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Are you writing with young children at home? Please come and talk to me!

(43 Posts)
Exhaustipated Thu 08-Aug-13 16:33:23

I am trying to write my first novel with a preschooler and a baby at home. Madness, I know, but I would love any tips/experiences/general chat with anyone who is doing this or has done this...

I have a few hours a week of daytime writing time, plus when the kids are in bed. But I'm always often exhausted by that time, so it's hard. How do others do it? Inspiring stories and moans equally welcome smile

wordfactory Thu 08-Aug-13 18:18:39

Hi OP.

My DC are now almost 14, and I have been writing for many years.

When they were little, I wrote in every snatched space that I could. Large parts of my first novel were written in soft play grin...

If you're the sort of writer who needs long quiet stints to work, having DC is hopeless and you'll have to wait til they are in school.

However, if you can become the sort of writer who will grab any time on offer and immediately work, then it can be done.

TunipTheVegedude Thu 08-Aug-13 20:47:18

I do but I can't say I wrote very seriously when I had a baby and a toddler in the house, except when they were at childcare. I did write but I mostly just wrote for myself at that point - fanfic-type sequels to favourite novels, etc. Energy wasn't really a problem because it was sheer self-indulgence. The baby-toddler combo is exceptionally draining IME, more so for me than having a baby or toddler with two older ones has been.

I agree totally with Wordfactory that you just have to stop being the sort of writer who needs long periods without interruption, or writes at a particular time. I went on a course recently where the tutor talked about the importance of finding the time when you do your best work, eg whether you're a morning person or an evening person. I sniggered a bit at that. I suspect he didn't have children. I have a fair bit of childcare now (and my kids are 3, 6 and 8) but the main thing that keeps me moving forward is seizing every damn moment when they're not actually interrupting me.

Admittedly, there are tasks which take more concentration than others and sometimes you have to focus on an easier one. It helps that I'm writing historical so I always have research to do; if the kids are being too full-on for me to get 'proper' writing done I can do something that is more amenable to interruption.

The other thing I try to do is to set a goal for the day to focus me. I am in a Facebook group of people doing blogs, PhDs, academic writing and various things, and we sometimes have a running 'motivation thread' where we talk about what we want to do that day and jolly each other along if necessary. However, you have to do that on the understanding that you won't beat yourself up if the children make it impossible, because otherwise you'll just get miserable about your frequent failure to live up to your aspiration, or even get cross with the children for making perfectly reasonable children-type demands.

Shrugged Fri 09-Aug-13 16:24:26

Writing my first novel at home with a toddler. As well as seizing every moment of nap time etc, my only other tip is that you don't necessarily have to be at your desk to write. You can plan anywhere, and I sometimes find playing with my son or out for a walk with him is a good time for the sort of slightly mindless imagining that can let a scene progress...? I take a notebook everywhere. Or take notes on my phone.

BlackAffronted Sun 11-Aug-13 19:30:16

I'm about to attempt a children's novel as well as start a college course in Social Sciences as well as mum to 3 ... madness?

Exhaustipated Wed 14-Aug-13 21:41:30

Thanks v much for the replies. Have managed quite well this week with your words in mind, grabbing my laptop for nap times, scribbling in my ever-present notebook in random places...

My biggest success has been sitting down once both kids are in bed and telling myself I'll write for half an hour and can then crash out - but once I'm into it I often carry on for longer smile

Thanks again - great to hear from people who have been there/are there - I'm up for a general chat/support thread if anyone else is...

BitScary Tue 20-Aug-13 17:26:48

I've just finished my first book. My child is 18 months and I've been working on it for her entire lifetime, and longer...

I work part-time too so I had to be very diligent. Once my morning job was over and the baby was back at home, I'd put her down for her afternoon nap and just get going on my laptop. My 'core' work - writing -has never really worked for me late at night since becoming a parent so I've just accepted that about myself for now (I may have to change this policy however if I ever have another DC!). But closer to publication I was able to edit and proofread in every snatched minute available, even late at night. So somehow it all worked out.

A toddler and a baby sounds like such a hard combination, I take my hat off to anyone who's done it. I say if you can afford a few hours of childcare for your older one, just do it, do whatever it takes. Maternal guilt is overrated, really smile Best of luck!

allbie Tue 20-Aug-13 19:57:19

Hi, Bitscary. Are you published now? What is your genre? Just lovely to hear a success!!

BitScary Tue 20-Aug-13 22:56:33

I will be soon, albie, the book is coming out shortly. But I don't think I can call myself a success just yet! Genre is the ever-wanky sounding 'lit fiction'.

GrendelsMum Wed 21-Aug-13 17:32:14

Gosh, well done, BitScary! That's hugely impressive.

May I ask what your part-time work is?

BitScary Wed 21-Aug-13 23:05:53

My day job is writing work too. Bit wary of saying more in case I out myself!

thoughtsandall Mon 26-Aug-13 19:43:50

A huge congrats to anyone who manages to write with children around, let alone get published (Hats off to you bitscary). I remember a particular piece of writing that needed to be completed for a writing course I was on and with no 'uninterrupted' writing time on the horizon I completed the work alongside bouncing my baby up and down by kicking my leg in the air and my excitable toddler clambering on my back! It's a good job we are well practised in the art of multi- tasking. Seriously though, it has become a little easier in the last year or so, although I tend to find my best ideas come in the early hours and needle away at me till I haul my tired backside out of bed and write it all down. What starts with a pen and a notebook often ends up with hours of night typing on the sofa! The thing I am struggling with at the moment is being motivated to write after the summer hols- brain is so exhausted from children and children related things that there is not much space left for creativity! Never thought I would need the routine of work to enable brain space for writing.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 27-Aug-13 08:27:04

Oh wow, you find it easier when you're working, really? I have found it so much easier since being home with the children! I look back on all those acres of free time I had in the evenings pre-kids and am kicking myself for managing to do so little in them.

BitScary Tue 27-Aug-13 13:06:30

thoughts, I thought I was bad putting the final touches to my final draft at 6.30am on deadline morning with baby TV on and DD fidgeting beside me! - but you definitely win with a toddler and a baby!

Actually I kind of know what you're saying about needing the routine back in your life - that way writing becomes another thing you have to schedule. Which can be handy. I'm not working right now and I do miss it, I don't know what to do with myself with all of this time. I'm much better when I'm very busy. Left to my own devices I can procrastinate indefinitely.

I'm enjoying talking to other mothers who write, I must say. How are you getting on, Exhaustipated? I bet that even if you're not getting any words down, you're still writing, in a way? Having children and new babies in particular is just so mind-altering that surely the experiences of each day are being laid down somewhere, ready to be mined at a later date...At least, that's what I used to tell myself when I was up breastfeeding a baby in the early hours while the rest of the world slept grin

thoughtsandall Tue 27-Aug-13 22:11:08

I agree with you about being busy, scary. I always seem to get more done when I'm firing on all cylinders. I would definitely love some time in the day to write though and after 6 years with children keeping me company on my days off- it is coming my way! With the children back to school and me back to work part time I will get two whole afternoons a week to myself. I have decided that the housework can wait, the family can survive on the food that is already in the house and the stairs definitely don't need painting till next summer- no- those two afternoons will be for me to write (or at least think about writing) for 3 whole hours. I can't wait! We will be procrastinating together.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 28-Aug-13 08:19:28

DEFINITELY make those two afternoons into sacred writing time! grin

carriemajimuku Thu 05-Sep-13 14:42:38

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Paperbird Sat 28-Sep-13 14:30:03

Hi exhaustipated and everyone, I'll gladly join your thread as am trying to write with three under-5. Youngest DC is 2 months old and luckily sleeps a lot, but I am left with more time to think than to write! At the moment I am I'm 25k words into a chicklit novel and the progress are slow.
The little typing-time I have it feels like a race against time to write as much as I can... until the next disruption.
At this pace there is not a chance for my novel to be completed in the next three years but I'm happy with that. Most importantly I'm doing something for me, I enjoy writing a lot and that keep me sane, iyswim.
When all DC are at school and pre-school, and if the story is worth it, I will contemplate publishing and do all the long, hard work that it requires.
Best of luck with your project. What is it and how far are you?

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 19-Nov-13 15:15:52

I'll join your support thread! DC are 5&2 but in USA where school doesn't start til 5yo. I can definately carve the time out to write - even if it's just half an hour a day, but the motivation thanks to sleep deprivation is the killer. I know I can't write do anything vaguely productive in the evenings so need to create time in the day

BitScary Wed 20-Nov-13 13:08:28

Hello again. Well, the book is out in the world now and I'm trying to keep my head down and get working on some new bits and pieces. I am back working at the day job too and of course now the balance is the other way -- I feel more tied to that.

Sometimes, though, I think the biggest obstacle for me to overcome is not that of DC or day job: it is that of a laziness prompted, I think, by the 'who cares' factor. I only have one DC and if I try I can find the time to write. Finding a way to be disciplined or to push myself is harder. There are so many things housework that 'need' doing. It can be hard to convince myself that the writing 'needs' doing. So I think that this laziness or hesitation also stems from a lack of self confidence


something that is IME so linked to women writers, perhaps women writers with small children in particular.

Not sure what I'm trying to say, really...Acknowledging all this is helpful, though!

DrinkFeckArseGirls Wed 20-Nov-13 13:43:01

Hi, I'm Drink and I'm writing my first sit-com with a toddler. grin Tbh honest I use the time when she's at the nursery and I am, erm, working. Self-employed though so not ripping anyone's time off.

BitScary Wed 20-Nov-13 13:47:34

Oh that sounds cool, Drink. Have you been writing long?

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 20-Nov-13 13:55:25

I find I can turn the lack of confidence round so it's a driver, BitScary. I always assume everyone else is more talented than me so I need to work harder.
Then if I'm wrong, no harm done!

BitScary Wed 20-Nov-13 20:54:25

I know what you mean Tunip.

Ah yes there's nothing doing for the self-confidence thing only to just get over oneself and get going!

Does anybody do the getting up early to write thing? I love it anytime I do it, but just getting out of bed on these wintry mornings is tough. Must try harder.

BigPawsBrown Wed 20-Nov-13 23:23:36

I don't have young children but I am a busy lawyer... My first novel failed over the summer to get an agent after many full requests but I'm amazed one seems to want to mentor me writing another book, so that's what I'm doing. I prefer to set a word count goal every day as if I say I'll write for an hour I often just sit there. Trying to do 800-1000 words every day; currently at 4,490 of the first draft. Long road ahead!

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