It may sound counter intuitive, but having children has made me a more proficient and prolific writer. Changing diapers, getting vomited on, turning everything into a spaceship, making lunch, cleaning that lunch off the wall, making second lunch, engaging in arguments I have no chance of winning because two-year-olds don’t have even a basic grasp of logic, reason or the laws of physics is time consuming.
It forces me to budget my time and use those chunks of time I can carve out for writing with ruthless efficiency. The first step is to identify significant timesucks and eliminate them. I haven’t played a video game in two years. I haven’t binge watched Battlestar Galactica (just calling Battlestar a timesuck makes my heart cold) in even longer. One of my greatest fears is that I may never again. Once those time pits have been filled in, the next step is squeezing every second out of the time left over.
These have proven the two most useful writing tools for doing that:
1. Mobi Wrap
I’m wearing one right now with an infant hanging off my chest. It’s wonderful. First reason it’s wonderful – the child is contained and incapable of causing harm to himself or others. The only thing you need to watch out for is the occasional headbutt to the chin. They will happen. Walk it off. But he’s safe. He’s sleeping. My ears don’t burn at every static-y whimper that comes through the baby monitor. I don’t fill with dread that he might wake up and my writing session will get cut short. Because he’s right here. And he’s out. And I mean like a light. He sleeps like a champ in this thing. I poked him just now and he didn’t even flinch. If he does stir, I just “Twinkle, Twinkle” that kid back to sleep and don’t even have to stop writing. Peace of mind and free hands.
Wearing the baby forces me stand up while I write. I stack some books on the kitchen counter and set my laptop on top of that. I find I’m more productive and less prone to mindlessly browse the internet when I’m standing. Scrolling through cat memes just seems ridiculous when you’re standing.
2. Coffee. Good coffee.
You don’t put low quality gas in your race car and expect it to run at peak efficiency. I think this analogy works. I don’t know anything about cars. A good artificial stimulant is key to making your word count by the end of the day. I wake up at six, before the kids get up, so I can get some writing in before I head to work. Then I start writing again around ten, after the kids are in bed, until about one. Just writing that almost made me fall over. Which would have been extremely dangerous because there is a baby strapped to my chest. Luckily, there was a cup of delicious, extremely strong coffee nearby.
While there are other artificial stimulants available, I strongly advise against using them. Many of them rot your face off and burn holes in your brain. It is extremely difficult to write quality content without a face and with holes in your brain. And I highly doubt any of them taste as delicious as a good cup of coffee.
Some writers prefer the traditional whiskey, often paired with a tweed jacket with elbow patches and a deep sense of longing. While I do love a good bourbon, drinking it makes me almost immediately fall asleep in my sweatpants. Because that’s how I drink alcohol now. In sweatpants. And sometimes slippers because my kitchen floor is cold.