By Lisa Brown Roberts
I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Wild Writers since 2004. However, I have the unique distinction of still being on the “un” side of published. On my darker days, I remind myself that I’m also juggling a full-time day job, parenthood and writing. It’s bound to take me longer since my time to write is so limited…right?
Write Whenever and Wherever You Can
Before I became a parent, I had oodles of time and wrote into the wee hours, churning out three unpublished novels and lots of short stories. Then that darn kid came along, and I was knocked flat by the unending fatigue that babies bring. Just when my child entered toddlerhood and I joined the Wild Writers, my husband lost his job and we suffered a brutal few years of financial crises, home loss, and separation. I clung to writing with my fingernails. I feared that if I dropped out of my critique group, I’d give up my dream forever. Even though I didn’t write much during this time, I still read and critiqued my friends’ work, and reminded myself that just by showing up, I was still a writer.
Over the years I’ve written whenever I can: late at night, before the sunrise, during my lunch break at work, riding on subway trains, running away from my family for the weekend, sitting in the car while my son is at sports practice, waiting at the dentist’s office…on and on. Not long ago, I used a week of vacation time to write like a possessed woman! I had reached the point in my novel where I was so close to the end and I desperately wanted to focus on my story and nothing else. What I’ve finally come to accept is that my process is always going to be in flux. There are many seasons to our writing lives, and some will be more prolific than others. Trust your own process.
Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Now my former baby is an entertaining “tween,” my husband and I are blessed by a marriage made stronger due to the valleys we’ve climbed out of, and I am able to relax into writing again. I’ve been working on a YA novel for over a year now, and am just approaching the finish line. Soon it will be my turn on deck for a Wild Writers’ critique. I’ll be knocked upside the head by the ideas generated in the free-for-all exchange of rants and raves about my book, then go home exhausted but exhilarated and ready to revise.
Recently I’ve partnered with a few other critique group members to share our daily and weekly word counts via email. I’ve been surprised at how this small effort has inspired me. No matter how few (or how many) words we’ve written, we cheer each other on. Does it take me at least twice as long as my friends to churn out a book? Yes! Do they nag me in loving ways to hurry up and finish already? Yes, and I’m so glad they do!
These days when I sit down to write, I don’t berate myself for not sticking to a rigid schedule, nor for having missed my self-imposed deadline of publishing a novel by age 30…or by age 40. Instead I dive into whatever time I have, whether it’s 30 minutes or a 3-day retreat. I offer up a thank you to the universe that I’m free enough of stress and fear that the ideas flow. And I offer thanks for the Wild Writers tribe sharing the journey with me, who have never given up on the “un” one yet.
As our Whiney Writer says, “Writing is hard!” But it’s also joyful, amazing and transformative. Close your eyes and remind yourself of the hum of creative energy that fills your spirit when you’re in the middle of the creative dance. Now open your eyes, and write!