A Dad and a Writer: Month 3

So, as is painfully obvious from the posting hiatus, this isn’t working so well.

Don’t get me wrong, being a dad is awesome, my son is awesome, and life has been pretty good lately. But there’s just not enough time in the day to do anything anymore!

I’m not worried too much for the long term – we’ve secured a spot for the kid in the quite-awesome Quebec daycare system, so starting from next summer I’ll have entire days free for writing every week. And really, in a few months we’ll be out of the need-constant-attention phase, so I’ll be able to scrounge an hour here and there. But for now… even throwing a quick blog post together is a challenge.

… which means it’s time to adjust. Starting from now, I’m bringing my laptop to work. A thirty minute lunch break isn’t long, but it’s enough to get a few sentences out every day. And it’s really what I need – constant progress every day, so that I’m also motivated whenever I get time at home to write. Because right now, it’s hard to find that writing drive.

Hopefully, we’ll see that word count creep up soon.

 

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A Dad and a Writer, Part 3: Weeks 5 through 8

Fatherhood is kicking my ass.

Okay, not really. In fact, things are getting incrementally better now, with the baby sleeping a few more minutes between feedings at night, and especially since my girlfriend and I are getting better and more efficient at all those baby-raising tasks.

In a way, that’s the difficulty I have to face: the excitement of having a new baby has worn off and now it’s the routine of childcare that’s beginning to be a bit of a drag.

It’s the apparent lack of progress that does it for me – usually, there’s a big jump in cognitive and physical abilities at around six weeks of age, but my son was born four weeks early so in our case we have about two more weeks of feed/sleep/feed/sleep/feed/wash/sleep to go through before the next baby level-up.

Let’s be clear: the problem here is me and my expectations, not the baby. It’s funny, because I have the same problem as a writer: I’m super motivated to get started on a writing milestone (whether it’s starting a new chapter, finishing one, or whatever) but I find it very hard to deal with the middle part, since there’s no clear goal or marker of success. I guess that in both cases, I just need to power through until I reach the next exciting bit.

On a more prosaic level, I’m still struggling to find time to work on the whole becoming-a-full-time-writer project. Whenever I can scrounge up an hour or so, I use it to either look for prospective agents, work on queries, or even to actually write a bit, but that amounts to maybe an hour a day during the week once I factor in work and household tasks (and I do need to let out some steam sometimes.) I’m really looking forward to getting a few more minutes back every day, because I do think they’ll make a major difference.

Speaking of which – I have a few more minutes available right now, so that could be an entire additionnal sentence for Book the Second. Quick, to the manuscript file!

A Dad and a Writer, Part 2: Week 3 and 4

Let me tell you, I have this fatherhood thing licked.

(Or maybe it’s the hubris talking…)

We’ve beaten the hydra of household and baby-prep chores down to a manageable level, we’ve plowed through our heavier-than-usual uncancellable social calendar, and we’ve established a new life routine.

I say “we”, but really the big game changer was that my girlfriend now feels well enough to handle some of the tasks. The pregnancy was quite hard (as were the first couple of weeks after the birth) and so I had to cover most of the housework for a while. But now that she’s back on her feet, I’ve found myself with an overabundance of free time.

(Now, that’s not hubris. It’s hyperbole.)

Kidding aside, at least now I can squeeze in some uninterrupted scrivening from time to time, and that has done wonder for my morale. I was really afraid I would have to put my writing career on hold for a year or two. But now, I know I can juggle both fatherhood and writing.

It’s not easy, but at least it’s possible.

And it’s also… surprisingly simple. It’s really a matter of realizing that every five-minute increment of the day counts. Before, five minutes was an entirely optional look at my emails, a glance at the news, or some sort of aimless wandering on the Web. Now – it’s washing some dishes, or starting a load of laundry, or taking out the trash.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly – to the two or three hours a day I need to write. Speaking of which…

A Dad and A Writer, Part 1: The First Two Weeks

Well, it turns out having a newborn baby is hell on a writing schedule.

It certainly didn’t help that my son showed up four weeks earlier than expected. The house was a mess of boxes and bags of baby stuff, the baby furniture was halfway assembled, and that doesn’t even take into account all the stuff we’d put on the back burner in the mad dash to finish up our preparations.

But now that we’re back in the house, we’ve managed to catch up on those tasks (somewhat.) So I should be able to get back on querying and finally, FINALLY, get re-started on Book the Second soon.

I should… except that it’s become really, really obvious that my next few weeks are going to be lived in two-hours increments, which means my usual writing regimen of “mess around for an hour or two to get in the zone, then write until exhaustion sets in” isn’t going to work.  I’ll have to get serious about scheduling writing time if I want to get anything done.

(A tip for future new dads: don’t sweat the diapers. Changing them is really not that bad, it’s nowhere near as disgusting as you imagine plus it’s a couple minutes every three hours. It’s the hour-long feedings and the rock-the-baby-put-baby-in-bed-baby-starts-crying-rock-the-baby endless cycles that are trying.)

On the plus side, in the long run I’ll probably benefit a lot from a more mature approach to writing schedules. It’s just daunting from my current point of view. But I’ll make it work. Hey, I’ve managed to hammer out a blog post, at least. That’s something, right?