I call this “Day 1” of my Project Dawn, but, really, this is at least my fourth try at this experiment.
What is Project Dawn? A desperate attempt to find the quiet time in my day to get some writing in – whether it is here on the blog, or devoting time to my fiction projects. You see, for the last 22 months, I have been struggling to find the quiet I once took for granted. Motherhood, in all its wonder, has its own special hum that permeates every waking hour of my day in ways I never once knew possible.
So I went to an expert, my best friend Dawn – mom for over a decade – and asked her how the hell she gets everything done. Dawn is one of those miracle moms, who not only manages to keep her household afloat, with a husband who has many business trips throughout the year. two school-aged kids, and two extra-large dogs and a cat, but she also manages to do charitable work, cook exciting dinners, and – god help us all – she feeds her creative muse through exciting (and gorgeous!) DIY projects. And – oh yeah – she’s an avid golfer, who has garnered a respectable reputation on Twitter as a reputable voice in the golfing world. I figure, if she can do all that, I should be able to find a tiny bit of writing time for myself each day with my teacher husband who’s home by four daily, my ancient half-blind ShihTzu, and my one child who isn’t even two yet.
That was until Dawn gave me her secret, “Nicole, you have to wake up earlier.” She sounded just like my mother (which makes sense because my mom always loved Dawn, particularly because she was such a “good influence”). She half laughed at the suggestion, because she knew it was the last thing I wanted to hear, but she kept on, “There is no way to do everything while they are awake.” They being the family.
I knew she was right. Nothing is quite like conquering your to-do list while the house sleeps. There was only one problem with Dawn’s suggestion – it pertained to the wrong end of my day. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON (see embedded picture of the calendar I purchased for myself this year).
My greatest issue with being a writer-mommy has been that I have been unable to do what I do best: create into the wee hours of the morn! I am a night owl. In my 12 years of teaching, I’d work through the night, crashing at around 2, 3, or even 4 in the morning before catching a couple of hours of sleep and then heading to work ready to conquer the world.
But teaching was wildly different than motherhood. For one, I got breaks during the day. Secondly, I was a lot younger and healthier then too. My body is not interested in functioning on little sleep. This is, in fact, one reason I have been so uninterested in Dawn’s proposal. I mean who in their right mind would set an alarm to wake on a day they didn’t have to?!
Today’s answer? Me. Because, at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, I do have to. Not writing consistently for nearly two years now is grating on my soul. And, after actually making it to a #StoryDam chat last night on twitter, it appears more than a couple of writers find it to be the best way to approach our passion.
— Deb Atwood (@deb_atwood) March 11, 2016
— Cate Dashwood (@catedashwood) March 11, 2016
And then this one really caught my eye:
— Tui Snider (@TuiSnider) March 11, 2016
Because it didn’t only underscore Dawn’s sentiments, it expressed my deepest desires: to stop treating my writing like the ugly stepchild of my life, to give it my full energy and attention. I know, on the days I do that, it infuses everything else I do with joy no matter how tired I am.
So here I am – an hour and half into my early wake up on Project Dawn Day 1. I didn’t wake at dawn, as I originally tried and failed to do. I woke with my husband, made him coffee, said good-bye and sat down to write, while the baby and the dog slept. Sure, I’m clinging tightly to the cup o’ joe I made for myself, and there are an infinite number of chores I could have done in this time, but no. I am so happy right now. This was the right thing to do. Thanks, Dawn – though I won’t wake with the sunrise, my project keeps it’s name in honor of you. Lord knows my mom would be proud today.
In the comments below:
Fellow writers, when do you find/make your writing time?
Fellow mommies, when do you find your quiet time?
To the morning people reading: any advice for surviving this new way of life?