I have always loved writing. It feels like a core part of me. Writing helps me relax and to organize my thoughts. When I am writing for a little bit, I am at peace. It has always held a therapeutic quality for me. When I don’t write for a while, I notice that I am more anxious and on edge. Still, I have hardly written anything over the course of the past year.
It has been a tough year for everyone. I had to make a lot of adjustments very quickly as COVID hit, and I lost my writing routines in the process. A year and a half ago, I had this lovely period of about 3 hours most weekdays when I could accomplish any tasks I needed, recharge a tiny bit, and maybe even write a bit – all without worrying about being interrupted by the demands of my children. Then, that time was gone and I was busy helping my oldest with remote learning, while also trying to occupy my youngest and keep her from getting in the way of my oldest. My husband always worked from home, so that was not a huge change. However, it became a lot more challenging to keep the kids from bothering him while he was working (his office still does not have a door on it, something we probably should fix eventually).
Add in some cabin fever on the part of everyone, watching a friend’s child so she could go to work, added clinginess from both kids, and making the jump from remote schooling to homeschooling my oldest – and I lost all time for myself. I tried several times to get back into a writing routine, but honestly the time for myself just didn’t exist, no matter how hard I tried. Slowly though, I have been getting enough time that I could at least sit in front of the computer and try to write.
My youngest has been back in preschool this school year, which gives me about three hours. However, during remote learning, we discovered that my oldest really thrived in a home learning environment – especially once we switched to fully homeschooling and could customize his education and curriculum to fit him perfectly. So those three hours that I once had for myself, became the three hours that I tried to cram in as much of the one-on-one learning time for him as I could. Now that we have found our groove with homeschooling (and he has mostly finished his curriculum for the year), it is much easier to set aside a tiny bit of time. That is likely to change yet again in a few weeks when my youngest will be out of school again for summer vacation – but I am determined to continue to make the time to write.
Even more important than the lack of time to write, has been my lack of writing motivation. I am more certain that I can carve out a tiny bit of time for writing even without school in session, now that I feel like I have recovered my writing motivation. I have two main outlets for my writing, this blog and my fiction writing that I have been working on. For a while, I felt like I was on a roll keeping this blog updated and full of new content. However, with the past year and a half the world and news has been so overwhelming and tumultuous that I have largely avoided the internet and could not bring myself to generate new content. I felt that I couldn’t create content and just ignore everything going on in the world, but finding ways to write about and address everything going on in the world would just generate new layers of stress for me on top of my normal day-to-day life that had its own demands already. So, as much as I wanted to write and thought about it, when it came time I had neither the time nor motivation to get the words down on paper.
Fiction writing is my other writing outlet that I struggled with even before all the upheaval of COVID. I started hiding from that long before I started hiding from my blog writing. In 2019, I participated in NaNoWriMo. It was the perfect motivation that I needed to really focus on writing a specific story that I had been working on and talking about for years. The NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November was a success and I ended it with a very rough first draft of my manuscript. The problem was that it was rough, and I got the idea stuck in my head that it was no good. Every time I went to edit it, I ended up feeling at a loss with no way to fix it. I moved on to working on other fiction works, but was only able to accomplish things in bits and pieces. I continually felt guilty for not working on polishing my first manuscript instead. So slowly, the therapeutic feeling that writing gave me morphed into feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
All this time later, I finally sat down and reread my manuscript from beginning to end (usually I stopped at editing the first few pages). I had honestly forgotten all of what I had put into it. Yes, it needs editing and polishing. There are some small changes that I need to make and details to add. However, rereading it, I realized that I actually am very happy with this story and where it is going. I also found a new writing software, Dabble Writer that is really helping me focus and organize all my thoughts – which makes edits and rewriting feel much more manageable. Finally, I am back on track and motivated to get this project finished. I am hoping to have a finished draft by September, but I suppose that will depend on how much writing time my kids let me squeeze in.
All this to say, I am FINALLY back to really writing again, and it feels so good!