I struggle with the opposite of typical “writer’s block,” which I understand to be sitting down to write and not knowing where or how to start. My problem is quite literally a “block” from writing – two little munchkins who all too often act as a physical barrier preventing me from sitting down to write! This can be supremely frustrating, as I’m sure every other parent out there has experienced in some form or another. After all, having kids means a total shift from personal freedom to full-time responsibility for rather helpless little beings.
Picture this scene: Baby has gone down for a nap. “Mommy needs to work a bit,” I tell the toddler. He’s happy reading books on the couch. I get lost in writing, forget he’s wearing underwear. Next thing I know, he’s peed on the couch. I stop writing, clean up sobbing child and soaked couch. He’s no longer interested in reading, wants to play. He climbs on me as I type, reaching out to press keys as I swat away his hands; he giggles uncontrollably as he slobbers on my face, claiming they’re kisses. I remain surprisingly focused, trying to interact enough so as not to feel like a horrible mother, yet wanting to finish my article before baby wakes up.
No such luck. I hear the wails and save my draft with a sigh. Baby needs to nurse, then fills his diaper. We traipse upstairs. I might as well fold some laundry that’s been lying around for days. Forty-five minutes pass before we’re back downstairs. “I want a snack, please!” If I don’t act fast, he’ll open the pantry door, grab the peanut butter and a spoon, and go to town all by himself. Quick intervention needed: I cut up some fruit, which tides him over for a bit. By the time I sit down to write again, hours have passed.
There is a benefit to this, however. While tending to my kids, my brain continues to collect ideas and think through the next posts I’d like to write. I scribble down ideas in a notebook, so that when I can write, I don’t waste time figuring out where to start. My English-lit-trained mind has the main points already categorized, just waiting to be typed out!
The domestic chaos has also taught me to be fast. I never know how much time I have before the inevitable interruption comes, so I blast through anything that’s slowing me down. If a paragraph doesn’t feel right, I can’t waste precious time pinpointing the problem. I erase it and think, “What am I really trying to say?” Then I rewrite it completely. I’m not saying this is the best approach, but it’s one born out of necessity.
A few people have asked me if I ever run out of ideas. Initially I was worried about that, but I’ve discovered that the more I write, the more I have to say and the more I want to write. I need only look around myself for inspiration. Maybe it’s kind of like “seeing the world through the eye of an artist,” except this time it’s a writer’s eye! As long as I’m alive, there will always be ideas floating around, just waiting to be grasped, and stories waiting to be told. The most fun is when I have a tiny speck of an idea that suddenly explodes into something much bigger, as I start making connections that I never would have if I hadn’t started writing about it.
So, really, it’s thanks to my kids that I manage to write as much as I do! Knowing how they are, I am driven to squeeze blogging into the hectic life we lead. It’s mutually beneficial: I feel like a semi-normal adult by having a rewarding creative project on the go, and they learn to play independently. Let’s hope that my two little writer’s blocks continue helping me to be constructive!