Tag Archives: writers block

Odds and Ends

My notebook is chock-full of half-written blog posts. They all seem a little bland to me. This post is going to be short and, let’s face it, rather dull, but (and this is important) I’m going to finish it and type it up and post it.

The article I wrote for Australian Catholics has been published (!!!)  If you click here, you can catch a tantalising glimpse of the title, graphic and first paragraph.  The rest, unfortunately, is only available to online subscribers.

If you live in Australia, you might be able to get a copy from your local Catholic church or school.  Failing that, I might see if I can get permission to reprint the article a few months from now.  I’m not really sure how these things work.

I’ve also written an article for Madonna, AC’s sister publication (!!!), but that will just be a re-working of my Mary, Help of Kitchens post and it hasn’t gone to print yet.

My (other) work in progress.  See that bit of purple at the bottom of the shot?  That's my belly...

My (other) work in progress. See that bit of purple at the bottom of the shot? That’s my belly…

The twins continue to grow and I am now officially the size of a small W-class tram.  I am coping with all this by waddling everywhere like some oversized toddler and perfecting the art of Phoning It In.

Behold:  Harry’s birthday cake:

dodgy cake with increasingly indecipherable writing

I ran out of writing icing.  Fail.

I think, perhaps, I should rename this post “Odd and End”, because I can’t think of anything more to tell you and my break is almost over and I’m determined to actually finish this post so it doesn’t become lost among my other half-written monstrosities floating around the place.  Incidentally, if there is something particular you would like me to write a post about, please leave me a comment.  I’m feeling a little stuck at the moment.

And now, in the spirit of Phoning It In, I’m going to finish this post right now, without anything witty to round it off and without tying any ends together.

*dial tone*

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5 Reasons Why Stay-At-Home Parenting = Writing Success

I used to think I would have to wait for my children to grow up a bit before thinking about becoming a writer, but now I realize I’m exactly where I need to be. Here’s why:

 

1. You will be desperate for a creative outlet

odd socks

There are only so many lullabies you can sing and pretend cappuccinos you can sip before you start craving a use for your brain.  Harness this hunger and write!

 

2.  It’s the ideal set-up

"The Frenzy": a cartoon depicting chaos surrounding an oblivious Kate who is writing furiously. Annie empties cornflakes onto the table, Harry is watering the television and the other two have kindled a small fire on the table and are roasting marshmallows

If you were trying to write on weekends whilst working full-time, you might struggle to get yourself into the right frame of mind.  If you took time off work to focus on your writing, you would have to face the unbearable pressure of producing something good and printable to validate your choice.  When you’re a stay-at-home-parent, you have the luxury of writing for fun.  If you ever get to the point of writing something print-worthy, that’s a bonus.

 

3. Writing time is precious

Pretty notepad with pen, tea and chocolate

Let’s face it: If I had all day to write, I would probably spend it drinking tea, flipping through Facebook, re-organising my shoe collection and staring at a blank page.  As a stay-at-home-parent, writing time alone is a rare treat for me.  I try to make the most of every second, whether the words are flowing or not.

 

4. There is a never-ending supply of writer’s block cures

fairy dresses on washing line

I find the best antidote for blank-page-syndrome is menial work.  Doing something boring with my hands frees up my brain to explore ideas.  Fortunately, being a stay-at-home-parent provides me with an endless supply of these cures.  I’ve chewed over writing while I’m doing the dishes, shopping for sausages, pegging out washing, changing nappies and buttering piles of sandwiches.

It works wonders.

 

5.  You will be provided with a perfect abundance of material

Hand drawn cartoon. A wild-haired Kate is holding a saucepan and looking disconcerted: her five-year-old daughter has collapsed under the weight of her saucepan costume. Caption reads "Enid Blyton versus Newton's law or universal gravitation"

Can you tell there’s a squashed child under all those saucepans? Can you even tell they’re meant to be saucepans??

We all think we would write better if we could just go off to some cabin in the woods and be a hermit for a while.  But I don’t think it really works that way.  Apart from the obvious homicidal-mania-related side effects (haven’t you ever seen The Shining?), shutting yourself off from daily distraction would also mean shutting yourself off from a wealth of inspiration.  If I didn’t spend the bulk of my time making colossal mistakes as a parent, I would have nothing to write about.

 

So there you have it.  I know you think you don’t have time, but use what small pockets you can set aside.  A lot of this can apply to other creative pursuits as well (just replace the word “writing” with “painting”/ “pottery”/ “international space-station design”)

What do you think?  Have I missed anything?  Am I totally off my rocker?  Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.

Awkward Post

cup cosies

Oh, Blog!

It’s been such a long time, and I’ve missed you like a person.

When we’ve been apart so long, it starts to get a little awkward.   I don’t know what to say.  I can’t just pick up where we left off, words pouring out onto the back of an old envelope as I wait in the car for netball to finish.  It’s not that easy.  We need to spend some quality time together and that can be tricky to arrange.

I can’t believe I missed your birthday.  And I never finished Art in August with you, even thought I have photos in my phone.  I’m sorry.

But, Blog, I’ve got some great news.  Lovely M (the patron saint of sanity) has volunteered to look after the kids for a couple of hours and sent me out to the library to write.

And, oh Blog, I’ve so much to talk to you about!

But first, we must have this awkward and rather self-indulgent post to break the drought.   Bloggy small-talk.

I hope you don’t mind.

 

 

 

 

 

So, I’ve been thinking…

10 Short Takes

I get stuck sometimes with blogging.  I write these long, rambling posts with far too much detail and then nothing for weeks on end.  Then, it’s like I’ve set a standard for myself to write another overly-long post.  Well, no more!  I’ve had an idea for another sort of post for those times when I don’t have an epic fail to write about and I haven’t constructed something out of wool to boast about.  I’m calling it “10 Short Takes”, a list of 10 comments or pictures on a given theme.  It will combine my love of numbered lists with the discipline of brevity.  It will also be a nice way to keep in touch without the pressure of a long post.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing any more painfully long posts full of tangents and asides.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stop that if I tried.  That’s the way I talk as well, incidentally.  I prefer not to get straight to the point.  I can spend more time in the centre of attention that way.  These short takes will be in addition to the rambly ones and (hopefully) will help to fill up the long breaks between boasts and fails and miscellaneous God-bothering.

I was also thinking this might be a nice chance to have a bit of a link-up.  If you’d like to have a go at a ’10 short takes’ post, link to me and I’ll link to you.  All you need to do is write 10 comments (or photos) on any theme of your choosing.  I’ve even been playing around learning how to make a button:

10ShortTakes

 

Ohhh!  I can’t believe that worked (after the fourteenth try, I mean)!  So if you’d like to use the button in your post, copy the text in the above grab box and paste it in your post when it’s in “Text” mode (not Visual – see those two tabs at the top?)

I’ll follow this post up with some “10 Short Takes” posts.  The ironic thing is, this whole idea got me stuck for a while (I’d written most of this post beforeSlump‘) because I wanted the first “Short Takes” to be perfect and thus I froze.  These posts will not be perfect.  But an imperfect post that’s actually published is better than a long absence whilst I chase unrealistic ideals.  It would be really strange if you were sitting at my virtual kitchen table and I only spoke when I had something profound and well-edited to say.   Blogging is not a performance, it’s a conversation.

Blogging is not a performance.   It’s a conversation.

Stay tuned.

Slump

I’m stuck.  I want to write you a great post, a pithy post, a post that really says something, but I’ve hit a bit of a slump.  I’m all blocked up.

I say it’s all because I have no time to write, and in a way that’s true.  Small people tend to crowd my headspace these days and (while I love them and my vocation fiercely – I’m living the dream, I truly am), I crave an hour or two alone to write as much as a twelve-year-old girl craves a One-Direction poster signed by Harry or Corey or whatever his name is.

But in another way, that’s completely not true.  When I’m stung by a good writing idea, I’ll write when I have no time at all, furiously scribbling on old receipts and the backs of envelopes whilst the house falls into disrepair all around me.

"The Frenzy": a cartoon depicting chaos surrounding an oblivious Kate who is writing furiously.  Annie empties cornflakes onto the table, Harry is watering the television and the other two have kindled a small fire on the table and are roasting marshmallows

Good times.  But I’ve no idea what to do to get stung.  It just happens.

I was talking to my friend Strider today.  He’d brought Merri and Pippin over for a play (Arwen was working and Samwise was at a sleepover).  As we sipped hot beverages and gazed at our children rolling about on the trampoline (“Simon says: take off your pants!”), Strider asked me about my blog: did I have any posts in the works?  And was he ever going to get mentioned? (I promised him a Tolkein-themed pseudonym months ago).

So I told him, here’s what I’m working on at the moment (except that I’m not working on any of them):

  • two short stories for a local competition
  • two articles for Seton Magazine
  • A new whole series of blog posts that I want to make into a linky
  • Another Art in August linky
  • this post

Strider nodded wisely.  “Just pick one, Kate.  You’ve made it too hard for yourself.  Don’t worry about the others until the first one is done.”

He’s right.  I’ve allowed everything to pile up and bottleneck and have become all overwhelmed.  And the more time passes from my last post the greater the pressure to write something really epic to compensate for the long wait.  I get paralysed by perfection.  And this makes me avoid writing even more.

Amidst all this confusion, my Inner Critic saunters in and takes advantage of the situation and insists loudly that none of these ideas are any good anyway and I’m kidding myself if I think I am any sort of writer.  I think guiltily of all the readers I must be losing because they think I don’t write here any more, that Laptop on the Ironing Board is the cyber-equivalent of a ghost town, not worth visiting.  And then my mind crowds with images of creepy abandoned amusement parks and rusty swing sets and tumbleweeds and I feel so sad for my poor neglected blog and I think I should really write ten very special posts to make up for it and then I remember that’s what got me into this mess in the first place.

So, here is a post that’s not so epic but which I hope will act as a sort of brain-Metamucil and get things moving again.

There’s nothing like being regular, after all.

Nothing Post

Free Aldi flowers - still going after 2 weeks!

This is just a nothing post.  I want to write something sparkling and profound for you, but I don’t think I can manage it today.  So this is a nothing post.  I miss you, dear reader, and I want to connect, there are plenty of topics I want to write about, but they’re difficult and I just can’t get the shape of them today.  Maybe we can just sit at my virtual kitchen table (that’s where I always imagine us to be, you see) and stare out the window together.

Perhaps if I write this, then whatever I write next won’t have all the pressure and expectation of a two-week break on its shoulders.  It can just be an ordinary post, not a Triumphant Return to Blogworld.

Ugh.  Annie’s crying.  She was supposed to sleep for longer!  Thank you for sharing this nothing time with me.  With any luck, I’ll be back soon with something of substance to say!