Many authors talk about novel-writing as being pregnant with a story or birthing a world. It’s all grand and metaphoric.
And then there are those who are actually pregnant while writing a novel. We turn into a bundle of hormones and cravings, fall asleep at inopportune times and occasionally wonder if our brains have been replaced by a sack of cornmeal.
How are we supposed to keep characters straight when we keep putting our clothes on inside out and walking down the street with all the seams showing?
After a lot of freewriting and character development, I wrote the full first draft of BODY COPY, my small-town newspaper novel, while pregnant with my daughter. Nine months’ gestation for both. Of course the novel needed a lot of revisions, and my kiddo needed a lot of diaper changes.
It took 18 months after the birth to return to that manuscript. It was pretty much like starting over with a second first draft. I was a new person (a mom!), and the time away from the page gave me a different perspective on my story. I also had to learn to write more efficiently, as my schedule became focused on my family’s needs.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about writing during pregnancy.
- It’s a very bad idea to write a scene while you’re trying not to throw up.
- Likewise, scenes with lots of food, or bad smells (19th century New York disease-ridden tenements, for instance), are best left to the second or third trimesters.
- Whatever work occurs during these nine months, regardless of quality or quantity, is worth celebrating (and then revising).
- When in doubt, blame pregnancy brain–whether that’s for losing your keys again or using too many adverbs.
- Deadlines are necessary. So are naps. It’s OK to put naps first.
- When critiquing a fellow writer’s manuscript, apologize in advance for any hormone-induced inattention.
- Don’t put too much pressure on this particular novel. The story will wait however long it needs to. Relax and take the time to enjoy your changing body, and remember to jot down some notes about being pregnant. You’ll be glad to have those words later.
- Panicking about what a baby will do to your writing? Head over to Yuvi Zalkow’s site to watch his presentation, “I’m a Failed Writer #2: Time Management.” I don’t want to give anything away, but it will make you feel better. I promise.
- If you’ve checked out Yuvi’s presentation and you’re still panicking, go read Faith Elizabeth Hough’s recent post, “Top ten reasons having a baby is great for writing.” She’s writing and blogging with a newborn–and she’s a mom of three! Talk about inspirational.
Are you—or have you been—pregnant with a story and a baby? Please share your stories!