On being a mother who writes
I tell myself, it's just a free write. Set the timer, just write. No pressure, just write. I even scroll up and type "fureeeee wruhiiiite" in the title. A free write is a writing that's free of purpose and confining structure, right? So then why it is it so difficult? Forcing the cursor across the screen for 10 minutes just to combat the freeze that's been going on in my writing life these many months; trying to keep the keys clicking softly so I don't analyze my ridiculous sentences, and so that creeping inertia doesn't get me. What are the semi-colon rules again? Whatever you do, self, don't stop to reread or do editing of any kind in a free write. Or would that be free-write?
"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere."
Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird
I've often blamed my lack of writing on my children. It feels like there are so many of them and their needs are even more numerous than their toys, and how could a homeschooling mother find any time to write anyway, now that she has four children filling up her heart and mind and time?
Unfortunately, I have come right up against the fact that this is a lie. For three weeks in June, my younger three children visited our family in Oregon. For one of those weeks, Allie was also gone on a mission trip, and the week after she was barely back because she was deeply involved in post-mission trip/summer break sleeping. So I had time, and lots of it. It's true that I felt very off balance during this period. Being a mother at my core, it took me some time to develop a rhythm that did not involve caring for young children. But still.
I've spent the last eight-ish years imagining that, once I was no longer consumed by mothering (which might in itself be a fantasy), I would rise early, have a nice quiet walk and breakfast, and then sit down with a steaming mug and do some writing to start my day. However, I had three weeks of basically zero child interaction before noon, and not once did I sit down to write in the morning, or the afternoon. Nope, not the evening either. Ok, I'm exaggerating. I think there were a few ten or fifteen minute snippets when I forced myself to tap away at the keys or scratch a pen across a notebook, but nothing beyond drivel ever came from it. What is the deal with that?
So it turns out it's me and not them. This is a bummer because, while I'm pretty good at complaining about them, I can actually do something about me. Thus the free-write. Ding!
So this particular anxiety is not about me in comparison to other people, though I do have that anxiety also, but that's not the one I'm dealing with here. This writing anxiety is that I want to express myself as pure and as close to the truth as I can. I want to be "in the right" about understanding myself and then expressing that here. . . Readers might make all manner of erroneous assumptions when reading this and I hate that I can't thoroughly explain myself to basically make myself look better. Thoroughly explaining myself would take many writing hours, writing hours of anxiety and "did I say this right", and "is this the best expression of what I'm going through and trying to communicate" angst.
Rene Tougas, Facing My Writing Anxiety