That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Writing with your sneakers on

I’m sitting in the overhanging atrium of the public library cafe, surrounded by glass louver windows. I’ve just been handed a coffee by the sour barista, and I chuckle that she has included a sweet flower-shaped cookie.

Outside in the dirt car park of the shire offices I can see two fire trucks and three firemen rolling out hoses to test the local fire plugs; or perhaps to fill up their tanks from the water main. If the boys were here, they would be jumping out of their skin, me commentating on the action like a race caller, as we did at 6am when the rubbish truck passed by our back gate. Now there are four firemen, another having emerged from the twin cab truck. But the boys aren’t here. Funny how much children shape a parent’s frame of reference, even when they are absent. I sit at a table for four, even though there is only one of me.

It is becoming increasingly hard to find time to write. It seems the choice for my “free-time” (for free time always comes at a cost) is health vs. writing; last week I found myself at the gym three times, and wrote nothing other than what I was paid to write. This week, I’ve written around 3,000 words so far. Gym trips or walks: 0. I don’t know how to settle this score. I’m slightly overweight, neck and back pain slow me down, and yet the gravitational pull of my desk is far stronger than that of the treadmill. A treadmill with a keyboard would perhaps be the ideal solution.

I’ve began work on a major project, which is still just a baby but will hopefully yield a workable first draft. It comes at a time when I’m also taking on more paid writing work, and the demands at home are unabated. A writing routine alludes me, despite Mr Karen now working part-time. He still takes first bite at our days, and I wipe up the crumbs; this is the nature of his work, which involves juggling his job, running a building business from home, plus his responsibilities at home. That said, I was at the library at 9am this morning, so I won’t complain. Writing is flexible, and pays less, two factors which ultimately determine how we divide our days.

Mr Karen has this morning dropped Hamish at kinder and Louis at school, and when I left home he was just arriving in the back gate with Ruben. Ruben, in the blue pram with the beige sun hat, gripping his stuffed rabbit in one hand and in the other clutching a zip lock bag full of dry cereal. There was promise of a play in the garden with daddy. It sounds almost perfect.

May good work spring from what Joanna Murray-Smith calls this “voluptuous, ramshackle life” of motherhood. I can only believe that it will.

Do you have a writing routine? Do you think routine is important to creating a volume of work, or do you think routine is the antithesis of creativity?

21 Responses to “Writing with your sneakers on”

  1. sarahtsib

    Karen – I’ve been a crying mess this morning trying to work out this exact dilemma. I had visions of writing and writing and writing and being a fabulous, present mama and being fit and healthy when I stepped away from the beige government world. I find that the more I chase my dreams the more I cant fit it all in. My blog is like a barren waste land as i battle to refine (for the third time) my three chapters of my thesis and my ass is so flat at the end of some days from sitting in the same spot 13 seconds after depositing the children at day care and school only to stand up to race back and get them. It’s bloody exhausting but the best part – I finally have a job where my Birkenstocks are my uniform x

    Reply
    • Rhythm & method

      Bloody exhausting is the word. I think sometimes we are our own worst enemies. But it is easier to find the motivation when you are driven entirely by passion and determination. I feel compelled to continue writing, and I’m sure you feel the same. Some stories won’t leave you alone. Take care, I’m crying along with you x

      Reply
  2. Hannah

    When I have something I need to say time makes itself.
    Sometimes I wonder about all the half baked thoughts I didn’t write down; would I have a novel by now?

    Reply
  3. Carli

    My husband’s job can be quite demanding so I’m often too exhausted to write by the time he gets home. I don’t have a routine. I do most of my writing when an assignment is imminent and I’m under pressure. As for the whole exercise issue – I went and signed up for a 14km run to force my hand and my husband has promised to be home early one night a week and that has helped a little.

    Reply
  4. Deb @ Bright and Precious

    I know that health vs. writing thing all too well. The constant juggling to find time. I steal time from everywhere in my ‘voluptuous ramshackle life’ of motherhood. So the answer is no. No routine here. Maybe when the kids are older. Maybe when the insanity dies down. I yearn for it. Lovely to hear your words, Karen. x

    Reply
  5. loulouloves

    I vote for routine. Especially with kids around, if you don’t have the routine you will just never find the time. “I start work at 10 in the morning & the muses have learnt to be on time” – Tchaikovsky

    Reply
  6. gabrielablandy

    I go for long walks with a dictaphone – that way I can work the brain and the bum. Of course, I have to type it out at some point, but this is easier than coming up with ideas in the first place – and quicker too. It’s also a great way for getting through block, because let’s face it, even when we can’t write, we can always talk…

    Reply
  7. jennifersmart

    I recently saw a Jeanette Winterson interview & she said the one thing she wanted her creative writing students to learn was the importance of showing up everyday. It can be hard, really hard & definitely feels contrary to creativity, but routine is vital.
    By the way, this is a case of do as I say, not as I do!
    Jx

    Reply
  8. Catherine

    Such a good question, this! I think I’m supposed to believe that a routine is necessary and in many parts of my life and I am better for one but I cannot seem to do it with my writing. Not the pure creative stuff. Unless you count a deadline as a routine. Then it will get done.

    Reply
  9. Caz Stone

    Writing time always feel like it’s stolen from someone or something else – work, home, family, fitness, sleep, M.A. I carry notebooks and try to capture thoughts to develop when I can. Not often enough.
    I have a Ruben, spelt right, too.

    Reply
  10. dtll

    I am totally timetabled.. it is boring but it works and at the end of the day when I have ticked the exercise and work box I smile with glee x

    Reply
  11. Lauren Macer

    Stop right there Karen! Slightly overweight? Not even a little bit! You look absolutely fabulous and slim, seriously.
    ps. were any of those fireman hot?

    Reply
  12. TNW

    Once everyone’s gone to sleep is when I like to sit and think. The quiet helps me write.

    Reply

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