For me, writing feels like a selfish endeavor. Sure, sometimes the process can lead to insights that ultimately bring the writer closer to others (see my previous post), but for the most part the act of writing is a solitary–and sometimes isolating–one.
When I began getting serious about writing a few years ago, I didn’t want it to impinge upon my time with my family. I didn’t want to be locked up in a room of the house writing while my wife and son went about their day. I didn’t want to disrupt my wife’s and my routine of settling into the couch after a long day. And, I didn’t want to steal time from our weekends or vacations when my family desperately needed to (re)connect. So instead, I found time in the wee hours of the morning. As someone who needs to be at work around 7am, that meant goddamn early in the morning, settling down in my kitchen or heading out to the coffee house while it was still dark outside. It felt like the best solution. My family would be asleep until later anyways, so writing early technically wouldn’t rob me of a second of my time with them. However, the toll was insidious.
For a few years, I became obsessed. I used to work out. I used to meditate. Those things went out the window because I wanted to make time for writing. No, I needed to make time for writing. Writing became my major drive in the morning. Only after I’d written did I feel as though I could go about my rather mundane work life.
The consequences crept up on me. As an early riser, the early morning wake-ups were not a big deal at first, but as time went by, I found myself waking up earlier (4am?), and doing it almost every day. Eventually, I started to dull in the afternoons, or get sleepy really early in the evening. It got to the point where I couldn’t keep my eyes open much past 8pm. It didn’t matter if Lost was on. It didn’t matter if it was the Super Bowl. I would lose it at the end of the night.
I had to re-calibrate and figure out what was most important. I started slowing down and eventually lost the steam for writing and put it all down for about 6 months. Then, I decided to get back in the swing of things and started this blog. The blog has been an endeavor of self-discovery and has recharged my motivation for writing again. But when do I find myself doing it? Today I awoke at 5:30am (on a Sunday!), just to sit here in my kitchen and write. Again I feel the urge to write, but can’t consider “stealing” any time away from my family. Granted, I do this less frequently now. I’ve regained some balance to my mornings. I no longer consider waking up at 4am, and I actually work out once in a while. But how do I maintain the balance?
Throughout all this, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. How does someone write a blog about mindful parenting, when the blog itself has the potential to pull him away from his family or turn him into a drooling zombie at night? I’m finding my way, but with much trepidation, knowing that the urge to write can be so strong as to overwhelm my sense of purpose and my center.
I’m curious about other parents. When do you find the time to write, and how do you balance it with family?