No, I’m not delusional from sleep deprivation. Yes, it can be done. I know because I did it. And, let’s be realistic, you won’t be writing the next New York Times bestseller during baby’s first month home when you’re feeding every 2 hours and staying up at night more than you did in college. But you will, both mommy and baby, eventually fall into a routine and in that routine there is plenty of time to write. If people can write books during one month in NaNoWriMo, then surely you can swing it over a year.
Writing a book on maternity leave is a perfect time to explore all those thoughts and feelings awoken by your stronger sense of intuition, and that primal drive for your survival during childbirth and wanting the best for this new tiny human being. The intuition connects you to your most creative side, the part of you that doesn’t need to think, that part of you that just knows. Your awakened primal drive connects you to stronger and more visceral emotions. I have always said that the number one purpose of storytelling is to elicit emotion, what better time to capture those emotions than when we’re more emotional.
Here are some tips that will help you with your book writing goals:
Well Laid Plans
Remember the last time you had to drive in a new neighborhood or new city and how nerve-racking that can be? Remember how much easier it was the time that a friend gave you excellent directions with landmarks to watch out for? Your writing will be much easier if you give yourself an outline and signposts and landmarks along the way. However, before you embark on any road trip and before you set your trusty GPS, you need to decide on the destination. Decide exactly what it is you want to write. Will it be fact based like a self-help or inspirational book, or will it be fiction like a romance novel or a who-done-it mystery? What lessons do you want to impart in your non-fiction book, and what emotions do you want to evoke in your novel?
Routine and Rhythm
Babies love routine. I had the hardest time with this because routine has been something I rebelled against most of my adult life. But, after four children, I eventually learned to embrace it in certain areas of my life, including my writing. I have learned to call a rose by a different name just to trick my brain. Thanks to the amazing book The Baby Whisperer I had watched my babies for their rhythm and adopted the book’s E.A.S.Y routine. Baby Eats, baby is Active, baby Sleeps, Your time. Once my little ones got into their rhythm, I was able to find mine. I tended to do all of the household stuff in the morning during the first nap and write in the afternoon during the second nap (which luckily was the last nap my kids gave up). Not so oddly, I still write more in the afternoons today long after all my kids have been in school full days. Other author friends of mine preferred getting up at 5 AM and writing for an uninterrupted hour when the house is still quiet, while others preferred skipping an hour of television after the kids went to bed and writing in the evening. Look for your optimal writing time and make it a routine.
We all have well-meaning people in our lives who inadvertently like to stifle our dreams. They don’t want us biting off more than we can chew, they don’t want us to be disappointed if our ship doesn’t come in, they dismiss our dream of one day being a published author as a “cute idea”. Those people are not your writing support system. It can be challenging when those people happen to be your real-life support sytem like your spouse or you mom or your best friend. I can assure you that you can indeed write a book without having to discuss the content or the process with the naysayers in your life. And you can find a support system outside of your usual circle of friends and family. Look for a writing group online, join a local writer’s association, drop in on a writing Meet Up group, or start your own Writing Momma’s Meet Up in your town or city. Writing can be an isolating endeavour so having a positive circle of likeminded people holding you accountable is a huge step towards completing your book.
If you’ve always wanted to write a book one day, take advantage of the halt in your usual work routine and those pockets of quiet time during your maternity leave to pursue your passion of reading and writing. Follow in JK Rowling's footsteps, she wrote Harry Potter sitting in a coffee shop with her baby napping next to her in the pram, and look at her now! Tell me, what will you write on your maternity leave?