In the past few weeks, I’ve been conducting an accidental experiment.
I try (as much as it’s possible with a toddler) to stick to a writing routine, in which I write a little every day whilst Violetta is having her nap.
I’ve gradually retrained myself to make writing in these short bursts work for me. In fact, I wrote almost all of The Dream during Violetta’s much shorter and more unpredictable morning naps when she was still a very small baby. Even though I was chronically sleep deprived, I often chose to write rather than grab a nap myself because writing gave me a real sense of achievement in amongst the endless rounds of washing, ironing, nursing and cleaning up.
Learning to write in this way – sinking into it quickly, maximising my time, never knowing when I might get interrupted – is probably also a really good way of bypassing that annoying inner critic.
But in the past few weeks, the routine has been disrupted. Chaos has descended on our house in the form of workmen with hammers, chisels and serious power tools. We’ve been completely renovating the bathroom of the 1960s house we bought last year. We’re lucky enough to have two lovely, considerate and completely helpful plumbers – but still, it has been quite a challenge with an eighteen-month-old who needs quiet time and a nap in the middle of the day. Consequently, I’ve been focusing on trying to help Violetta to adjust – walking her around in her buggy so that she could sleep or taking her to my parents’ house so that she could try to nap in a travel cot. I’ve struggled to keep up with writing a little everyday – and I’ve really been feeling the effects.
I find that it’s so much easier to keep going with a book project when you do a little each day, however little that little might be – and sometimes for me it might be just 500 words of new writing, or read-throughs and a few revisions. But by keeping my hand in, I find that the book never goes cold. I’m always thinking about it in some way, nurturing it, moving it along. Writing is a part of my daily life and I feel as if I’m still a writer as well as a mummy.
Having taken days off here and there over the past weeks, I’m now finding it much harder. It’s harder to write myself back in to the world that I’ve created. I feel full of self-doubt and my brain seems to have forgotten how to settle into the writing quickly. I’m pushing on through and hoping that I’ll start to find things easier again very soon.
So, there you go. My unintended experiment has proved to me that writing a little every day really does make things easier. Even if you have a hectic and busy life – as most of us tend to do these days – committing to writing just a few hundred words on a daily basis can make all the difference.
If you’ve never experimented with writing every day, I highly recommend it.