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Alison: 5 New School-Year Resolutions for Writing Parents

Although it varies by a week or two across the Northern Hemisphere, for many parents, children round about now are returning to school and the more rigid routines of school days, homework, and earlier bedtimes come into play. As parents we need to be more organised and lovingly firm with our kids as we ease them through the change.

Whether you are a going-out-to-work writing parent or a stay-at-home one or a bit of both, it’s a good time to think about your own schedule, your priorities in terms of projects that you have to complete, client commitments, and projects that capture your heart and that you want to spend time on.

An important question to ask is ‘what is actually possible?’ We can take steps to create writing time by getting up early or staying up late, by being good at using small pockets of time between chores or on commute, but believe it or not, writing isn’t everything. Our resolutions need to take account of the current demands of our lives timewise, physically, emotionally, mentally. At different phases these demands will fluctuate. All-out commitment to the cause of writing without consideration of your current situation cannot be a good thing. As children settle into school they may require more of our empathy and listening time, will benefit and feel less anxious by us just being around, taking a walk with them, creating space for communication. Later on in the year these demands may change.

But if we get a chance to write, we want it to be as fruitful as possible. I often struggle to feel satisfied with my achievements because I have several tasks and projects on the go and have not identified which need to come higher on the list. At the end of the session, which is never very long, I have achieved not much of anything as I flit from document to document, to my email, to Google etc. A simple thing, but sometimes I’m not really clear what I’m working on. Just writing that down and having a schedule will make a lot of difference.

Sometimes I come to write and just can’t get into it, I have no spark. This is often after a period where I have not had any down time, general pleasant relaxation, a walk, or sit down with a book or even an evening in front of the TV. It is possible to make writing a stick that doesn’t bear fruit because you are beating yourself with it. (Ah the mixed metaphor, my favourite beast!)

So what resolutions might be good ones for the new school and writing year?

Five resolutions for the new school and writing year

1: Write less but more fruitfully and watch more telly.

2: Pick a project, set a deadline or a mini deadline, and work to it.

3: Think each day about your current demands/desires emotionally, mentally, physiologically, socially, for family etc. and decide what is most important, what is possible, and what is necessary.

4: Take pride and joy in what you achieve even if it is less than what you had hoped — write down what you have done; it’s easy to forget.

5: Think about, interact with, and support others, friends, extended family members, and other writers; create a strong and positive network.

Goodwill and good effort for the most part come back. Writing and life energy can be created by taking care of our time, ourselves, each other.

[Cross posted from my personal blog.]

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. excellent, yes, committing to writing above all else, i’ve found, generally puts me in a position where i need ot be committed – in an entirely different venue.

    here’s what i love about this post: watch more telly!!!!

    because, honestly, if i am doing nothing but all the rigids of getting everyone else moving, etc and ‘forcing’ myself to write according to a set schedule, that is the last thing that will happen fruitfully.

    tv = the closest thing to meditation i can usually manage along about 9 or 10 pm, when my mayhem finally slows down its whirring.

    project runway, true blood or whatever, here i come. thank you for winding me down.

    September 7, 2010
  2. That piece called “community” is so important to me as a writer. I find when that time is minimized where I am unable to connect with other writers, the writing COMES TO A HALT.

    September 8, 2010
  3. alisonwells #

    Thanks Cath and Robin. I’ve read so much advice lately instructing us to ‘commit to our craft’, to ‘write every day’ to be better, more productive, more visible etc etc etc. While it is important to have a writing focus it can just take over and become anxiety inducing if your outside demands are many. Writing and other activities such as crafts etc can be immensely fulfilling but, depending on how serious they are, they may not afford the mental space and sense of play, complete relaxation that we need mentally and physcially to rejuvinate and reintegrate ourselves in trying times. I’m glad you both chose particular ideas that resonated. I’m still working on the telly goal, I haven’t sat down for weeks!

    September 8, 2010

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