Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How to write (and raise two small children)

Today is insecure writer’s support group day, so I thought I’d write something that will (hopefully) help writers and mothers alike.  Like any mom and writer, I struggle with feelings of inadequacy.  I feel like I’m either neglecting my writing or my children or both.  Nevertheless, I have been doing this a while and I have some tips to share that might help other writers and/or mothers in my situation.  (These tips are in no particular order).

Tip # 1  Use indoor playgrounds as your office.  I watch for coupons for these places because I have neither the desire nor the funds to pay full price.  The kids have fun, get exercise, and require minimal supervision because there are no roads to run into or creepy men who came without a child. Most indoor playgrounds have WiFi, which is unfortunate for those of us who find the web a distraction.  Also when it gets busy, it gets loud.  The morning is the best time to go for low crowds.  Anyway, even writing with a little background noise is better than hearing “Mommy” every five minutes.

Tip # 2.  Let things slide.  Chores that will not get done when I’m on a good streak with my writing include (but are not limited to): laundry, dishes, general tidying, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, walking the dog, washing my hair, washing my children.  If you’re worried about visitors, know that no one will disown you if you have a messy house (at least, no one important).  Children, of course, do need love and attention (and food) but they will whine when they are not getting enough, so there’s no need to worry.

Tip # 3.  TV is not evil.  If you’ve ever sat down and watched television for preschoolers you know that it is educational to the point of being vomit-inducing.  Through schmarmy plots about love and friendship they are learning about science, reading, math, geography, history.  You name it.  And they do retain the information.  If you don’t believe me, have a conversation with my four-year-old. When I don’t have the money or energy for indoor play places, the tube helps me get my quota.

Tip #4. Remember that it is good for your children to see you doing things for yourself.  I do not want my kids (particularly my daughter) to grow up thinking that they have to put everyone else before themselves.  I want them to follow their dreams, and do what makes them passionate.  The best way to do this is to lead by example.

Tip # 5.  Have a writing quota.  And make it fairly small.  My quota is 500 words.  If I kill myself I can make it.  A lot of writers  have quotas of 1000 or even 2000.  Well La Tee Da.  Those writers don’t have small children to take care of.

Tip # 6. Make a “Winner List” and a “Super Star List”.  This one I borrowed from Margie Lawson. A winner list is for things you must get done today (make it small and achievable) and the super star list is for things you would like to get done if you have time.  I don’t always keep up with this, but when I do it really helps.

Tip #7.  Write a sentence at a time.  Including thinking and typing, it takes me about two hours to get my quota.  I don’t always have two hours at a stretch, so sometimes I take ten minutes and write a sentence (sometimes even half a sentence) whenever I get the chance. Sometimes, I find I have more time than I thought I did and I get an hour when I thought I only had ten minutes. (More often it works the other way around).

Tip #8.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This is the hardest thing of all.  I read over the first three tips and thought “I sound like the worst mother in the world.”   I feel guilty when my laptop sits unopened for three days, and even guiltier when I get my writing done while the offspring enjoy their third viewing of Ratatouille. I write for myself, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about not doing it.  I need to do things for myself, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it either. (Neither should you).

Peruse the links below for more insecure writers writing about their struggles.


Caitlin said...

Thanks for these tips! I sometimes still struggle with the balance between writing and being a mom.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are great! I am grateful I don't have to balance kids with everything else and don't know how some of you do it.
Thanks for joining the support group!

The Blogger Girlz said...

I came across a link to your blog at Marlene's blog and I wanted to stop by and introduce myself.

Best of luck with your writing and your little ones.


alberta ross said...

don't have a young family so can't comment on these tips except to say the daily goals should be do-able for ones own restrictions, for instance in a short while my sisters new guide dog will be arriving so my do-able goals will plummet as I will have to be there to support her (tis very tiring and she approaches 70!) and pick up the slack as we divide chores equally in this house - life and its inhabitants are so much more important than writing (heresy?)

I did like your idea of the playcentres wish I had thought of that when looking after small children

Ann said...

I love your tips. I have one daughter (& 3 sons) and tried to instill her the very thing....her needs were just as important as anyone elses.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am thrilled to meet you!

Jeremy Bates said...

great tips!
i dont have kids to take up my time... thats done by social media X_X


"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

-Steve Jobs

Super Happy Jen said...

I was only a matter of time before someone quoted Steve Jobs. :)

S. L. Hennessy said...

Hey, new follower and fellow insecure writer here. I have to say, sometimes the only thing that gets me through is the "write one sentence at a time" mantra. It's OVERWHELMING how long a whole novel can be. I have to remember to write just a little at a time or I'll quit before I get more than a page.
Great advice! I'm so glad I stopped by!

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