Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 24, 2012

Detours on the Writing Road

I have to admit that for a creative type, I am pretty type-A about some things. In many ways I am highly routinized, and in some ways I’m just a touch obsessive-compulsive. I like to set goals and reach them in an orderly fashion. I like things to progress steadily, to be able to count on a schedule, to be able to move forward at a predictable pace.

Then I had a baby, and all that went out the window.

Now my toddler is two, and I have learned a lot about rolling with the flow in the past 2+ years. My daughter does not nap predictably. She usually sleeps well at night, but some nights (like last night) she was up from 3-5 AM. I don’t know why. So my “free time” and my state of exhaustion varies quite a bit.

Therefore, I can’t count on moving forward steadily on my writing. This has been an incredibly hard thing for me to deal with. Before my daughter, I could churn out words like nobody’s business. Now I struggle to get a few hundred a day. It is frustrating, and at times I am impatient and irritated as my type-A facet conflicts with my Mommy facet.

But on the whole, I have learned to be a little more laid back. Being more flexible does not mean I am not as driven as I’ve always been—it just means I’ve realized the drive will be longer than I planned. I also have learned to be more forgiving of myself when I don’t hit my goals. Partly because I have realized I often set unrealistic goals, and partly because sometimes there are simply things out of my control.

For instance, two weeks ago my daughter had vomitus eruptus. For a week. Then I got it. For a week. I did manage to get some work done, but I was nowhere near as productive as I normally am. Things like this happen when you’ve got a kid. You can’t plan for it, and you can only get through it as best you can. So instead of beating myself up for not getting as much done as I had hoped in the past two weeks, I can choose to look at how much I DID accomplish and be proud of that. (Thanks to writer pal Jerry Waxler for teaching me the value of perspective!)

Perhaps at this time in my writing career, a weekly goal would be more productive than a daily goal. With toddlers, the doctors say not to worry about how much they eat in a single day—because that can vary widely—but to look at the weekly consumption to make sure they are eating enough. So with my writing. My daily writing can vary widely in productivity, so making a weekly goal may suit me better. Certainly looking back over an entire week will leave me feeling more positive about my progress than some single days do!

As I try to plan how to reach my goals from my current position, I do so knowing that there will be detours along the way. I hope to face such detours with calm and with an open mind.

After all, the same thing that makes a detour scary is the thing that makes it exciting—you never know where you will end up or what you will find along the way.

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Responses

  1. Happiest detour in my writing life: halfway through writing my memoir, I got an agent for my novel. “Re-calculating route”: I had to set aside the memoir so I can follow the first with another novel. 🙂 I can live with this.

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    • That is an awesome detour! I wish you many more such route changes in your future! 🙂

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  2. I try to work around the detour. Example, when I was caring for Mike at home, I brought my writing with me to the doctors’ waiting room. I’ve brought it to the emergency room as well. Sometimes though it’s extremely hard because caregtiving is so unpredictable.

    When your daughter gets older perhaps she can be a partner and critique your work.
    Popple

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    • Maybe! She already listens patiently when I practice pitching. I figure if I can hold her interest, I can hold an agent’s.

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