When Writing Is Unhealthy

Since Sam’s birth fifteen weeks ago, a constant dilemma has been finding time to write. Last week I found an unprecedented ten hours, postpartum, to work on my memoir. Yippee! I felt fulfilled and accomplished; I was finally balancing writing and motherhood. Finally, I thought, this memoir is again making progress toward publication. But then…I realized there is a price to this progress.

"Tired Mom" at http://scienceinspiration.blogspot.com/2012/12/we-get-tired.html
“Tired Mom” at http://scienceinspiration.blogspot.com/2012/12/we-get-tired.html

How did I get so much writing done? I let Sam nap for almost three hours in a row on several days (good boy!). You can imagine how excited I was—Sam was getting rest, I was getting writing—until I realized that those long-nap days resulted in broken nights of sleep for Sam—and me. Sigh.

On other days when Sam is out of routine (his mom’s routine)—say, when he spends the day with his aunt, or on weekends—he takes shorter naps and sleeps a good nine to eleven hours at night, usually from 7 p.m. to 5 or 6 a.m. Yay again! But boo for my writing.

So, my current dilemma is whether to write or to sleep—in other words, do I let baby Sam take a nice long nap in the afternoon and use the time to write, or do I keep him awake during the day so we’ll both sleep through the night?

What a dilemma, huh? I feel bad for mentioning it, because I have a great baby, and I could have both writing and sleep if I wanted them badly enough. I could write from 7 p.m. until my bedtime, between 9 or 10—but that would also mean resorting to microwave dinners or takeout and giving up the fight with my leftover pregnancy weight.

That’s the tough thing about parenting, and really adulthood. You must make tough choices with your time.

As I sat writing this post yesterday (stealing a few minutes from my shopping trip for temporary “fat” pants—dear mother-in-law watched Sam), I decided writing is usually not going to come first—at least not anytime soon, and here’s why: In order to write as much as I want, I’d have to neglect my family’s and my own health. Much as writing feels like a necessity to my mental health, some things just have to come first, like sleep, nutrition, and exercise—my physical health. So I guess I’m choosing sleep.

Being an adult is tough. Lord, help me to put first things first, and also find some moments to write when time away from it becomes too painful. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for a baby boy who sleeps through the night!

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13 thoughts on “When Writing Is Unhealthy

  1. ccyager May 5, 2014 / 9:09 am

    I hear you! If you substitute “day job” for “baby” you’ll get much the same dilemma. Both demand and require our attention, need our attention, in order for us to live. My only suggestion is to carry a notebook everywhere, and write in it when you can. I did this when I was working fulltime. It helped me get through the days I had to be working in an office until I could actually sit at my desk for a few hours.

    You need to take care of yourself as well as your baby in order to insure that you’ll be healthy for your family and your writing. Eventually, you will be able to carve more time out of each day for your writing. ENJOY your baby now! He won’t be this way forever…… Cinda

    • lindseygendke May 11, 2014 / 10:54 am

      Great advice, Cinda! Sadly, writing can be hard to fit in, no matter what your lot in life! But if we love it enough, we figure out ways to do it. On that note, I fit in about 13 hours of writing last week–woo hoo! And I am into chapter 2 of your book and very intrigued! It brings me back to my more musical days of being in band and playing piano. You evoke the power of music well in that opening scene: bravo! Can’t wait to read more!

      • ccyager May 12, 2014 / 8:17 am

        Thanks for reading my book! Early comments echo yours about the music. I’m pleased. It heps to get me going on the marketing work, but I’m still antsy to get back to the next book in the series. Cinda

  2. taylorhurstwriter56 May 5, 2014 / 1:41 pm

    I’m sure it is difficult to be a mother and a writer. Thats why Im so impressed with Jk Rowling for writing the first Harry Potter after giving birth. Even if you can only write a few minutes a day while your baby sleeps or why he’s playing or doing anything other than being taken care of, its still something. Dont try to focus so much on HOURS of writing, just carry a pen and notebook with you at all times and write when you have a spare minute 🙂 Good luck to you and congrats on the baby!

    • lindseygendke May 11, 2014 / 11:08 am

      Thanks for the encouragement and wise words! Big things can be accomplished in small steps…and mothers who hope to accomplish things, aside from keeping kids fed and clothed, need to remember that!

      • taylorhurstwriter56 May 11, 2014 / 11:09 am

        You’re very welcome 🙂

      • taylorhurstwriter56 July 15, 2014 / 2:33 pm

        Exactly 🙂 glad to help 🙂 good luck!

  3. Kate May 5, 2014 / 2:15 pm

    Great post, Lindsey. I often wonder what this will be like. I think you are making the wise choice. My choices aren’t in the same realm, but sometimes I have to pick btwn hanging out with my husband and being ‘present’ – and writing/blogging. And the relationship has to come first.

    Your time to write again will come! And your audience will be there!

    • lindseygendke May 11, 2014 / 10:57 am

      No matter where we are in life, there are always those tough choices, aren’t there? I’m glad God is willing to give me direction every day…when I take time to listen. Relationships and health are definitely paramount…yet God does bless us with more when we honor him. As I wrote to Cinda, above, he helped me get another good 13 hours of writing in last week! Blessings to you. Thanks for being part of my audience!

  4. Vinodhini May 6, 2014 / 3:18 am

    What wise choices your making dear Lindsey:) Its difficult but we can not do it merely in our flesh – our carnal self…. Its only possible by allowing the spirit to work in us!:) I made some wise choices, but unfortunately it was all done in my self wisdom which let me pile up frustrations, anger etc… But had I focused on God’s peace that passeth all understanding probably I would have been content and happy and avoided making many mistakes.. sigh!!

    Every time I read your blog it takes me back to my memory lanes… 🙂 Love the way you write 🙂

    • lindseygendke May 11, 2014 / 10:59 am

      Hey, thank you so much for the encouraging words, once again! I’m glad we can share the memories of motherhood, and frustrations, and trying to follow God. You sound like you really have your head on straight regarding putting God first. Still, even when we know it in our head, the daily grind tries to distract us…so, we put mind over matter and take that time with God. He smooths it out! Hope all is well! And Happy Mothers Day! (Do you celebrate that at the same time as in the U.S.?) Happy Motherhood, in any case!

  5. Luanne May 6, 2014 / 8:49 am

    When my son (first child) was a baby he needed 3 hour naps. I did question the doctor why and didn’t get a good answer. But I sure used those naps–to get my masters degrees. Now I believe I know why he slept so much and although it wouldn’t have changed anything, I wish I had been more concerned about it instead of using it. But then I don’t want to give away my degrees . . . .

    • lindseygendke May 11, 2014 / 11:02 am

      Oooh, the classic conflict for women: career/school and motherhood! Such a universal theme in this day and age! I have to say I love having both my degrees and my baby, and my blog, and my book…ugh. I want it all! And maybe it is all possible, just not all at the same time. Was your son okay, if I may ask? You made me curious…

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