Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Water For My Well ---Guest Blogger Rebecca J. Carlson

Thanks to Rebecca for stepping in for Jenn today! Here's a little bit about her:

I am 36 years old, I live in Henderson, Nevada, I have five children and I've been writing all my life. My first story was sold to The Leading Edge about nine years ago, and since then I've sold a story to the Friend, an anecdote to BYU Magazine, and had a couple of items published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. I write science fiction and fantasy, and my first novel, Earthcrosser is currently under consideration. I have a book review blog- http://rebeccasrecommendedreads.blogspot.com/.
Water For My Well

One baby, one move, and three years after I started my first novel, I sat down one morning, determined to finish it. Hours later my five-year-old complained, "Mommy, we're hungry! When's lunch?"

"Later," I replied, my glazed eyes on the computer screen, my fingers typing obsessively.

Finally, in the late afternoon, I burned out and gave up, still chapters from the end of my book. When I found the children they weren't hungry anymore. They had helped themselves to my one day-old, beautifully hand-decorated gingerbread house.

For many years, my writing and I had a rough relationship. I loved to write, but every time I sat down to do it, something bad happened. The kids would make a mess. The dishes wouldn't get washed. I would turn on the computer to change just one sentence, and then four hours later I would realize I'd missed a visiting teaching appointment. Sometimes I would be very good and go for days without writing, telling myself that tomorrow I'd have some time. I always had my eye out for that rare chance to sneak away to the computer, and when I got there I would spend longer than I meant to.

Then, in April 2008, Elder M. Russel Ballard gave that marvelous General Conference address for young mothers. He said, "...find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children." I thought, "Elder Ballard just told me to make time to write every day! I'm going to do it!"

When I first sat down with my schedule, it looked hopeless. It took some work, but I found a time every day when I had about an hour with no regular commitments. I put on a video for my toddler, turned the sound down low, and wrote. Every day.

Three good things happened. First of all, I no longer felt anxious wondering when my next chance to write would be. I knew it would be at one o'clock. Second, my writing improved. Daily practice does wonders. Third, it filled my well. I felt like was accomplishing something tangible. Cook dinner, the family eats it. Clean the room, the kids dump out the toys again. But write a book, and it stays! At least until time to revise, but that's another post.

So, if any of you writing moms out there don't have a daily writing routine yet, find one! Even if it is only for a few minutes a day. You are worth it! And your children and grandchildren will thank you for your books.

-Rebecca J. Carlson


  1. Rebecca- your post is very encouraging to me. As a mother of a toddler I have a hard time finding my schedule. I am sorry but I laughed at the destruction of your ginger bread house. It is funny what the kids get into when you are busy listening to the muse. After finding my daughter covered in marker, I realized markers wash off, the muse doesn't always return.

  2. Great post. I have two little ones and it is so hard to find time to write. I've been trying to figure out a schedule, but haven't been very good with it yet. I will definitely try to find time every day to write from now on.

  3. i LOVE rebecca carlson and her writings :) i am a subscriber to a couple of her blogs and very pleased to find out there is another one i wasnt aware of. what a SUPER and well written post. thanks rebecca for the time you make for writing--it blesses me! someday i will be a speedy reader like you and read ALL those books you so beautifully review.

  4. I so relate to Rebecca and her desire to write in the face of reality. I'm NOT ALONE!!! lol.

  5. Thanks again to Rebecca. I decided I needed to get better at this too and today I filled my well! I felt like I had written sooo much on my WIP, but was a little to realize I wrote less than 500 words. I only had little moments during work to write so I was proud of myself for fitting it in even if it was only a little bit.

  6. Rebecca!
    You are so awesome! I love your style. I love your attentiveness. You have such a nurturing spirit! I want to get to know you more! Tell me how, please!

  7. Welcome rebecca! Great post!

    It's been so hard to find that time to write and edit while I've been at my moms--until just recently. Now I'm happier, my brain is happier and surprisingly my family is happier too.

  8. That was very encouraging, and a good reminder that IT IS OKAY to make time for ourselves. I need to go tell my own toddler that only I don't think he'll understand. He only watches TV if I am watching and commentating with him.

  9. Thanks everyone! This is great fun. I'd like to resonate with Jenni's comment - I stay cheerful and keep up with my housework best when I faithfully put in my daily writing time.

  10. Lovely post! I really needed to read this, as I've been getting discouraged about writing and sometimes feel guilty about focusing on my WIP.

    PS: We're neighbors! I live in Henderson, NV, too. What ward/stake are you in? If you ever want to meet up, lmk! My email is terresaw (at) gmail (dot) com. Hope to hear from you!!



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