Maybe some of you have noticed our blog has been looking a bit sparse lately. What the heck is going on with us? Are we slacking? Maybe a bit. But in reality, as Moms Who Write, we all know what’s getting in the way—life.
Living a life as a creative person is tough. You’re always trying to ride the waves of motivation and inspiration as they come, sticking to the routines you set to maximize your writing productivity in the small windows you have during the day. When things outside of your creative bubble approach with pins and needles, it can be challenging to stay in your make-believe world. To keep your characters and poetic surges alive enough to finish the story they need to tell.
When you are a creative person who has kids, staying in the bubble of creativity gets even harder. It feels like going to war every day.
There is always something.
There is always someone who needs a check-up, a dentist appointment, a meal, an activity, or a chaperone to keep them from trying to kill themselves. When they go to school, you think you’ll have more free time, but not so. Now, the little beings need help on school projects, reading assignments, field trips, and school dances. Then they have their sports and music lessons and after-school clubs and activities. In between all that is my nemesis—recreational obligations.
Birthday parties, baby showers, wedding showers, engagement parties, retirement parties, baptisms, gender reveals, and any other occasion people can think to celebrate. And with every obligation, there is preparation: gifts, food, babysitters to watch the kids, or activities to keep them busy. The times you find to create start to dwindle with every mark on the calendar, and you watch as your days tick away on the dreaded tally counter.
But when it’s all over, when your day has settled and your children are satisfied and you finally find yourself sitting in front of your work, creativity doesn’t just blossom. If you’re anything like me, my brain is still running feverishly every time I attempt to get words out. The words that do make it during these crazy times make my first grader’s writing seem far superior to what I manage to come up with.
When life is busy, I find myself drowning in my computer screen, shaming myself for the lack of creativity I possess in the ideal moment to create. I try to force it, but as a mood writer, it never goes well. I try to edit what I’ve written, but sometimes, my brain is just too fried to remember the basic rules of grammar. Then, eventually, the free time is up. I’ve come away with little to be proud of. I’ve wasted time I could have been cleaning or doing dishes or laundry. The madness of life starts again the next day, and I’m back on the roller coaster.
But that is life.
Life can so easily get in the way of our creativity and ability to create that sometimes we spite it for its existence. We curse all the odds and ends we’re expected to keep in place and the people who depend on us as mothers and partners and women of the world. Sometimes, life feels binding and suffocating when you desire your full energy to put into your passion. Thankfully, I found a silver lining.
Recently, I’ve felt a little overwhelmed by life, the good and the bad. I’ve been caught daydreaming, plotting life instead of stories during the times I’m supposed to be productive—the precious time meant for only writing. I became consumed by the overwhelming feeling of trying to meet all of life’s current expectations that have strained my will to create. All my words seemed shallow, unworthy of the effort I forced into them.
I started dropping the ball on everything writing-related, running around in person and in my head like a guard trying to tame the life that never slowed so I could get my creative drive back. The guilt of leaving it all on the side was eating me away. I had been on a roll. I was on top of my work and my blog and my poetry book. My dreams were unfolding before my eyes, and I could finally see them. Now I felt like a failure.
I was sinking into a pity puddle until a chat with an old friend changed my perspective about what I was going through. She said, You may not be writing about life right now, but you sure are living it. Simply put…she was right.
So I switched gears.
I started to take short and sweet notes on my phone. I jotted down my observations and experiences as quickly as they occurred. Stories, encounters, interesting people, crazy events, feelings I couldn’t shake of uncontrollable urges. Funny enough, I realized my writing brain had been working all along.
Sure, I was not finding time and energy and motivation to create. I was letting the hustle of life before the summer rush take hold of me and whisk me off to wherever it felt the need to bring me. I wasn’t getting many words to paper, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. My mind was self-consciously absorbing experiences I was too busy to realize would work wonderfully in future work. I just needed to tap in somehow.
Every time I made a note, my mind would categorize it into a WIP. My brain would flash quick thoughts of how it could work, where, when, what character it belonged to or what poetry collection it would fit. It was a new level of writing I hadn’t realized existed. An extended brainstorming session that started fueling my love for this busy phase of life, if for no other reason than to soak up as many ideas as I could.
If you have children, you’re busy. It’s inevitable, especially in the world we live in today. If you are a writer, you desire to create. It’s an undeniable urge that we can suppress all we want but a need that must eventually be met. As hard as it seems, there is room for both.
Living together in the mind.
The mother and the writer can live symbiotically in our minds if we remember that busy times are not forever. We won’t always be the organizer of everyone’s life. Any capacity we have to create, even if it’s in the form of scribbles for later works is a step in the right direction. It’s a step toward the bigger goal of one day creating the books you want so badly to hold in your hands. Baby steps on the way to your dreams.
About the Writer: Shell Sherwood is a poet, fiction writer, freelancer, and creator of silly children’s stories who could live on coffee, pastries, and romantic tragedies. She lives in Hudson Valley, NY, with her three boys and aspires to own a small writing getaway in every climate. Shell is currently working on her debut poetry collection. Learn more about Shell and follow her writing journey via her author blog, Instagram, and TikTok.