Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taking a Break from Writing . . . Bad Idea?

Some of my writer friends write for four to six hours a day.  I sometimes envy that because I'm not at a place in my life where I can.  I'm pretty much in the 'whatever bit of time I can get on the computer' is my writing time.  I have eight kids and two of them are under four.  They keep me busy and being a mom is my first priority.

You see, with my older five children, I've learned that time with my kids really does go by way too fast and before I know it, they're moving out and are on their own.  I even miss the times when they were small and they laid there listening to my made up bedtime stories in the dark.  We have some wonderful family memories for them to take with them when they fly the nest.  Well, mostly.

This week is going to be one of those times.  It is the last week before school starts, before one of my children moves away to college, and I want to make some memories with the family in this last week of togetherness.  I know I have writing deadlines.  I know I need to do editing.  But this has to come first.

A friend of mine who writes every day and puts out two books a year said that I should take a day for the family and then concentrate on my writing.  "You can pack a lot into a day," she said.  (she knows I have a lot to do and is great at encouraging me.) But, this time, I just can't do it. I'm selfish.  I want the week.  My writing will always be there and yes, I may be shooting my writing career in the foot and putting myself further behind on some things  (I don't think that's fatal) but my kids will not always be here.  And someday, when we're all sitting around the table, and their kids are running around my house, I want them to be able to say, "Hey, mom, remember when we took a car trip and had to listen to a Roger Miller album the whole way because that was the only thing that would soothe the baby?  I still can sing every word of that whole album."  Or "Remember when we all sang Barney tunes until my oldest son couldn't take it anymore, then we caught him whistling the same tune while we were in the museum and laughed until our sides hurt?"  Yeah, that's my dream.  For them to remember all the silly stuff we did and how much fun we had in between the arguments.

Writermom.  That's the name of the blog, but sometimes I think it should be Momwriter.  Such a delicate line.

What do you think?  How do you balance family needs with your writing?  Do you think breaks are needed or valuable?


Charlie Moore said...

Julie, I applaud your putting family first. Even if you weren't LDS, family should be a priority. It is nice to have someone tell you you've written a wonderful story, but to have your child tell you they've enjoyed spending time with you is much more meaningful. No one warms one's heart like a smiling child.

So keep writing your stories, Julie, but always keep those children and your husband as first priorities.

Debra Erfert said...

You can't see me, but I'm standing up and applauding you, too. I cringe when I read where other moms have the dad take the kids someplace just so they can have more time to write. I think to myself-don't they know what they're missing? That they're never get those precious childhood moments back?

When our sons were younger, 9 and 12, we took them and their grandmother on a road trip across country to their father's home state of Wisconsin. We did this twice, actually. Two years later, too. We stopped at all the silly tourist spots, including Civil War battlegrounds. We built memories as well as their character along the way. I would never, ever trade that time for a few extra hours of writing. I knew in my heart that raising my sons were my first priority, my art was my hobby.

Your gift of writing will still be with you even if you took a good long break, Julie. And sometimes you need to tip that balance toward your family.

Sonia said...

I applaud you as well. And I agree with what you said, and with the previous two comments above. Family is most important and they should come first. What a great choice. What a great lady. Oh and I think Momwriter is great, too. :)

Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Absolutely take your break and enjoy every second of it guilt free. I schedule breaks throughout the year for this exact reason. I plan my year around times that I know I am not available to write and then utilize other times to make up for my "vacations." I'm taking off severa days this week to spend time with my daughter before she leaves for college. Time is precious and we don't want to waste it on memories we can't get back.

Angie said...

You're absolutely right! Writing will always be there. I hope you enjoy the time with them!

Jon Spell said...

I have the opposite problem: I need a break from real life to do some writing! Sure, kids, wife, job; are all "important", but when do I get ME time? Why, just the other day, I ... hmm, where did all of these angry dark clouds come from?

Anonymous said...

You're doing the right thing, Julie. I'm in a similar boat--not as many kids, but they're both still little. A few Saturdays ago my husband was downstairs entertaining them while I did some writing upstairs. But when I realized I was missing a dance party with Russian techno music and foam swords, I decided to put the writing aside for a few hours. My characters will wait for me, my children won't.