Writing is like parenting

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Photo credit: Pixabay (Mother and child pointing at map)

As I lay on the carpet beside my baby’s cot at two a.m, my wrist aching from the repetitive pat pat, pat pat and my jaw locked into the pout of a persistent shhhhhh sound, I thought to myself how lonely this parenting gig can sometimes be.

In truth, I thought to myself, ‘I must be the only person in the whole universe who spends at least a portion of every single night patting, shooshing or feeding my baby back to sleep, only to be woken up three or so hours later to do it all again.’

My logical brain knows this is absolutely not true. Every parent the world over can sympathise, empathise and bring up stories of their own seemingly endless sleepless nights. But still, our ego has this funny way of catastrophising things we cannot control. When I am dog-tired and ready to tear my hair out, but too stubborn to ask my husband to take over, I tend to throw a little pity party in my own honour and think of all the ways my life is not great.

I do this with my writing, too. I can’t tell you the number of times I have thought to myself, I must be the only person in the whole world who…

  • Can’t find any time in the day to write
  • Has no energy at the end of the day to write
  • Is flushed with ideas but can’t seem to get started
  • Gets stuck in the middle and wants to give up
  • Fantasises about being published instead of just doing the damn work
  • Reads books about writing as a way to distract myself from the activity of actually writing
  • Thinks I’m actually really rubbish at this writing thing and will never be published
  • I could go on… The excuses are endless.

Again, my logical brain knows this is not true. I’ve read enough blogs, spoken to enough writers, and heard enough podcast interviews to know that every single writer and author can relate to at least one of these things I tell myself on a daily basis (probably more).

Yes, writing is a solitary activity for the most part, and this can mean it’s a lonely endeavour too. But not if you don’t let it be.

There is a wonderful community of writers in every corner of the globe, just waiting for more peers to join them. It’s not about if they exist, but rather, where they exist.

I have built a wonderful community of writer friends through Twitter and in real life. I’ve been along to events and conferences and met people who are or have been at every single stage of the same writing spectrum as me.

Much like my mother’s group is the place I post about my sleep deprivation and frustrations with toddler tantrums and nappy explosions, Twitter is my place to share the highs and lows of the writing life. It is a place I can go and know that I will be listened to, supported and offered advice and friendship. For all of its downfalls, social media can also be a place of great respect, love, support and admiration.

It’s all about finding your people and filtering out the stuff that isn’t for you.

So yes, much like how parenting can feel relentless, lonely and never ending (it’s not), writing can also feel this way. It’s up to us to find our people, to share in our joys and our sorrows. To motivate one another, to vent when we need to, and then to push on.

Nothing in life happens if we don’t make it happen.