Friday, December 26, 2008

Survival Tips for the Parent Slash Writer

By Heather Moore

“How do you write novels with four kids?” I’ve been asked that question many times at book signings and author events. Sometimes I coyly answer, “When I wrote my first novel, I only had three kids.”

The truth is . . . I’ve only seen one entire episode of American Idol. None of Lost and only the first episode of 24, but now that the seasons are out on DVD, maybe I’ll try to watch a couple . . . at midnight . . . or not. My laundry takes three days to do, and then it’s time to start over again.

Dinner is, well . . . lacking on most days, but I wasn’t that great of a cook before I became so obsessed.

But really, I am lucky. I don’t have to write to earn money. So why do I write when my kids are ages four through fourteen? Why don’t I use my down time to relax and watch a favorite program or catch up on several years of scrapbooking, or even my ultimate desire—read a novel without worrying about research, editing, or my daily writing goal?

Well, because I breathe easier when I write. It rounds out my identity even when I’m writing this blog and have no idea if it will ever be read by another person. I reap joy and fulfillment . . . and incredible busyness so that by ten in the morning I am left literally breathless with all the things I want to accomplish.

One day at a time. That’s survival tip number one.

2. Laptop. When you can afford this luxury (or necessity, says I), invest in a laptop. You can sit on your couch or at your kitchen table and tap a few paragraphs here and there. At the same time you are keeping a watchful eye on your preschooler. (Note: when she starts to hit the computer screen, it’s time for a break.)

3. Wireless internet. Another luxury, but it makes the laptop all that more accessible when you want to check your email every so often, or every five minutes . . . just in case that NY agent is just dying to see the remainder of your manuscript and must have it within the hour.

4. Carpet Cleaner. What? Recently while I was in the shower (not writing, so there is no guilt associated with this mishap) my four year old dumped the orange juice onto the carpet. Now, I can wipe up a mess on the tile faster than the Bounty hunk, but carpet? That could take a good twenty minutes of blotting, rinsing, blotting, spraying, scrubbing, rinsing . . . A carpet cleaner, maybe five minutes. And it’s really clean. Did I mention I have a do-it-all-herself four year old?

5. Peanut M&M’s. Now I don’t recommend buying the five pound bags at Costco, but if you are trying to save shopping trips maybe it’s all right. Pick your poison, and you’ll be surprised at how a yummy treat can help to motivate you as you write. “If I keep writing, I get to keep snacking.” Or if you are concerned about the calories, don’t read the ingredients. Worse case scenario, pop some butter-free popcorn. I thought about dedicating my next book to Peanut M&M’s . . . I still might . . . Just remember to rotate your hiding place in case your spouse gets a hankering for them too.

Oh, I just thought of number six. A good friend. Even better—a good friend with kids who are similar ages to yours. You can pick a day or two during the week and switch. This gives the kids play time and when it’s your friend’s turn . . . sacred writing time . . .

I hope this helps at least one parent in his/her writing quest. As for me, I’m taking one day at a time and keeping a bag of Peanut M&M’s in my desk drawer.


Annette Lyon said...

So true! I'm more ME when I'm writing than when I've been away from it for a while. My kids and my husband can tell.

And I finally got that necessary laptop. I have a feeling it will transform how I write!

Danette said...

I'm anxious to get back into this YA ficton that I started before the holidays but the holiday events are preventing me from doing so, I can't wait until the hype quiets down so I can get back to Ryker and his discovery's. (It's odd how these fictional character have such life! It's like we have to meet their needs too. LOL!)