Monday, October 25, 2010

Writers: How Do You Cope with Give Up Moments?

A smiling baby lying in a soft cot (furniture).Image via Wikipedia I’m feeling a little stressed these days.
Last night, and every night for more than ten months, I’ve had very little sleep. My baby likes to wake up every two hours, and get up for the day at four in the morning. I get up with him, which means by dinner I’m ready for bed.
Today, my older son happened to be sick, too. Now that my throat is sore, I’m suspecting he’s been kind enough to pass along his cold.
Still, it isn’t really the extreme lack of sleep or feeling under the weather that’s stressing me out. The sleep issue is ongoing, but I’ve sort of adjusted. The illness will be short-lived, so I can handle that.
No, the biggest reason I’m feeling stressed is because I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find time to write.
Though it sounds pretty insignificant, one issue affecting the amount of time I spend writing is the fact that my almost-ten-month-old son has recently become mobile. He’s crawling everywhere, pulling up on everything, and ready to go, go, go, all day long. Our house is pretty cramped, so danger lurks around every corner.
Now, instead of having a snuggle on the couch with baby and my laptop, and pounding out several hundred words, I’m jumping up every 30 seconds to redirect him to a safer crawling route.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m very grateful my son is healthy, happy, and full of energy. It’s just that I can’t possibly write more than one sentence at a time while he’s awake.
(Did I mention he doesn’t nap, either??)
The other day I was trying to work on a freelance piece in the midst of my baby’s exploration, and I started to realize there was just no point in continuing. It was physically impossible to do anything but follow him around everywhere he went.
I asked myself why I was even bothering with that article. In fact, for a while I figured I should give up not only the piece I was working on, but everything to do with writing.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if I didn’t care anymore? I could go back to watching television at night. I’d have more time to clean the house during the day. My mind wouldn’t be a constant deluge of nagging ideas.
Yes, it was perfect. So I said, I give up.
I did give up writing, you know—for about 12 hours. That was all it took for me to realize I just needed a break. I also realized that if I wasn’t in this for the long haul, I would have given up ages ago.
After some time to relax and rethink things, I came up with a great idea—an idea that would help me write and concentrate a little more, while ensuring baby had room to explore in safety.
I repositioned my older son’s bed to section off half of his bedroom, and moved all of his stuff to the opposite side of the room. When I need some time to write, baby and I go in there with some toys,  and shut the door. I sit on the bed with my laptop, and baby plays in the carpeted area in front of the bed. Voila! No need to redirect him—he’s safe, and he can even pull up on the side of the bed (as opposed to the t.v. stand or the bookshelf), or look at himself in the full-length mirror bolted to the wall.
It may not be an ideal situation, and my writing sessions are much shorter than they used to be, but the point is that rather than give up on writing, I found a solution to my problem. I also remind myself that this issue is temporary. Babies grow, they change, and one day I’ll have a lot more time for writing.
What things make you want to give up writing for good? How do you deal with them?
Please take a moment to share any strategies or tips you have for coping with give up moments.
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