I couldn't believe I was actually allowed to make one of those things, much less that I was expected to keep living life after he was finally born (more than two weeks overdue!). It would be way easier if I could just lay around huffing that delicious baby smell and kissing his chubby fingers, but alas, life goes on, and the urge to write persists.
Two weeks after he was born, I began "Six Moon Summer." I finished the rough draft in about a month.
Even though the baby has always been a pretty good sleeper, I found myself too exhausted and overwhelmed to sleep on many nights. I found myself laying in bed with nothing to think about except my aching lady parts, the tiny baby suckling at my breast, and all the cleaning that needed to be done around the house. I wouldn't sleep if I couldn't relax. So I turned my thoughts to those of writing instead and drifted away to a dark, beautiful forest where monsters made their home.
It's easy to plot on a sleepless night, but it doesn't help with writing and editing. It was kind of an adjustment, but now that my baby is five months old (!!!), I've found a few techniques to get the job done even when I'm attached by the breast to a very demanding little critter.
- Get on the floor. Babies don't like to be far from mommy. My little man will tolerate floor time much longer than usual if I sit right next to him. Rather than abandoning my work to sit beside him, I take the laptop with me. I can write or edit while staying close enough to keep the smallest, clingiest of niblets content.
- Master the art of nursing-at-keyboard. I've found this works best in an office chair with two nursing pillows so the baby is at boob level without needing to be held. Be careful with this as your baby gets bigger and squirmier. And keep your coffee away from kicking feet! This one is extra useful in the first couple of months when babies do nothing but eat and sleep in your lap.
- Don't be ashamed to resort to lots of toys or an occasional TV show. You may not want to spoil your baby, or you may think he shouldn't spend longer than ten minutes in the Jumperoo. But it's okay to spoil them a little bit if it gives you the space and time you need to get work done.
- Enlist help. It takes two to make a baby in the first place, so you can't be expected to raise him/her alone. My spouse has always been wonderful at taking the baby when it's crunch time and I have to get so many words done before we can go to bed. If you have people willing to help, take advantage of them.
- Get the baby involved. You're reading to your baby every day already, right? Of course! Read what you're working on to him/her instead of a bedtime story. Little babies won't understand the steamy sex scenes or scary parts anyway. They just like to listen to your voice, and they're the gentlest of critics.
Of course, it's okay to let things go a little bit when you have a little baby. Babies don't keep, after all, and there will be plenty of time to write and edit later.
Writer mommies, what do you do to stay productive with small children?