As those of you who’ve been following me for awhile have seen, I’ve slowed down a lot since having a baby in terms of production. Some of this has been the simple fact of postpartum depression–a truly nasty thing no one should experience. But the clouds are lifting and I’m mostly on the other side.
No, at this point what I’m realizing more than anything else is that the writing life is intensely energy intensive. My old process pre-baby was predicated on having a block of at least five hours (it takes awhile to force myself into “flow” if my mood is pretty off to start) and being fully rested–or having the freedom and time to take a nap to become fully rested. Sadly, with the kiddo still up at night multiple times on many occasions, that’s not really something I can count on. I am exhausted–a lot. And my old system falls apart under these circumstances.
So, obviously, it’s time to find a new system. I’ve tried about a half-dozen things, including dictation, and will probably try a dozen more. Life with toddler is a moving target so it makes sense my work habits will have to become so as well, but I’m going to make this work and start getting books out the door again, even if it takes trying All the Things.
The biggest takeaway? There needs to be a plan for the day I’m so tired I can’t cope, otherwise one day will turn into two will turn into five of me doing just the minimum. I’ve been working with Cathy Yardley on finding that system, and here’s our big (and surprisingly effective) takeaway:
Yep, you read that right. Just ten minutes. Turns out hours of writing is too much to get my head around. Twenty minutes when I’m that tired seems like a billion, and I end up on the internet surfing. But ten? Ten is my magic number, apparently. I can manage ten minutes on a day I’m so tired I think my head’s going to explode. And ten focused minutes for me is often 300 words. So it’s little, and it’s not everything–there will be much experimentation yet to do, I’m sure–but having a plan in place for the day when everything goes wrong and I’ve got *nothing* is going to be important.
Because it’s always something.