Full Steam Ahead: Why Having Kids Can Actually Make You A More Productive Writer

I almost didn’t get around to uploading a blog post this week, as I have been busy editing the final short story I intend to add to my self-published collection, due out in the next few weeks. This story has been sitting, in first draft mode, on my USB stick for several months. I didn’t quite know how to get the story to where it needed to be, and if truth be told, I also knew that I wouldn’t be self-publishing my story collection until around Easter this year, and without a deadline, I am hopeless. No, let me correct that. Without an urgent, imminent, there’s-a-steam-train-hurtling-towards-me deadline, I have no drive whatsoever. I don’t know if other writers feel the same. I am sure there are many who are awfully diligent and self-directing, and who can work at an even pace across their writing calendar. I would like to be more like those writers. But, no. I can quite happily wile away days and weeks unproductively, only to glance at the date somewhere and, with a jolt, realise that I have virtually no time left at all to do what I set out to do, oh, ages ago. And from then on it’s all pistons firing and all guns blazing and a race to the finish and… I’ve run out of clichés, but you get the drift. Ooh, there’s another one.

Time to make a start on that book?

Time to make a start on that book?

This might also explain why it has taken me thirty-odd years to get around to publishing these stories in the first place. All right, so it probably wasn’t going to happen during the first ten or so years of my life, but what have I been doing in the two decades since? Looking back, I had oodles of time in which to focus my energies on getting my writing into print, but instead, I waited until I was a mother of one, and about to drop another, before getting around to it. Talk about thriving under pressure.

James Joyce was quite possibly one of the slowest writers of all time. It took him on average seven years to complete each of his three published novels, and he famously could spend a day’s writing perfecting just three sentences. That’s a luxury I can’t possibly afford, but I bet Joyce wasn’t ferrying the kids to Gymbaroo in between penning his masterpieces. Time to yourself is a precious commodity when you have children.

It’s why I believe that having kids is the best possible motivator to Get Things Done. After Bubba was born, I realised how precious and short life is, and that I couldn’t put off those big ticket dreams on my bucket list any longer. And now, as a full time mum working from home, my writing is pocketed away into the short breaks when the hubby’s at work, Bubba is sleeping, the housework is done, and the dog has been fed. This doesn’t leave much time, trust me. Bubba is – thankfully – pretty regular with her nap times. And it’s amazing what you can get down on paper in the forty-five minutes it takes to run a wash cycle. Especially when you know that you only have forty-five minutes. My writing may not be better than it was pre-motherhood, but I’ve become a darn sight more productive since.

So now, with a month to go until Easter, I’ve finally decided to knuckle down, redraft that final short story, add it to the master copy of my short story collection, whip the whole lot up into a .PUB file, and launch it upon the eBook world. With the book’s launch date imminent, I am growing ever more excited about its release, but I’m trying to be patient until the book is truly, finally ready for publication. I have promised myself not even to disclose the cover art until the publication day, even though I designed this myself months ago. Ah yes, did I mention that, if there is any actual writing to be done, you’ll find me playing around with JPEGs and a publishing software tool, trying to find exactly the right font for my book cover? Because even though I may try to convince myself that I’ve got this time management thing down pat, there will always be room in this writer’s life for some good, old-fashioned procrastination.

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