Monday, May 08, 2006
There's something that's been bothering me for quite a while. When I first decided I would pursue a writing career, I read somewhere that in order to attain that goal I had to behave like a professional. Show up at the computer and write every day, even if it was just a little bit. No slacking or I'd never see the fulfillment of my dream.
Being the perfectionist that I am, this became the vision for my writing path. I purchased a calendar and proceeded to log in every time I did something writing-related. I was never so proud as when I had a whole week with something listed for each day. That stretched into a month, then two. Finally I had several months under my belt with most days filled with little notes. This is it, I thought. I've finally established a writing schedule.
Then the unexpected happened: I became pregnant. I didn't know at the time that the baby was a boy, but I should have considering my mind turned to mush before I even found out. There's something about those male hormones. My brain hasn't been the same since. What I did know was that I was terrified. Having been through three previous miscarriages, that first trimester becomes a pregnant woman's worst nightmare. Every cramp and ache saw me running to the bathroom, fearful I'd find evidence that I was miscarrying.
As you can imagine, all this drama had a negative impact on my writing schedule. I spent a great deal of time in doctor's offices; the rest of the time I tried to hold and console my daughter. At three, she didn't understand why Mommy couldn't pick her up or do a lot of our normal activities together. Then there was that mush factor again: I couldn't string two words together to save my life! This continued throughout the pregnancy, compounded by stories from acquaintances who always had a tale about so-and-so who quit writing the minute she had a baby. I feared my dream of publishing a book wouldn't survive the pressures of "newborn baby land".
I've since learned this isn't true. Life does go on. My urge to write returned about six weeks after the birth of Little Man, though I didn't have much time to indulge. Instigator and I were pregnant at the same time, so we reassured each other a lot and encouraged each other to continue writing when we had the chance.
Though I'm slowly learning that my writing schedule must change according to my life circumstances, I still struggle with the notion that in order to truly succeed I must work on my book every day. That if I don't, I'm a failure in some way. That I'll never be a true professional. Probably that perfectionist side of me again. Now I look at my calendar and see many blank days. Some because I just couldn't find the time to write or didn't make the time. Others because I was in such a hurry that I got the writing done, but forgot to write it down. :)
Do you feel pressure as an unpublished writer to produce at a certain rate? If you're published, how did you handle this before you got The Call? What kind of writing schedule works for you?