Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pen Parentis theoretically enters the blogosphere.


Walking back from kindergarten drop off today, I spoke with a doctor/mom whose husband is an award-winning journalist. "It's hard on him," she told me, "because of course he could theoretically volunteer at the school all the time." And isn't that the crux of being a writer/parent?  Working at our own pace, we theoretically have all the time in the world (time, even to start blogging!) to spend on our kids. How can it be that a loving dad or devoted mom doesn't spend every given moment at the school that he/she can? How can a parent say no?

I'll tell you how: writing is as much a 24/7 career as parenting. Being an author is no different from being the CEO of your own company. You have to constantly monitor your time--pay attention to the lure of social media, the distraction of laundry, the constant demands of your kids. Balance this out with ensuring you have time to write, some space of your own to leave out manuscript pages that won't get colored on, you have to make the mental space both for creative work of producing new sentences, for the hard-edged editing work of making those sentences perfect, and for the administrative work of ensuring that someone in the universe besides your inner critic sees the pages you have written. Monitor your time like a CEO monitors the money s/he spends on R&D, on marketing, on drudge work like filling out time cards.  Divvy it up: what's most important this week? Make a plan! In order to make this writing-thing a successful career, you're going to have to balance some tricky things. Think it's not juggling? Think again. For everything you choose to do, everything else is up in the air, waiting for you to eventually get to it.

But don't worry. People can juggle fire and knives--simultaneously. You'll be fine.

Set priorities, create schedules, make time.  It's entirely up to you.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I so agree. In September, when my four-year-old began preschool, I had 4 free hours a day to myself for the first time as a freelance writer. (I've written for over 10 years, but was also either working full-time in a job or as a mom.) So, anyway, this was the first time I had to step up and be the CE, "set priorities, create schedules, make time". It's hard! At first I felt pulled into volunteering - for my son's school and for my neighborhood toddler group. I felt obligated to meet friends for lunch, and get all my errands done during the four hours a day my kid was in school. What do you get when you add it together -- absolutely zero time for writing. Now I've scaled way way back on my school and neighborhood volunteering. No more lunch meetings unless specifically about work (meeting editors or agents). Now it IS up to me. And what I realize, is I had control the entire time, I just chose to create an illusion of not having it (being "too busy"). The hardest thing to do, sometimes, is make sure you're not too busy. Give yourself the time--steal it, as many writers say, b/c as parents, we really don't have much--to be your own person. Thanks for this. Cool you have a blog!