Episode 18: Writing and Parenting are Iterative

in this episode

Parenting and writing are both iterative processes. Having to be flexible with both doesn't mean that one or the other isn't important or deserving of attention. In this episode, Jennie Nash, Abby Mathews, and Melanie Parish talk about how parents have a unique ability as writers because they understand that just as you teach your children concepts that progress over time, so it is with writing - a first draft becomes a final draft (just as a child becomes an adult) through circling back again and again, learning and refining and gaining understanding through process.    

The way real writers work is iterative - you go back again and again to the same concepts, deepening and filling them with nuance.  It's almost how they teach math in school - concepts are taught and gone back to again and again, year after year, and they get more complex or understood on a deeper level.  

The more you learn, the more you go back and lock things in. It’s one of the things that makes it so fun!
— Jennie Nash

A mistake a lot of writers make is thinking that the goal is to crank out a draft and call it a day.  Then you have this thing that might not be what you want it to be, you don't know how to get it to where you want it to be, and there's this push and pull between not wanting to mess with your finished product yet knowing that it's not quite right.  Jennie is teaching Abby and Mel the process of understanding iterative writing.  Nothing is final, ever - it's all a very fluid process, and that allows you the freedom to go back to your work and change it without feeling like you failed the first time.

How do we switch between writer and mom?  The mental switch when you're "writing at the kitchen table" can be a struggle. When your child is in crisis, whether it be a stomach illness or a bad day at school, it's the first priority in your mind and that is absolutely normal and expected. But eventually, even as your kids get older, it can become habit even if you're at the point when you're not solving all their problems anymore. Part of this is asking yourself if this is something you need to take care of immediately, and part of it is letting your writing take up space in your life and your head.  

Jennie talks about May Respicio and her writing process - she wrote her book while she had two small children at home.  She made a commitment to herself to write at least five minutes a day.  Five minutes at minimum - some days it would be only this, and some days it would be much more, but eventually, May had her finished product, The House That Lou Built

You can make progress in small chunks of time, but it’s the commitment to the process that gets you where you need to go.
— Jennie Nash
The House That Lou Built
By Mae Respicio