Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Finding Time

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire

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Getting Up Early, but Not to Write

 

Recently, I've settled into a productive writing routine. I have two hours to write if I drop my daughter off at school by 8 a.m. and save everything else for after my teaching job.

It's lovely. And for some reason, I decided to mess with it.

First of all, I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Murikami is a long distance runner. In the book, he mentions that he wakes up at 5:00 every morning to run, then writes.

Hmm, I thought. I should do that.

Then, a friend won a first book award. She mentioned in an interview that she gets up early to write. Another friend-of-a-friend announced his plans to quit his job to focus on writing. "He's very committed," my friend said. "He wakes up every day at 4:00."

That's it, I decided. I'm getting up early tomorrow.

And get up early I did -- at 2:30 am. My daughter was shining a flashlight in my face, whispering, “Juice, juice!" By the time I'd convinced her it wasn't morning, it was 4:00. I didn’t get up to write. I went back to sleep.

The next night, this happened again. It happened every morning for four mornings.

Then, it didn't. I woke up at 5:00. All was quiet. Today was my day. I quietly made coffee and settled in to write. Then, upstairs, I heard footsteps. Quick little footsteps which scurried to my bed, paused, and began to make their way down the stairs.

Ever since that day, Amelia has been waking up early--4:52, 5:35--no matter what, it's early. So since then, I’ve been waking early too. Not to write. To get juice, to read stories, to play elaborate games involving parades and cowgirl hats. Or, when my husband gets up to do those things, I do what any sensible mother would do, and I stay in bed.

I told several friends about the problem. "I think the universe is telling me not to get up early to write," I'd say. And I'd tell them about the convergence of all the early-morning people, whose stories had made me feel uncommitted to my writing.

"Those people don't have children," my friends would point out.

"Yeah," I'd say. "But..."

I never managed to finish my thought. What did I want to say? But that shouldn't matter. But I'm a morning person, and I love to write in the morning. But, I kept thinking to myself, I should be doing more.

Until, finally, I thought, why? Why should I be doing more, when I am teaching a class, raising a preschooler, and writing six hours a week? There are no "buts." Those writers don't have children. I do. And right now, I have a fun-loving early bird.

I don't think this problem of always feeling the need to do more is limited to mothers who want to write. Most of us live with the fact that we only have so much time, most of it taken up by things we have to do.

And that’s okay.

I notice that when I feel anxious about spending time not writing, whether for chores like grocery shopping, or for fun things like having lunch with a friend, I am unhappy, rushed, and distracted. When I accept that my life is full and involves lots more than writing, I am happy, present, and calm. I actually like grocery shopping, anyway.

And though I won't complain if she starts sleeping a little later, I like my happy mornings with Amelia.

Note:  This post first appeared on Kimberly's blog in March, 2013.

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Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.


Kimberly O’Connor’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Copper Nickel, Hayden’s Ferry Review, storySouth, and elsewhere. She also writes the blog Poet’s Guide to Motherhood. She lives in Denver with her husband and daughter, Amelia.


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Thank you for this! So true...and these words will calm me down next time I get anxious about not writing...
Such a funny and real article. Words that writing moms need to hear!
I loved reading this piece the first time. And re- reading it now serves as a lovely and gentle reminder to stay in the moment with what's happening in your life.
Good piece that hits home, thank you
I very much needed to read something like this today. Thank you for writing such a very honest piece.
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