Last Saturday I recorded on my buddy’s podcast, MandoVibes. Run by Armando Salas, he talks to all kinds of artists, everyone from musicians to actors to self-help gurus, and it’s all great stuff. I’ll post a link when it comes out.
In the discussion (spoilers, I guess) we discussed being a blogger in the age of social media, how we’ve moved away from longform writing into short-snippets, comic books and anime, as well as being a writer, or really any type of creative, when you have kids. I’ll try to give an abridged version of my answer when Armando asked me the hardest part about trying to write when you have twin sons, as it’s applicable to my last week:
As a creative type, you’re already going to be naturally hard on yourself, so there’s already that precedent set, but when you have kids? I have a great answer for that now, but a few months ago it might have been radically different, so here I go.
Don’t expect to get anything done in the first 6 months. Just, don’t. If you do steal away a few moments to practice or to pick up a pen then consider that a momentous win and don’t try for anything else. In those first six months you’re figuring yourself out, you’re figuring your baby out, and most of all, you’re trying to settle into a routine. A routine that routinely changes on a whim. I remember telling people one day early on that our boys sleep on 3-hour blocks so it should be easy for me to find a little work within those three hours.
The very next day, the boys refused to take a nap.
I felt bad about that. I felt bad that I didn’t get to do the work that I told myself to do. I felt like a failure. I felt like I wasn’t doing what I needed to do and that made me an awful writer.
Then the first six months passed and I looked back and thought, “What an idiot.”
Last week I set myself some writing goals to complete. Not daily goals, weekly, as to alleviate the pressure of getting stuff done day to day when I don’t know what my days are going to look like. Maybe the boys will sleep through their whole nap, or maybe I’ll be able to get all my household chores done in the morning so I can dedicate some extra time in the evening to a project, or maybe none of that will happen and I’ll get no writing done. The weekly goals are supposed to be adaptable, to allow me to work when I can so long as it all gets done by the end of the week.
It looked a little something like this:
-5 blog posts: COMPLETE
-Finish updating the outline for Project: DEED: COMPLETE
-Complete current chapter of Project: NESS: COMPLETE
-Write 5,000 new words for Project: GREY’s new draft: INCOMPLETE
I didn’t hit the 5,000 new words. I fell just short of 1k.
Maybe in those early days of having the boys I would have been hard on myself, beating up internally because I had the time, the resources, blah blah blah. But I know now that trying to write, trying to be creative, even without kids, is a difficult hurdle to jump over. That hurdle gets raised when there’s two adorable boys sapping away your energy and willpower because they want you to read “I’ve Loved You Since Forever” for the 9th time in a row.
Forgive yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. Know you’re doing your absolute best. It takes a little out-of-body thinking and observation to do this, but I know I crushed it last week. I know I worked my tuchus off to get as much done as I could.
Even though I didn’t hit my writing goals, I hit most of them. Even though I didn’t write the full 5k, I still wrote nearly 1k plus reviewed 6 chapters (since I’m adding on new chapters to a book that was already finished so it’s necessary for me to look over the stuff I already wrote one last time.)
Forgive yourself. You’re doing your best. This isn’t advice for creative parents, this is advice for any creative person out there.
For any person out there.
Thanks for reading,