Writing Tips

My Writing Life During Maternity Leave

I’m heading back to work this week. Between that and starting 2023, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how the last twelve weeks went since my daughter was born. 

It was tough.

That’s the easiest way to summarize all my emotions. Of course I knew going in that newborns require a lot of energy and attention from sleep-deprived parents, but I also heard a lot of good things about maternity leave. One coworker told me about all the television they caught up on during middle of the night feeds. I read another article where a mom talked about how the first baby is so easy and her husband and her just drank wine and passed the baby back and forth. Surely, I thought, I’d find a little time to write if others had been able to watch TV and drink wine. And I did. Kind of. A teensy bit. But again, it was HARD. 

I mostly wrote during middle of the night feeds, propping her up with one hand and using my other to type on my phone. That and a few naptimes. But mostly, even when I found the time, I was too tired to manage something worth keeping. After a few times writing gibberish, I decided to wave my white flag and only write when I was well-rested AND she was napping. In twelve weeks, that happened three times. The other time I was able to write was when my husband would take her to give me space. Even then, though, I really needed time to recover from my C-section and how draining breastfeeding can be.

All in all, I only wrote 8,000 words these past twelve weeks. From someone who usually writes that in two weeks or so, it’s really hard not to be disappointed in myself. I am doing my best to recognize that I’m going through a major life change and I need to be kinder to myself. But still. 

I fear not being able to finish my WIP in a timely manner. I fear that even if I do, it will be nonsensical due to exhaustion. But I know working writing moms who have done it before me, and I’m holding onto that energy as I surge forward with determination and perseverance. 

I will find a way, because I want to. I need to. 

Maybe it’ll happen even faster than I’m hoping. Maybe we’ll find more of a routine with me back at work and her going to daycare. Then again, maybe I should lower my expectations and just be.

All I can do is do the best I can. And as long as I do that, I’m sure I’ll look back on this time and be pretty proud of what I was able to accomplish… even if it’s just a few thousand words.

Every word leads to another scene. Every scene leads to a new chapter. Every chapter leads to a completed novel and, eventually, THE END. 


14 thoughts on “My Writing Life During Maternity Leave

  1. First, congratulations on your healthy, happy baby!
    The fact that you accomplished anything outside having and caring for your baby is something to be proud of. I’m sure once you find a new rhythm, things will return to a new normal and your productive side will improve.

  2. Nothing will be the same now that you have your little one. It will be better! But, cut yourself some slack, grant yourself the grace of accepting that things will change and you’ll get there … in a different way, at a different pace, but you’ll get there.

  3. Happy New Year, Shannon! I always believe that every writer writes what they know and that such knowledge is the sum total of that writer’s experiences. Motherhood not only will serve as a source of inspiration for you but also that it will open your mind to other hidden possibilities that will be unlocked timely for you.

  4. Way back in the day, I decided to start writing during the fifth week of maternity leave with my son (first child). I didn’t actually start writing until six months later (when he started sleeping through the night). Give yourself some grace. Be kind to yourself. Your writing will wait for you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I cannot wait until she sleeps through the night. We’re still waking up every three hours or so, so I’m feeling so off all of the time. Your story gives me hope. πŸ™‚

  5. Crikey, give yourself a break Shannon! I don’t think I could have ever embarked – or continued – a writing career when we had young kids. And I was just the dad! Mums definitely have much more of the call of duty I think. That you wrote any words AT ALL is to your credit. Don’t be downhearted. Give yourself space and time. As your baby grows and you both develop routines (which will change of course, annoyingly!) you’ll find those spaces where you can write will increase. Until then, enjoy that best book in the world you made in your womb πŸ™‚

  6. Don’t be surprised if some of your characters change, when you get back to writing. Your priorities have shifted.

    I’ll never forget one friend, who in D&D always played very hard-edged characters. After she had kids, her characters became tough-love clerics who could never turn their back on the helpless.

    With your writing, you may find this change makes your work richer than it was because you are incorporating more experiences.

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