Step one: You’ll probably have to do most of the typing. If your baby is like mine, she’ll have a hard enough time not randomly flailing with her arms, much less exerting the finer control necessary to work a keyboard.

Wait, that’s the wrong post.

When our little bird was first born, I started a post by saying I had no idea how to write with a baby in the house. Since then I’ve had a few more weeks’ experience. Now I’m spending two weeks on my own as a stay-at-home dad to bridge the gap between my wife’s maternity leave and when daycare starts. My goal during this time is to wrap up two short stories and maybe write a script or two for a video project I’m considering. That’s a lot of work, and a lot of figuring out how to write…with a baby that just woke up. I’ll be right back.

False alarm. She cooed and then went back out. She’ll do that sometimes. But it makes a point for me. Babies are unpredictable. Even with the little bird getting into more of a schedule every day, that schedule can slip by up to an hour either direction, and can derail completely if she gets it in her mind to cry for a half hour. A few days ago, Linda talked about managing your time as a writer. Now that I have a baby,the management includes realizing that my time isn’t entirely mine anymore.

The solution came via my wife, who had a few weeks to perfect it. The instinct with a newborn is to exist in a state of constant readiness. She might wake up at any moment. Want a bottle at any moment. Need a change at any moment. Every second of the day is filled with this anticipatory readiness to jump, which makes it hard to get anything started. Why start into a short story when you might have to drop everything in five minutes to go warm up a bottle.

Why?

Well, for one, because now you’ve gotten five minutes into the story that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Sometimes I only have enough time to open Scrivener. But when I get back to my computer, Scrivener is open and ready to go. And sometimes I’ll open Scrivener and have another hour of quiet to do some solid writing.

That’s it. That’s apparently the secret. Breaking that cycle of constant readiness, that fear that you might not have enough time. I have to grab every moment that she gives me, rather than worrying about how much work I’ll have time for. That means some days I’ll get a lot done, some days only a little, but most days that I set out to do at least something, at least something gets done.

And now she actually is awake, so it’s back to fatherhood.

About the author

DLThurston DL Thurston is a writer of novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. He has short stories due out soon in the Steam Works anthology from Hydra Publications and in The Memory Eater. When he's not writing, he also brews beer and even drinks it sometimes. Check out his exploits either on his blog or on Twitter.