Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mom's Who Write (or Try To)

When I started writing, my children were already in school. All four of them. So I truly admire those mommies who write with babes and toddlers underfoot. It can't be easy, but then the first things moms learn is that nothing great comes easily. A fully-grown, productive adult takes eighteen years of nurturing, feeding, cajoling, disciplining, and teaching. We know a great book, witty blog, or publishable article should take no less than our blood, sweat, and tears. Right?

The tricky part is balancing the two. How does one write the next great novel, while parenting ever-needy little ones. Sure, I could write when the kids were in school and I wasn't doing laundry, running errands, or helping in the classroom. But what about summer? What's a mommy writer to do?

I haven't finished figuring that one out, yet, but I'll share what I've learned.

Things I've learned about writing while mothering:
  • Figure out when I write best. For me that's early morning. I'm most prolific and creative in the early hours, whereas my afternoon and evening, well, not so much. If I write at night, I'm lucky to hit half the word count I'd hit during the same time allotment in the morning. Use your writer's clock to its full advantage. Thirty minutes during your best writer's time may produce twice as much as smooshing an hour into any old time.
  • Use the kiddo's schedule to my advantage. That hour I'd sit in the bleachers during soccer/baseball/swim practice became mine when I brought my writing or reading or marketing materials with me and work while they practiced. (Don't forget to look up and holler encouragements to your little ones from time to time. I've been busted on that one more than once.) Got little ones with you? I've even give my younger kiddos extra paper to doodle on while I worked. Mom's are the queens of multi-tasking after all.
  • Use a voice device like Dragon to tell your computer your story. I haven't tried this one yet, but I hear good things. Most of us speak faster than we type. A talking device may speed up your writing process. (Then again, these devices take time to train and there are editing needs that come along with them, so this may or may not be a good solution. I'd love to hear what others think --comments, please:) )
  • Close down all social networks (including my phone) while I write. I'm so easily distracted. I'll sit down, open my work-in-progress and intend to write for an hour. But I have to check email, then Facebook, then that twitter chime dings...before I know it, the hour is gone and I've written 300 words. Wait I just got a text...Ugh, see what I mean? Minimal distraction can ramp up my actual writing time.
  • Write with my children. I discovered this trick during that first summer. Engaging my youngest two children in the plotting process for The Wishing Ring sparked their writing bug AND it helped them understand Mommy's writing had value...since they contributed to it. :) They were more apt to let me write in peace if I was working on our joint venture or they were engaged in writing, themselves.
  • For those who can, get help. I bribed my older daughter with gas money or cash as often as I could. She'd take the younger ones to Walgreens for an hour and that time turned golden. Hire a sitter, trade babysitting privileges with another author, or beg your significant other. Alone time is hard for any mom to find, and essential for the writing mom. The investment in YOU time will fuel you and your writing. Even if it's only once a week.
It's not much, but those tactics have helped me stay on track. I'd love to hear what works for you. How do you keep writing with children at home?


Lisa Forget said...

Great tips Shellie! I love involving my girls (and sometimes their friends) in brain-storming.They enjoy taking part in the creative process and I benefit by their input! Win-win :)

Paruparo said...

Great time-saving tactics (not a mom, and shouldn't be at my age. lol) although can't say I'm a fan of Dragon for writing. I have it on my iPad, and it's just too much editing. If it "hears" something wrong, you might not be able to decode it when you edit (happened to me)and it feels wierd to take a long pause to think of way to say rather than stopping your fingers for a few moments to think of what to type. Plus if there's noise....oy.

Shellie said...

Lisa, first--your name is way fun. Second, I totally agree. Young imaginations are boundless which makes their plot twists so much fun.

Enita, I've heard the same issues from other folks. On paper, a voice program sounds ideal. Maybe they'll work the bugs out someday:).

Just heard a new one recently...a slumber party/book club (for girls, don't know if boys would be game for this, mine would not have been, but???) The girls talk about books they've all read while Mom gets to listen into the interests of the young mind. Awesome research tool for the MG/YA author. Might have to try that one:). :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great ideas. Thanks, Shellie. I wrote my first novel at night when my sons were sleeping, on weekends when they were outside playing, and early in the morning when they were watching cartoons. It's amazing what you'll do when you're passionate about something.

Shellie said...

Spot-on, Joylene. It's all about the passion:)