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.

The Writer’s Room: Jodi Gibson

Today in The Writer’s Room, I’m welcoming Jodi Gibson. Jodi and I met – and sat next to each other – during our 5 day Fiona McIntosh Masterclass. Jodi is a prolific writer, having multiple manuscripts under her belt. She also has a wonderful blog, full of writing insight, book reviews and fantastic author interviews. You can find Jodi on her websiteTwitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Jodi Gibson writes contemporary women’s fiction and is currently working on her first novel. She also blogs about all things writing and books. In her spare time, you’ll find Jodi with her nose in a good book, baking in the kitchen or dreaming of her next travelling adventure. Jodi lives in country Victoria, Australia with her husband, daughters, dogs, cat, horse and chickens.

1. Firstly, can you give us a bit of a run down of your writing approach? (when, where, how much, etc)
I try and write five days a week, Monday to Friday. I don’t have a set time that I write, but I will write for at least 1-2 hours, or to whatever my set word count is. At the moment, I’m editing and rewriting, so I’ll either do as much as I can within the 1-2 hours, or aim for 1-2 chapters.

2. What genre do you write in and can you share a bit about what you’ve written to date?
I write commercial contemporary women’s fiction. I have three manuscripts in progress at the moment. One which is nearing completion, one in fourth draft form, and one in first draft. The one almost ready for submission to publishers, follows a young woman who returns to her home town after her mother dies. Whilst there she is forced to confront the situation she ran from seven years earlier. But will the lies and secrets of those she once called friends be too much to bare?
The other two manuscripts are a lighter reads, but still very much character based. I enjoy writing characters who find themselves at a cross roads in their life.

3. Where do you draw inspiration for your writing?
Everywhere! News, articles, books, blogs, podcasts. I tend to write about real life experiences that we can all somehow relate to. My writing is very much focused on the character’s emotions and journey. A writer must be attuned to everything around them, a story ideas are everywhere.

4. What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?
When I write, it feels like the most natural thing for me. And although it can be tough going at times, it ultimately brings me joy. I love the feeling of exploring a story line and smashing out a first draft that I have no idea where will end up. And I’ve also learned to, I won’t say love, but enjoy, the editing process. There is something very satisfying about knowing each time you edit your work, you are improving it.

5. And what do you find most challenging?
Pulling the whole story together in a cohesive manner! Getting the character arc right, ensuring the story flows, getting the pace right – all that fun stuff.

6. What sort of training / study have you undertaken as part of your writing journey, and have you found it useful?
I’ve completed quite a few writing courses with the Australian Writers’ Centre including their 6-month novel program. This year I also completed a five day intense masterclass with prolific Australian author, Fiona McIntosh which was one of the best things I’ve done. Although I don’t think you can or should ever stop learning, I also think there comes a time when you just need to write. And I also don’t believe that you need to undertake a professional or tertiary education to be a writer. Sometimes you can take on too much information and become overwhelmed

7. Why did you start writing?
I guess in one way or another, it’s something I’ve always done. I remember writing stories when I was younger, and then I was obsessive about keeping a journal through my teens and early twenties. But a career in writing wasn’t something I ever considered until I reached my mid-thirties when one day I sat down and began writing a story that had been in my head for years. Although that story is sitting in the metaphorical bottom draw and may never see the light of day, it was the catalyst for me to realise how much I loved writing and how I wanted to see where the journey could take me.

8. Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?
Don’t let fear or imposter syndrome stop you from writing. If you have a desire to write – do it! Writing isn’t something that comes out perfect the first time. One of my favourite quotes is from Ernest Hemmingway when he said, ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’ Which is so true. Like everything, writing takes commitment, dedication and practice. The more you do it, the better you will do it. So just write, and see what happens.

My new home office space

We’ve been in our house for nearly three years, and until just this week, our home office/study was really just a junk room with a book case and a desk.

As you can imagine, clutter and junk doesn’t exactly lend itself to motivation or clear thinking.

For a long time we’ve been talking about getting it set up properly. When we were in the planning stages of building the house we went to a well known cabinet maker and requested a quote for a built in desk with surrounding book case and shelves. We were quite willing to spend a lot of money to get it done, but I suspect the woman who sketched up our plans thought we were just wasting her time. They never came through with the quote and once the building process started, it became the least of our worries.

Now that I’ve returned to work part time from maternity leave, with some days working from home, it seemed an opportune time to get the office set up. We took a trip to Bunnings and picked out a 2.2 metre timber bench top. It’s big enough to seat two quite comfortably, with space to spread out. I also nabbed two trestle legs from Ikea, (on sale for $9.99 each) and we bought the chairs from Kmart.

Put it all together and we’ve created an affordable, modern and clean space with light, natural finishes. A place that I actually enjoy being in and can see myself getting a lot of writing done.

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I particularly love the raw timber and monochrome look, so am thrilled with how it turned out.