Friday, February 3, 2012

To Mommy's Who Write

     I just read this interview in Writer's Digest with Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander books. ( I read and really liked the historical aspect of Outlander, it was just a little too va-va-voom for me.) One thing she said really stood out to me and I had to share:
     ...a lot of beginning writers- and not just women, but particularly women- have a tremendous amount of guilt over doing it because they do realize that it's not a sure thing, and they're risking a lot of time and energy and so forth, and they have a tremendous amount of demands on that time and energy.
     You know, everybody wants a piece of you if you're a Mommy. And they want it all the time- everybody wants all of you all the time. And therefore to see you doing something like this, I can say they feel threatened- they don't like it, and they will let you know in no uncertain terms. And so you are constantly having not only to fight off your family, but also your own feelings and guilt. What I do say to people who come up and tell me this, I say, "How much television do you watch?" I say, "Do you feel like you're depriving your family if you're watching TV? Okay, write during that time. Don't watch TV and don't feel guilty."
     I had to share this because I totally relate. There's an immense feeling of guilt when you're spending your time in front of a computer screen and not with your children, even if it's just an hour or two a day. I liked her approach on it: don't watch TV. About a year ago I told my husband that I wasn't going to watch TV or movies that I really didn't care to see anymore. (Okay, I still do sometimes. Sometimes it can't be helped.) Instead of watching some stupid comedy or action movie that I never wanted to see in the first place, or sitting down and channel surfing, I was going to do something that I wanted to do.
     When I said this to him, it sounded totally selfish. Like- I'm going to do what I want to do. But what I meant was, I'm not going to waste my time. I'd rather read a good book. I'd rather work on my writing. I have so few hours in the day, why waste them watching reality TV when I could be doing something that is not only enjoyable, but might actually further my writing career? And why feel guilt over it? Why feel guilt over that as opposed to staring mindlessly at the idiot box (my Dad's name for it)?
     So, take Gabaldon's advice. Don't want TV, or cut out some other mindless activity like surfing the Internet or playing Spider Solitaire. Write instead, and don't feel guilty.
***PS- I still watch TV. Just the shows I love though.***


  1. Great idea. It's amazing how many little ways we find to waste time in a day. Think of all the great things we could be doing instead, like reading or writing. I always marvel at those people that have way crazier schedules than I do, who still manage to find time to get writing done. They're just better managers of their time because they have to be. I guess it's all about cutting out that useless stuff and using time instead for what matters. :-)

  2. That is marvelous advice. I feel guilty when I go to a writer's meeting or get really into a book. I don't write while my son is awake, but I think about it a lot. Yet I know it makes me a happier person to do writer stuff and that helps to make me a happier mommy in the end.

  3. thanks for sharing! I totally get where you're coming from. It's hard doing the balancing act as a mother, wife, writer. I'd much rather spend time reading and writing than sitting in front of a tv as well.

  4. I've been doing this for about two years and I can't even begin to tell you how much it helps. I may not be able to talk about all the recent shows with my coworkers, but I get a heck of a lot of writing and reading done. ;)

  5. Thanks for sharing this. The guilt is so real. I try to write only in the day while the kids are at school, but I still have one at home. The way I get past the guilt is by spending the morning doing things with him. That way I can have writing time after lunch and not feel too bad.

    The best thing? Next year he starts school! Cue heavenly choirs of angels--Time for serious writing!

    And I cut out TV (all but Castle and Bones) a long time ago. It was the best decision ever, and I don't miss it.

  6. Great advice from a fabulous author. I am amazed at the ways I can waste time--and TV is a major time suckage. I unplug everything when I want to write.