We’re continuing a guest post series on the blog today called How She Does It (just like the book). Read more about the series here. (If you’d like to submit, email me at modern mrs darcy at gmail dot com. I would especially like submissions from those in more traditional office-y job. Thank you!)
Today’s post comes from Hannah Vanderpool. Join me in welcoming her to the blog!
I’ve always been a creative type. Music was the language of my family of origin, but writing was my private joy. I didn’t analyze it or imagine what type of future job I might land if I developed my skills. My love of the written word was just mine, like the fact that I was petite and had dark hair.
I never stopped writing, but it has taken a backseat in my adult life for several years. Having married fresh out of college, I promptly had three babies in three years, then helped my husband get through grad school, moved our entire family to India for three years (learning Hindi in the process), and began homeschooling when our firstborn was old enough. It was a jam-packed season, and there were times when I could focus only on the task at hand (read: survive).
But now we’re back in the States, the kids are pre-teens, I’m close to 40, and I’m ready to return to one of my dearest loves: writing. While I’m still teaching my kids at home, I’ve found that space for creativity has opened up in my life.
I’m pursuing my writerly passion while not yet getting paid to do so. It’s a tricky and freeing place to be and it requires its own kind of discipline. I’ve learned that I have to make time to create, and that sometimes I’m tempted to quit.
Here are some ways I’ve carved space in my days to get better at my craft instead of waiting for “someday” when things get easier:
I include the kids. This year I wrote a first draft of a massive personal project. I knew this would mean that I spent more ‘quiet’ time away from the kids, and that this would be an adjustment for them. I sat them down before I started to let them know how important they are to me and my success. I promised that when my project was complete, they could read it and give me feedback. This made them much more cooperative when I had to remind them not to interrupt me while I was working.
I take time to think, without interruption, every day. (My kids are older: I haven’t been sleep-deprived in several years, and can afford to wake early most mornings.) The time I spend alone, dreaming, musing, and praying is golden to me. It means I’m already primed for inspiration, even when I’m in the middle of helping my middle-schooler with his math assignment. Without this focused time to let my mind settle on things that are deeply meaningful to me, I can’t quickly tap in to what helps me be better writer.
I focus on the big picture. Life as mom, especially when my kids are always—or often—with me, is full of the (blessed) mundane. I remind myself that I am practicing my art for me, now and not later, because I want to improve, to stay open to future possibilities, to grow. Writing reminds me there’s a lot of life to be lived, even after the kids are grown. It’s important enough to make it real in my day-to-day, without putting it in front of my kids’ needs now.
Pursing a passion when there are kids at home, especially if that passion has not translated into dollars (yet), can seem indulgent and frivolous. And, of course, sometimes the tyranny of the urgent temporarily overrides my personal pursuit of excellence.
But including the kids in my goals, creating space for quiet reflection, and keeping an eye toward the bigger picture can help me find the courage and rhythm for my creative goals and passions, even when a paycheck hasn’t come in—yet.
Married to her college sweetheart, Hannah Vanderpool is a Jesus-follower, a mom of three interesting kids, a writer, teacher, and world-traveler. She can’t imagine a world without sisters and books. Find her at her blog, Praying with One Eye Open.