If you’ve ever had a baby or been near someone who had a baby then you’ve probably heard the phrase sleep when baby sleeps. Sounds simple. Almost sounds luxurious when you think of how much a baby sleeps.
Which is all well and good, except there comes a point when you want to do something human and prove to yourself (and your cats) that you’re more than just a baby feeder/diaperer/sleeping apparatus. So I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I have a novel to write, that doesn’t want to wait for me or baby, and I can finally write again, so why not? I should have plenty of time.
See, the thing about newborns is that they’re deceptive little creatures with powers over time. One moment you’re feeding baby and it’s 7am. The next you’re still trying to get baby to sleep an it’s 9am. Where did those two hours go? You have no clue. Then it’s 9.30am and baby’s asleep and you think, finally – I can write!
Except: you really need to pee, you haven’t eaten in six hours, you’re dehydrated, the cats are dying from hunger, and omg is that smell you?
If you’re lucky, you have a snack at hand, a water bottle, and someone else to feed the cats. The shower can wait. You can get some writing in!
If you’re unlucky, you scramble to meet your basic requirements of survival and then it’s 10.30am and, oh shit, baby’s eyes just flew open.
Occasionally, you get a longer stretch. And then it comes down to a different choice because, remember, you’ve been repeating this same 2-3 hour cycle for weeks now and you. are. beyond. exhausted.
Sleep when baby sleeps? Or… write when baby sleeps?
It’s a fine balancing act. Too much sleep and you start to think you’re a normal human being again. And, well, you don’t get any writing done. Too much writing and you don’t get enough sleep, but the hallucinations from sleep deprivation fuel your creativity and plot. They also fuel your loved one’s reasons for an intervention.
So each time the baby sleeps, I have to choose. Sometimes it’s an easy choice, sometimes it’s not. But no matter which I choose, I’ve had to lower my expectations. Just like I will probably not get more than five hours of accumulated sleep each day, I will probably not reach 50k this month. But that’s okay – 5 hours is better than 4, 3, 2, or 1 and whatever amount of words I write will be better than nothing.
Has anyone else tried to write with a newborn? Succeeded? Failed? I’d love to hear your tips!
2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo with a Baby”
…omg, it’s me, a year ago. Seriously, I connect so deeply to this post, it’s hilarious. My baby was born early October 2015. Before she was born, I had this blithe idea that it would be fine, I’d just write while she was sleeping, newborns do a lot of that, right? (I shared that delusion with my mothers’ group and we all had a good laugh.)
Now, a year on, I can say it gets… different. Not better or worse, but each new solution presents a new problem, and every time I think I have a system sorted out, baby grows and changes. (e.g. She gets mobile and self-entertaining – yes! I can write while she’s playing! – but now she grabs EVERYTHING and needs a closer eye kept on her. So maybe not.) Recently, I’ve been getting some good mileage out of keeping my notebook on me at all times, and scribbling structural notes and/or snippets of prose when I can, which gives me a headstart when nap starts and I can sit down at the computer (snack and water bottle in hand… :D). Except often the baby wants to know what Mummy’s doing with that notebook and pen and can she play with it? Why not? It looks fun!
Anyway, I just wanted to give you a virtual fistbump of solidarity, because this shit is bananas, and all you can do is hang in there and do what you can.
btw, I’m another of Kurestin’s authors. I saw the announcement of your book deal on her twitter yesterday, and SUPER HEAPS CONGRATULATIONS. Also the books sound AMAZING I cannot wait to read them. 😀
Hi!! Also good to meet another of Kurestin’s authors. We really need to form a club. And thanks for the grats.
And thanks for the update from the future! I’m finally to the point where I don’t have to decide whether I’m going to sleep or write anymore, and that’s made everything a lot better. But it will always be a struggle to hit word count, I’m sure. Worth it, though!