Babies and young children have short attention spans, but the title of this post doesn’t refer to my kids’ attention spans; it refers to mine. I once read a quote about a mother’s attention span is only as long as that of her youngest child (I tried looking it up to cite it but couldn’t find it and, honestly, didn’t look that long 😉 ). My youngest is 7 months old, so that tells you about how long I can concentrate on any one thing. The shiny hot mess that is social media doesn’t help either!
Hence why I’ve been focusing a lot of my writing time on picture books. Not easier to write than novels, but easier to feel like I’m actually making some progress on it in the shorter work sessions that fit into my current life. I’ve also been reading a ton of picture books with the kids, so I’m naturally inspired by that form.
Yet that old perpetual WIP (work-in-progress) Elixir Saved is weighing on me. I’m at the point where not working on it is always in the back of my mind. It’s different than when I’ve consciously taken a break from it because I needed to. This time I kind of feel like I’m just avoiding it. I’m in the meaty middle of the draft. I know where the story needs to go and I have a solid idea of how to get it there, but it’s gonna take a lot of work. So, yeah, I should probably make it a priority to work on it, instead of finding new things to work on.
Not that I’m going to stop working on my picture books. I just think I need a better balance. Isn’t is that what it always comes down to in pretty much everything in life: finding the right balance.
One last thing. I’m also in the market for a picture book critique partner. I’ve got plenty of writing buddies to exchange novels with, but not so much when it comes to picture books. I’d like someone with a little bit of experience in the area, but you you certainly don’t have to be an expert. Send me a message if you’re interested in seeing if we’re a good match!
I often get asked the question of how I find the time to write. The short answer to this–and every single writer you know will also have this answer–is that I make the time to write. It’s important to me; it’s part of who I am and how I navigate the world. So no matter how busy I am, I make sure there is time for writing.
I’m lucky to have help from relatives a couple days of weeks with the kiddos. I have a husband who financially supports me, so I don’t have to work for money. Do I have as much time as I’d like to write? Nope. Do I find myself distracted when I do have writing time? You betcha (I’m looking at you, social media!). Is it hard to write when the country feels like a pile of garbage? It sure is. Do I sometimes have to put the writing aside to deal with the business of being a writer? Of course (there’s submitting to do, marketing to plan, chasing people down to get paid, and lots of other stuff that’s not actually writing). Do I write every day? Nope, not even close.
But I do it. With help. I recognize the privilege I have. I think it’s important to point out my privilege because it’s not something writers always talk about. It’s easier to be a writer when you have support. That’s not to say I don’t have my own struggles. I have trouble balancing writing time and taking care of the kids (which is my primary responsibility in life right now). I worry about money, my retirement, and how to pay for the kids to go to college. Now that the boys are growing, I worry about having to go out and get a job just to feed those growing little bodies. Yet, I still make the time to write.
Here’s the thing, I know writers who work full time, have kids, and don’t have the kind of help I have. They make time to write. They do it because it’s important to them. They find a way to create, even when it’s hard, even when it’s done in the wee hours of the night when it feels like everyone else is asleep. They do it even though they’re bone tired. They do it because it’s important to them.
I find the time to write because it’s important to me. So when people ask me about how I find the time to write. I usually say something like, “Oh, I have help with the kids a couple of days a week.” Though the real answer feels far more complicated than that. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it all comes back to the short answer. I find the time to write because I make the time to write. I’m a writer. I don’t know how not to be one…so I write (but not every day!).
I’ve so not been in the mood to blog lately. I have lots of things I could write about (both on the blog and in my own writing) but nothing that’s really sparking for me. So I’d rather spend my limited words on my actual writing than here.
So I’m just popping in to say that the one aspect of writing that I’m excited about is picture books. I think the short form is fitting with my attention span right now. Plus, I’ve been reading so many picture books with the boys, it’s hard not to get inspired in that area.
Writing picture books is a fun break from novel writing, which has felt like so much work lately. I’m slogging trough the long sentences and paragraphs in the novels. But my picture book is coming to me in fun little spurts. The scenes are snapshots that I have to interpret into words. Then I have to piece those snapshots together for a whole…but a short whole!
Not to say that shorter = easier. That is certainly not the case. But picture books are different than novels, and a change must be what I need. It’s almost like I’m cheating on the longer form with the shorter stuff. For me, there is less baggage when it comes to picture books. I feel a lot of pressure to get things right with this novel I’m working on, but there’s none of that with my picture books.
So I’m going with it…riding this burst of picture book creativity for now.