Parenthood. For the first three years sleep is cancelled. Gradually, it dawns on you: You have a chronic illness. You are not affected by the condition of being tired, you and the condition merge. You are tired. It’s been said the Eskimo have 50 words for snow. Parents have 50 words for tired. When the chronic illness called “parenthood” came into my life, my writing practice had to radically recalibrate. I’d like to share with you seven of the lessons I am learning on that bumpy road.
Break tasks down into small, manageable chunks
Ten minutes is actually usable time. Find ten minutes in your day and stick to it every day. It adds up.
Work in the midst of chaos. Don’t look for calm or more time. Sit down in the middle of it and write.
Be prepared to write in every situation. Make a mobile office. Have a notebook next to the cooker. Have a notebook in your diaper bag. Have a notebook on your nightstand. Wherever your “hot spots” are - put a notebook.
Become a skeptic of your own practice. Ask yourself : Am I too tired to write after the kids are in bed? Can I write while they eat their breakfast? It will seem tedious at first. But gradually you will do it without thinking and the result will be a practice taylor-made to your energy levels and lifestyle.
Scale down your practice. Don’t write novels. Write haikus. You need to get your work done so your work can teach you how to reiterate and make better work. There must be a trickle of ongoing work. A trickle is frustrating, but it keeps your work in motion.
Pay attention to your body. A creative mind is a relaxed mind. It’s not easy to achieve in the conditions of early parenthood. But make an effort to relax, sleep and eat. Do not let the demands of parenting and writing make you crazy; Both are a gift and should be treated as such.