hectic activity, too. You’ll go bats if you don’t.
Note this, if nothing else: Please don’t compare your writing like and time with anyone else’s. You’ll only discourage yourself, and to be honest, why waste that time and energy you can’t get back? This is your path. Walk it as you do. And in perspective, if providing for your family is more important than creating and crafting for the time being, so be it. Your situation isn’t anyone else’s, and you don’t know the real goings-on of that life you think is so put together, either. In other words, as your kids’ gen says–much like ours did–“Eyes on your own paper!” And just do you.
If the writing bug bites that badly, delegate house chores to hubby or area kids needing a fast buck. Have the kids clean their own room(s) and other rooms if they’re big and old enough, or they can regularly clean a room you always do. Oh, and forget perfect; the job’s done, and it’ll get dirty again regardless. But you got some writing in, and practice makes perfect, which applies to chores, too. Have a child or hubby giving you consternations–that’s also known as pitching fits for those of you in #RioLinda 😎–? That’s real easy. Make them Bed-Making Captain! Or the CDVO–Chief Dusting and Vacuuming Officer! If you give an important title with the chore, they might not complain about having to do it. Or trade–they do the work, you write, and you make their meal favorites when the chores are done. I’d’ve suggested not make a meal at all to the selfish family members, but . . . uh, well . . . calls to Children’s Services aren’t invited to be part of your life, or of this post, and nobody wants that 😏.
We all get the same 24 hours in a day. Some can get more done in that day than others. If you’re not one of them, that’s fine. Where’s it written you have to do everything in this life you wanted to do? Some things are worth leaving aside for the joy in others–and the best thing, in my life coach opinion, is raise your kiddies, be their mommy, and love every minute of their young lives. The writing will be there when they’re grown, gone, and you’ve got time to make their empty bedroom into your personal writing studio. #360Win Hope this helps. And the very best of luck to you!
Q: Hi, Dr. Missye . . . I sure hope you can help me.
I’m involved with a man I met online. “Rod” is in Utah, I’m in Maine, and we’ve been talking regularly for almost eighteen months. We both want to make it work, but for one sticking point–he disregards my writing (I write poetry and am working on a memoir) as a flight of fancy and thinks it’s pointless. Any advice?
A: Hi, Constance (oooh, I love you name!)! Thank you so much for your question, it’s awesome! :).
Hmmm . . . well, there’s two answers for this: the starlight and moonbeams answer, or the tough-love, OG NYC gal, answer. Which do you want?
Oh, good, the tough-love answer. The starlight and moonbeams answer–yeah . . . I got nothin’.
This is a two-part question, so I’ll take the obvious one first. If you and Rod really want this to work, possibly you can meet halfway between your home states and make a weekend of some touristy spots in Indianapolis (been there; lovely city, that!), Nashville (for me, it’s meh, but you might dig better’n I do.), or go big and bold in New Orleans. The idea is to find if you honestly have chemistry more than just talking online? You have to be in one another’s spatial space to know if there’s electricity between you two in real time (Yeah, #RioLinda, lookin’ at you–that’s IRT spelled out!). If he balks or bails, give him time to explain why you felt like a big box of swampy skunk-ass getting stood up–or have the pleasure of telling him off before you declare you’re never bothering with him again–but in your gut, you’ll have your answer.
Second part: when you say he disregards your writing, you weren’t specific. He disregards it how? Does he call it degrading names (“silly,” “waste of time”)? Is he dismissive (“Who’s gonna buy it?” “Are you any good?” “Aren’t you a little old to play pretend?”)? A deeper question–why do you let him do this to what you hold dear? What’s been your response? Have you defended it? Have you asked him to not invade that boundary? If he’s this flippant about your creative choices, it’s time to play Pick A Door. You can choose Door, Stage Left by never mentioning this to him again–on this and other issues, you don’t have to always see the same POV–but he doesn’t get to disrespect you verbally, permitted his opinion notwithstanding. If he cares for you as he says he does, he’ll choose wiser words in the future, Men, I’ve found, either grunt through the English language while gnawing the last of a meat bone’s marrow, or they’re superfluously verbose in speech–cape, sword and all–much more than women are.
BUT . . .!
If he’s really been nasty in his views about your writing life and creativity, I’d ask why he believes this the case, and ask why does he need to be so cruel expressing himself this way. While sharing, while you respect his having that stance, it hurts you he does hold it. You mentioned this has been a sticking point between you two, so I’d imagine y’all have been talking about it. Maybe he’s insecure how far you’ve gotten. Maybe he’s threatened by what you can do what he’s strove to do and couldn’t achieve. Maybe he genuinely believes you’re not good enough, but can’t bring himself to say it. Whichever the case, it’s on you to protect your creativity. You do this by a): that’s a boundary he never crosses if you and he plan to make this work; or b): end the relationship if he can’t respect your stance or refuses to quit violating that boundary. You respect his having those views, asinine as they may be, and likely told him so. If he claims to hold deep feelings for you, he’ll rethink his position with care and wisdom, keep his views to himself, or work on himself to abandon them altogether. You deserve peace of mind, body, soul, and spirit. Get that however you can. If he’s incapable of holding up this side of the relationship, things between you and he might’ve run its course.
Thank you for letting me share this angle of the writing life with you. Everything touches everything else. When you’re emotionally instigated, it’ll resonate in your writing world in the most profound ways.