Monday 8 August 2011

A new way of writing

So last week I had my first foster placement, a three year old with a huge amount of energy and a love of chatter. We had her for a week, and I loved it. When she went at the end of the week I missed her, the house seems unbelievably quiet. But the week made me realise something that all of you who are parents already realise: writing with children is tough.

It shouldn't have been too difficult, after all I have a month off from my journalism job which frees up around two hours in the working day for me. My plan was to look after the girlie in the day, and do a couple of hours writing in the evening. This did not happen. I looked after girlie, put her to bed, and was exhausted. It was all I could do to slump in front of the television in the evening, and even this required propping myself up with a double shot Americano. Twelve hours of complete responsibility for a three year old left my brain unable to process anything much more complicated than the plot of a Peppa Pig episode.

Yet I know that it's possible. I follow many blogs of writers who juggle not just parenthood and writing, but full-time jobs,  part-time jobs, volunteer work, academic study, etc. And, if I'd had time, I could have gone to their blogs and picked up a few tips. But my commitment to blogs, both my own and those of others, also suffered a knock last week.

Next time I'll hopefully be more prepared. My new plan is to make notes on scenes and characters as they occur to me throughout the day and then write them up in the evening. That way I have a framework which will hopefully stop me staring blankly at the flashing i-bar ready to fall asleep.

What about you all? Have you any special tips for juggling busy lives with consistent word count? Any and all help gratefully received.

Oh yeah, and sorry for being so flaky for the past week.


  1. There's something about having kids to looka fter that leaves you unable to function even when they've gone to sleep. You could be writing, or reading or even watching tv, and yet you find yourself sat staring at a wall.

    Moody Writing

  2. The only time I can write is when my 9-yr-old is at school and my 4-yr-old at preschool, which is about 4 hours a week. I can't write if I know that my daughter's just around the corner just waiting to interrupt me. It is hard! I'm counting down the days for my kids to go off to school again!

  3. I've spent many long evenings watching my little siblings and they wear you out. It does make writing difficult, but I bet you will get the hang of it someday. I'm glad that you enjoyed your time with the little girlie. :) It's also nice to have you back blogging.

  4. I try (not always successfully) to balance a full time job, 2 preschool age boys, family obligations, and all those other things that make life what we know it. Writing does take a knock when the other things heat up, despite my efforts to schedule dedicated time for it (usually when everyone else is sleeping!) There's not enough hours in the day! I so admire you taking the time to bring a child into your home, though. It'll change you, make you see life in a completely different way.

  5. You have to get organized. Strategize time for work, and get rest just before that.

  6. I imagine it is very hard to write and take care of small children. I was wondering how the placement was going for you. I am so glad you had an enjoyable time with the little one. Good luck with writing this week!!


  7. What a great gift to give to foster a child!

    But it takes a lot of organization. I have my own schedule for writing. After my daughter is finally tucked into bed I have to race through chores to get to the point where I can write. And sometimes, the chores are just skipped entirely.

  8. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I'm sure the atmosphere is completely different than what you are used to while writing, but I hope you enjoyed it. :)

  9. Christine--I gave you a little award today--stop by my blog to check it out!

  10. I have friends with kids who write, but the time periods definitely suffer. A lot of them write at work or write down tidbits like you said. It takes a ton of focus. Nice blog, btw. <3 a new follower

  11. Hi Christine,

    My name's Kate, and I'm a newly-agented YA author from Utah. I just wandered across your blog and I thought I'd say hi! I love this post...I'm always amazed by writers who can juggle so many obligations. Personally, I try to outline extensively before starting my stories so I can prevent writers block. That way, my brief writing periods are more productive.

    Looking forward to more of your posts!

  12. @Mooderino: That's exactly it. With a bit of hair and make-up (maybe not so much, now that I think about it) I could have passed for an extra in a zombie movie by the end of the day.
    @Jeana: It's really hard, I appreciate that now. And then you feel so guilty for wanting them to fall asleep so you can write!
    @Krista: Thank you! You're a sweetheart.
    @Julie: I'm in awe of how you manage to juggle everything that you need to. Seriously in awe.
    @Catherine: I know that logically, but the follow through isn't my strong point!
    @Heather: Thank you, I really enjoyed it!
    @Caitlin: Glad I'm not the only one who skips the chores! Creativity before cleanliness, eh?
    @Alleged: It was completely different! But lovely in the most exhausting way you can imagine.
    @Kelley: Thanks for stopping by! Organisation is definitely the key, and if only organisation was my strong point then I'd be sorted!
    @Kate:Thank you! Nice to meet you, and congratulations on getting an agent!