Just the other day I was passing along tips to some writing class students who have school-age children and were explaining (that is, complaining) how little time this leaves them to write. Then today I came across this tough-love guest post, by Louise DeSalvo, over on my friend Christina Baker Kline’s excellent writing-advice blog. If you write and have kids, please go read DeSalvo’s post. To her advice, I’ll just add a few of my own tips; some are different, and some amplify what she advises:
NO (more) volunteering for school activities that take more than an hour or two a month. Or how about just: NO.
Accept that you will have a dirtier (or at least a messier) house than you probably would like – OR hire someone to clean it.
Write anywhere. A lot of my stuff has been rough-drafted on the bleachers at baseball games, in the car waiting for kids to finish up at an activity, on the patio while the kids (when little) were playing nearby, even in the ladies room at insufferably long school and family functions!
Decide what you can slice out of your mom life in order to get a writing life. Five years ago, when my youngest was in first grade, I decided I could do without the daily chats with other moms while waiting for our kids at pick-up time after school. I still had to arrive 15 minutes before the bell rang to get a parking space, but I decided to sit in my car and write – bingo, an extra hour or so a week.
As DeSalvo says, ALWAYS call it "work." I realized this important distinction when asking a non-writing relative to watch the kids; and get the kids used to that terminology too. Mom’s working. Period.
Break free of the idea that you always have to write...at the keyboard, in your office, seated in that great armchair, with your favorite pen.
Get a writing accountability buddy – another parent writer who will exchange daily emails consisting of just one line about how many words or pages you each wrote that day; no venting allowed.
Now - what are you still doing here?