How I rebooted my blogging habit after baby #2

Pre-baby #2 last May, I was blogging on a weekly basis. I had a precision system in place. Every week during one of the 60-minute writing sprints we run for my Writer’s Circle, I would knock out about 1000 words in 40 minutes, edit, proof, and polish it in the remaining 20, then grab an image and publish the whole shebang within maybe another 10 minutes or so. Then a few final tweaks to the copy in my mailing system and I was all set with my weekly post and newsletter (I have my blog set up to be pulled straight in to Aweber once it’s published on my site, then I broadcast it to my mailing list).

I had a SYSTEM. (And if you know me very well, you know how much I love a good system!)

It was fun, easy, and I was in a good rhythm with it for quite a few years. 

Then cue baby, stage right

But once baby #2 came, I knew all bets would be off. And they were.

In those early post-partum days, I was wandering around in a deep haze of physical exhaustion from the birth, breastfeeding and skin-to-skin induced oxytocin highs, and massive sleep deprivation and fragmentation – I was sleeping around the clock with the baby. In other words, all was as it should be. :)

But in the midst of it all, I still had (and have) a business to run. Since I knew it was going to be tough, I had planned to run a series of guest posts over the summer to keep the flow of content going. It was a great plan, and I had I realized what it would take I would have made it a higher priority to set up all the posts BEFORE the baby was born.

(Who am I kidding? The last 6 months of this pregnancy were tough and it was a minor miracle I did such a thorough job of prepping my team to keep things running in my absence! Still, in an ideal world, perhaps…)

In any case, it turns out that guest blog post editing and publishing takes me just as long if not longer than writing my own posts. Live and learn. Still, it was delightful to have a hiatus from being the solo content generator and it kept me in touch with writing and all of you. So once the baby shifted out of the long luxurious naps of The Early Days and into those short 40-minute jobs where there was no point in me trying to sleep anyway, I would get to work on guest posts and screenwriting assignments (and writing the occasional post myself, I think.)

But then the guest post series dried up and I found myself struggling to write the way I had before. Each post took me three times as long as it had in the past. I don’t know if it was the oxytocin/milk brain thing or the chronically tired mom thing or both, but blogging stopped coming so easily.

Then factor in the screenwriting I’m trying to keep up with for my master certificate program and blogging really started slipping through the cracks.

And something just wasn't feeling right

In the bigger picture somewhere along the way I also stopped feeling satisfied with the WAY I was blogging. I wanted to SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT or at least say it differently, but I wasn’t sure how or even what I exactly wanted to change.

Which led me to some soul searching.

Did I still want to blog?

Was there a different way I could see out there that I might want to try?

What struck me, eventually, was wanting to have more of a mix of posts. Some personal stories interspersed with the writing habit insights. Maybe even an opinion piece or two. Some longer pieces. And even a few occasional guest posts. Once that clarity emerged things got better. But it still wasn't happening.

Creativity required

So my desire was clearer but my action plan was lacking.

One of the things about being an entrepreneur with a baby at home is that you have to be flexible, creative, and resourceful at all times.

Now he's older and is sleeping for longer naps again I have two small windows of time to work in each day, assuming all goes according to plan and there are no random dogs barking during nap time! (Ahem.) (His name is Colton, by the way, and he’s a cute as a kitten playing with a dust bunny.)

So that means I have approximately two to three baby-free hours each day to apportion between screenwriting, blogging, and keeping my Writer’s Circle in motion. Not a lot of time. Sure. I could hire a babysitter and I do have some temporary help right now, but I WANT to be with my son while he is little like this.

Which is exactly the point. As a writer, and a mom, I have to be super creative about when, where, and how I write. I also have to make sure I get enough down time and sleep or I cross the line into crazy mama land pretty quickly. And since the old pattern wasn't working, I had to come up with a new one.

Finding new times to write

My new favorite time of day to blog is that small window of time before I go to sleep and after the kids are in bed. I’ve learned that I can write in Markdown text on my iPhone in an app with a nice dark mode (Byword) while snuggled in bed. It’s the perfect time to empty my brain of the blog posts I’ve been mentally composing all day (turns out that part of my issue lately has been having too much to say – it gets overwhelming and gums up the works without an outlet for expression).

The key is just making sure I get into bed early enough to write without messing up my sleep. On the other hand, sometimes sleep is hard to come by and having the flexibility to read or write in the middle of the night can be a mental relief rather than lying in the dark working out sentences and trying to keep them in my head until I have time to write them down. Plus it leaves my daytime work slots free for screenwriting and running my business.

Then in the morning I can sync up my files with Scrivener or export them straight into my blog in perfectly formatted HTML.

And it led to finding a new voice and new creative expression

Somehow having a new system has unleashed my creativity again. (See? What did I tell you about me and systems?) I just needed a system that worked with my current lifestyle.

It’s such a good reminder that when your writing pattern stops working, it’s time to redesign your writing life to match.

And the most fascinating outcome for me has been a shift in my writing voice that feels even more like me. 

I love it. :)

Comments

  1. Marjorie Pagel says:

    Jenna, I was in one of your Writer’s Circles Jan & Feb, and it helped me to get in the habit of daily writing. I especially loved the Sprints, knowing that while I was at my computer in Wisconsin, others were busy in California, Arizona, Florida. . .wherever.
    I liked your blog today. We need systems to help us achieve our goals, but we can’t be slaves to our own self-devised systems — especially if there’s a baby in the house. I have no babies or children — not even a dog any more, just my husband. But many other commitments beckon.

    • So glad we were able to you into the habit of daily writing, Marjorie! I like what you said about being slaves to our own systems. We always have to be willing to revisit them if it starts to feel that way. Thanks for commenting!

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