Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mom Writers (Revisited)

Being a mother means we must assume nearly 32 other professions all rolled into one…..For free.
We all know the stories about how JK Rowling wrote most of Harry Potter while her baby napped in an out of the way café. Or about how Stephanie Meyer spent one summer writing every spare minute while trying to balance her children and family time. The point is, it CAN be done.
But being a mother and ANYTHING else is always difficult to manage, never mind trying to write entire books and get them out there. Yet here I am, along with thousands of other aspiring writers who are also full time moms. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way that have helped me find the time to devote to writing.

Type Fast. I’m not kidding. It’s gotten to the point where I type almost as fast as I speak and my fingers continue to finish phrases long after my mind has taken a break to mentally calculate how many seconds I have before my daughter pushes that milk cup off the table.

Write While the Children Sleep. I love how everyone assumes that just because my children are asleep, it’s free time for mommy. Sure, I’ll write when they’re asleep. I’m not an idiot. But free time doesn’t come until AFTER I’ve finished cleaning up dinner, dishes, and laundry. Which brings me to my next tip-

Brainstorm During Mundane Chores I hate doing dishes. Hate it hate it hate it. But the one thing that I did look forward to was those fifteen minutes where I’ve got nothing to do but think. Some of my best plot turns and character traits came to me while I was folding clothes or scrubbing pots and pans. 

Invest in a Laptop This has been a lifesaver for me. I can bring it out in the back yard while the kids play, type away on the couch during their morning cartoons. Wherever they are, I am, only one problem-

Don’t Forget to Play with Your Kids- Sure, you’ve fed and clothed them and they’re reasonably clean. But how much time have you spent interacting or playing with them? I find that when I’m really deep into the story line, my mind is constantly wandering back to it and I forget that my kids don’t just need me to be there, they need me to BE THERE. And so I try and strip my mind and spirit back out of the computer screen and focus on my kids until they get bored with me. (They always do)

If I find that I haven’t done this enough some days, I ask the girls to help me with supper, or help me clean their room or fold laundry. They love spending time doing it with me, feel ‘grown up’, and probably won’t realize we’re doing chores until they’ve reached early teens. Who knows how long I’ll be able to keep this tactic up but for now, it works.

Any other tips for writing moms who are strapped for time?

*CQG*

35 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I guess it's to realize that family truly does come first. But there's no reason why kids can't have alone play time without Mommy entertaining them all the time. And to realize that a little bit every day goes a long way - even though it doesn't feel like it. :)

Angela Felsted said...

Don't forget to Play with Your Kids . . . yep, that's a hard one. I'd love to say I'm supermom but if I'm honest, the TV does way too much babysitting for me.

Sarah said...

For me, it's hardest to BE PRESENT. So I really like your point about playing with the kids! I always remind myself they won't always be interested in spending so much time with me, so I'd better take advantage now!

Marisa Hopkins said...

Great post!! I have two little girlies, and finding the balance between writer and mom is often tough, but definitely doable.

My youngest (age 4) LOVES computer games, so we do a computer swap - if she lets me get about an hour of work while she plays quietly by herself, then I'll give her a half hour of educational computer games all to herself. She calls it her 'work' and it always gives me yet another half hour to work in my book (usually on paper or brainstorming as I stare at walls)

Christine Fonseca said...

Yea, being a busy working mom ad a writer has been a never-ending lesson in balance. I finally had to come to terms with the fact that I can't do it all (dang it), and give myself permission to pull back on some things!

Anne Gallagher said...

Now she's in school, I'm much better at being present, because that job starts at 2:30. When she was a baby, I wrote with pen and paper so it was sort of easier. I could walk away from it without having to turn anything on or off, had no social media distractions.

And that's funny, I have no problem getting up from my WIP, it's getting up from blogging that irritates me.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm really bad at the last one. But everytime I plan to play with my kids, they're all busy playing nicely together (which doesn't happen very often). I hate to interrupt this (because the behavior is rare), so I keep writing . . . unless I get bored and start to demand attention. ;)

Liz Fichera said...

You are doing everything right, especially the "playing with your kids" part. Too often I see parents on their cell phones when they could be interacting with their kids. Unfortunately there will come a year/time when they won't want anything to do with you. Then it's too late.

I'm with you--I get some of my best ideas when I'm cleaning my house!

mshatch said...

I have a boy, long grown up, but I still loved this post. Beautifully said.

Karen Lange said...

Love the list! Great tips. I always carry a notebook and pen with me. That way if I am waiting during appointments, etc. I can get ideas down or work on something.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Great post. My only kidlet is off to college this fall, but for the past 6 years I've been writing and homeschooling. Write when you can sneak time - even if it means missing your favorite TV show because that hour when the kid(s) are sleeping might be the only hour you have to yourself all day. And learn to write with interruptions. Life doesn't pause because we're in the zone.

Misha said...

Some great tips! I can't imagine how tricky it can be to get everything done while being a mommy.

Good luck!

:-)

Candyland said...

I write things on my hand sometimes when we're out and I get an idea. Or I just forget completely. It's either a complete win or fail for me.

Slamdunk said...

Wonderful post CQG.

Naptime for us was more of a mirage--one had high hopes that the kids would be asleep for 2 hours, but they may not go to sleep or wake up early and thereby killing mom or dad's plans for productivity.

I like your tips and would just add to carry something to write with everywhere you go (electronic gadget would work as well). Even if inspiration strikes during a diaper change, being able to write a keyword down immediately is a lifesaver.

Old Kitty said...

I'm in AWE!! Wow!!! Well done you fab writing mums!! Yay!! Take care
x

Janet Johnson said...

Great tips! And I appreciate that last one. Is it horrible that I have to schedule time so I don't allow my mind to wander back to my books. It needs to be their time. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome tips - I use every one of them! To be a mom writer, you have to! I type faster now then I ever have before. I used to be able to write 1K an hour, now I average 2K. As for the laptop, I just bought myself a netbook specifically. I plan to use it some while the kids play in our backyard this summer. I can't wait for it to arrive - it's supposed to come on Friday!

Charcoal Renderings said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog. Your down-to-earth style and humor are delightful, and it's nice to get the perspective of a fellow writer/artist making it work while having it all with family life too. Gives me something to look forward to! :-D Have a lovely day.

Tamara Narayan said...

Your life and mine sound a lot alike. I only allow TV in the morning and after that, I'm on call for games, reading, refereeing fights, getting out paint, arranging playdates, and on and on. By the time they're in bed, I'm too tired to be creative. Writing happens when they're at school.

So the only tip I can add to this wonderful post is to find some kids in the neighborhood and set up playdates. The ones that occur at other homes make good blocks of writing time. The ones that occur at your home might work too if the kids are old enough to play without constant supervision.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this post, Katie, and that comic is priceless!! :-)

Anita said...

My son likes to play in the tub, so about once/wk, I fill the tub with toys and sit next to Boy while he plays in there...I bring my laptop and type away.

WritersBlockNZ said...

As a soon-to-be mother, this was really helpful. Thanks!

Lindsay said...

Great tips.

Not having kids means I get plenty of writing time, but i do like to take time off to play with my goddaughter. But if I get an idea the iPhone notepad comes out and I type quickly. LOL.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm not a mom, but I admire moms who find time to write!

Vicki Rocho said...

Excellent! The last one is hard--we get so little free time, it's hard to give what little we have to play with the kidlings. Needs to be done, we can't ignore the little darlings, but it's hard to give up the 'me' time.

Kate said...

Oh boy can I relate to that!

Talli Roland said...

Which I could help, but I have no children -- for now...

Caitlin said...

Loved this! I definitely do a lot of brainstorming during mundane chores. Earlier I was vacuuming the couch (3 couches, totally necessary) and thinking out the details of the scene that I'm currently working on.

I also schedule some of my writing time. If I stay home with my daughter so that my husband can work, he can return the favor, haha.

Ms. Tale-to-tell said...

Completely agree on the balance thing.

All I could add is that I enlist my husband's help around the house. It's not like just because I'm home with the kids all day I'm not working. (With kids we're running around doing stuff all day!) Everyone pitches in for chores who lives here, not just Mom and thus freeing me up for more chances to write! :)

LTM said...

UGH! This is so hard, Katie. You're so right. And the playing with the kids--time goes so FAST in this business while we're waiting for the incredibly slow stuff to happen... I'm afraid I'll look up and the girls are leaving for college and I'm still waiting to hear back from editors!

*sigh*

But as for a tip, I keep a little notebook in my purse for sudden ideas. And I try not to hit pedestrians when I whip it out to write something down while driving... .LOL! :D

Kagemusha said...

Love--absolutely--love your blog. I am a stay-at-home father, former professional cellist, English lit teacher and writer... my daughter is only 5 months old, but the demands pile up and I find myself waking up at 5 AM (normally) to go run a few miles, take a shower and write until 9 AM which is when my home duties begin... I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY NEW LIFE!!!! Oh, and yes... I write after she goes to sleep.

Shannon Lawrence said...

So true! I have also been working on the "playing with them" rule. I've been so intent on figuring out how to get the time to write that I realized I wasn't spending as much time with them as I should. It's a balancing act, to be sure. I also love that I can take the laptop outside with me so they can play safely and I can write. I have some manner of pen and paper with me wherever I go, and I've found I get an hour of uninterrupted note-taking and short story writing done while my daughter is at gymnastics once per week.

erica and christy said...

Mothering full-time, teaching full-time, sleeping part-time, eating when possible - now you tell me I have to play, too? :P

I have no advice. *sigh* But I did become more prolific once I got my laptop - there's a reason Harry Potter movies are so long and kids enjoy watching them (while I pretend to). Good luck everyone!
erica

Nicole L Rivera said...

Saving this post for future mommyhood. :)

Stephanie said...

GREAT post! I love it. My first baby is due next month and I'm so curious to see how things really pan out. It sounds nice in principle to think you'll get things done "while they're napping" but I've been suspicious that it'll be that easy :)

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