This piece appeared back in 2012 but, in light of our current public health crisis, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing, it applies to more than only parents of new babies. Megan and Craig Mattes, two professional creatives who work in advertising, weigh in.
What was the hardest part about getting back to writing after your kids were born, and did you have to do anything special to get back into the swing? Did something change? Get easier/harder? Why do you suppose this happened to you?
In this installment of stuck/unstuck, I wanted to find out how the professional creatives get back to writing after a baby arrives and then another one arrives a few years later? And I wanted to ask a couple. Craig and Megan Mattes have faced this (together) and share. Craig is a writer and copy supervisor at a large advertising agency. Megan is a former editor at Parents magazine who has written beauty, health and lifestyle pieces for national publications such as Ladies’ Home Journal and Fit Pregnancy. She also writes advertising materials for beauty and pharmaceutical brands.
by Craig Mattes
In regard to writing stories or long form, the hardest part of writing with kids is the lack of adult inspiration that you get. I get motivated to write by movies, tv and books that make me think, make me uncomfortable or disturb me. With kids, there is just a lack of that sort of input during the day, other than the 3 paragraphs I read of a book before nodding off at night. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse just doesn’t provide the spark that I need to put something on the paper that’s truly intriguing. Show me something like Irreversible, Martyrs or even Annie Hall and I’m ready to sit at my laptop and pour my heart out—not so much with Dinosaur Train.
It was seeing Louis CK on his latest endeavor, the sitcom Louie, that got me back into taking the challenging aspects of life and attempting to turn them into humorous or interesting writing. I have Mr. CK to thank twice now, first for getting me back into comedy after I decided I had nothing of value to say, and secondly for getting me back into writing when I just couldn’t get in the mindset.
As far as comedy and joke writing goes…kids are a gold mine. I was never able to write material quickly until my two little ones arrived. Now almost every day something comes up that I think is funny and that I want to share with others from the stage. It’s a matter of approaching life with kids honestly and openly that makes comedy about kids work, and for me that’s part of the joy of being a dad. Our family is built on making each other laugh, and sometimes it just so happens that what makes us laugh as a unit works for other folks too.
by Megan Mattes
I had a rough time getting back to writing after my kids were born. I didn’t feel creative or inspired, probably because I was just too tired to think about it. Once I started back (it took me 8 months with my first and 4 months with my second), it felt liberating to use my brain in a non-baby related way. <<So what did you do?>> Besides having wine on hand? Because I’m a firm believer in drinking and writing to stimulate creativity! But seriously, I tend to think of ideas and lines at the most inopportune times—like when I’m driving or running. I started using the microphone feature on my iPhone to record my thoughts so I could come back to them later. I find that if I don’t jot them down right away I won’t remember the exact wording or idea I had in that Aha! moment.
Photo by Negative Space