That Which Is Writing…

But is not putting words on page. Hear me out.

This is the first thing I’ve actually written since I returned from The Trip (caps very much required, more shortly) and I’m not certain my thoughts are even gelling. More like gelatinous: we’ll see.

As a father and a writer, I keep looking for some way to balance those necessities. I can’t let the kids starve (I also can’t make jokes about that until they’re old enough to feed themselves) or go without diaper changes while I lock myself in the office and pound out pages. Nor is it wise for me to indefinitely suspend wordsmithing while I give the littles all the attention their avaricious, little hearts desire. Or the resulting imagination pressure build-up (it’s like steam in a boiler, kinda) could well precipitate an explosion such that said avaricious little hearts would end up- but that’s a subject best saved for fiction.

I’m looking for that balance, and not really finding it. Mrs. Dave and I are looking into a long-term solution for childcare that frees me up from forced social interaction with creatures who aren’t sufficiently mentally stimulating to make up for not writing.

But there’s other parts to writing that aren’t physically typing words, lining them up in sentences, and connecting those in paragraphs, etc. There’s the skull sweat aspect. The thinking, which I’ve historically been pretty good at – though feels downright lugubrious when sleep deprived and starved of alone time – is quite possibly going to be key to at least maintaining the mindset of being a writer (possibly, [epithet of choice]. Is going to be key).

The trick, though, is organization, and that is a thing I have never been particularly good about. I’ve always been able to keep a sufficiency for keeping-on in my head. The bank account has about this much, less recent expenses. The bills are due about now, so pay prior. That kind of thing. But to manage this, I don’t think that method is going to be sufficient. And so I’m looking for a solution, there, as well.

In the very informal online writers’ water-cooler of which I’m a very minor part, we’ve been looking at the option of something to put on a hand-brain. I’ve got a mind-map app, but it’s something that hasn’t really fit the way my mental processes work, and I haven’t yet found something better.

Aside from that possible problem which may or may not need a genuine solution, this writer is doing much parenting. The daddy hat is the one most on my head, these days. After that, it’s the husband hat, as Mrs. Dave’s active duty-ness often requires flexibility on my part to make work.

The Trip was a Big Deal, and it’s likely better we labored under the assumption that it wouldn’t be, else it wouldn’t have happened. LibertyCon was excellent, as usual. I read an unreleased portion of a weird western upon which I’m working, and it was well-accepted. I was honored to sit upon a panel with the author GoH, Jonathan Maberry, and found him to be a delightful panelist, and had great fun kibitzing with him away from the mic.

The Baen dinner was a fraught affair, not because of the setting or food (both of which were excellent), but because Wee Dave attempted to give himself a two hundred degree facial bare moments before we were supposed to show up. The hat shed most of it, though he did end up with a blister that went especially well with the scrapes he gave himself the next week when he pitched out of a van onto a curb. I am reliably informed that he’s showing Mrs. Dave’s self-preservation instinct when she was his age, which bodes ill.

After LC, we spent time in Colorado with my family, with her family, with family of choice, with my family again, and then drove home. Thousands of miles, with a two-year-old, and a six-month-old. It was good, but it often wasn’t a lot of fun. It sure made me appreciate not leaving the house, which I’ve done a lot of since we got home. Not leaving the house, I mean.

Ramble over.

When life eats your time to put down words, it remains possible to do much of the work. I recommend *some* time to write. I’ve seen 250 words per day, or 500 for the ambitious, but getting some fiction written every day. My own key is not treating that work as something vital to accomplish. Make it fun, allow it to be weird, but do the writing. Heck, at 250/day, you still end up with a novel in a year. Not great, perhaps, but when – oh, for example – small children demand 90% of your time and energy, you’re still writing. And that truly is important.


  1. You can do it. You’re doing it. You’ll continue to do it until you’ve done it.

  2. It is a process. I find word count goals particularly helpful, especially small ones. When I exceed them I feel all triumphant. Currently, I’m slogging through three sets of edits from beta readers. I am not feeling triumphant. That only happens when several pages go by with no marks on them.

    1. That’s completely understandable. And I fully agree with celebrating the small things. I’m looking at gamifying (if I may use that neologism, things of which I normally disapprove) my writing. In the same way MMOs like WoW use behavioral conditioning to keep players playing, I’d like to create a writing system designed to keep me writing.

      1. There are places that do… there’s a place called 4thewords that basically is an RPG where you fight monsters by writing. There are tools out there that might help. (They also might distract.)

  3. Don’t forget standing accused of allowing a certain furry feline to escape durance vile for an entire day, only to discover that he fooled everyone and was hiding in Sarah’s still somewhat cluttered art nook.
    I think it was a conscious attempt to punish you for bringing small creatures more lovable than him into the house to steal away mama’s attentions.

  4. > looking for a solution

    There are tons of time management, outliner, reminder, tickler, or enhanced calendar programs. But I use a combination of an ordinary free-form text file for general items and ordinary file cards for daily reminders.

  5. I’m facing this, as my life reshapes itself (again) and I really ache to carve out some time to write, but have to balance that with work that pays *now* since bills aren’t patient for the creative process. Also, and not comforting I know, but two teens and a preteen are still pretty demanding of time. Albeit much more intellectually stimulating.

    1. Cedar, and once you have a job in a forensic lab somewhere, there won’t be “Yay! Everyone’s off to school!” anymore.

      Dave, they do get more independent. And then school, so you will have that invaluable alone time again.

      I’m getting practice with the other end of the life cycle, as my husband is teetering between “Geological consultant with no paying jobs” and retirement. So I have the thumping and banging around the house, the requests for food, grumpy complaining about “I need to do something. Let’s do something.” I’ve only kicked him out of my office a couple of times . . . so far.

  6. One of our friends swears that a Bluetooth headset and handbrain to allow rambling conversations with friends while still taking care of the baby is what got her through that baby isolation time. You might use the same notion to dictate while doing baby care? Also, if mind maps aren’t right, you might give Google keep a try — PostIt, reminder, list mashup?

  7. My sympathies – don’t know how you do any. I started writing when our third was almost four – it simply wasn’t possible before. I was sick, too, but if I hadn’t been I would have been working full time, so I wouldn’t have had the time to write either.

    I think they’re worth it: wouldn’t trade a one of them in. But, oh! the cost.

  8. Any chance you can tell your stories out loud to the carpet crawler? I was able to create and rehearse book talks that way. If you also have a means of recording your chatter?

    Godspeed. Just wait until your yard apes are old enough to play RPGs: story-crafting gold!

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