Parenting While Writing

Every couple of weeks or so, I decide it’s okay if I sleep in for a bit. Usually it’s a weekend, and I don’t have any appointments, so I’ll just sleep until 7 or 8, and then I’ll get up and write, right?

This is always a mistake.

Why? Because children. (Yes, that’s a complete sentence, Bloggess-approved, stop correcting my grammar. Why is my house a mess? Because children. Why aren’t my teeth brushed? Because children. Why are my boobs saggy? Yes, because children. It’s a very handy sentence.)

Why is sleeping in a bad idea? Because children.

By 7 o’clock, often much earlier, the first of my little ones is awake. Usually the littlest, who is 5, and completely insatiable in his curiosity and hunger for attention. Curiosity is a beautiful thing, delightful in a child when you don’t live with that child. Then it is torture.


“I’m working.”

“Oh. Can you go outside with me?”

“No. I’m working.”

“Awww. Please? I need somebody to come outside with me.”

“Baby. I’m working. Go somewhere else.”

Five minutes later.

“Mommy? Can I have some gum?”

“No. I’m working.”

“Can I play with your phone?”

“Whatever. Just go away.”

“What’s your passcode?”

“Here, let me do that.”

“Where do I go for free games?”

“If I get you to the free games, will you leave me alone?”


“Okay, there. Just pick what you want and hit download, okay?”

“Okay. What does this one say?”


Needless to say, this is not conducive to flow. And I wish I knew a way around it that does not involve either getting up at 5am or abandoning them at the pound. Five am is really early and the pound doesn’t accept human children. I am just in awe of authors like Lev Grossman, who just had a baby and nevertheless is plugging on with his book in small batches (check his blog, please, but don’t get too uppity and start posting comments, because then mine might get lost in the jungle. Right now there are only 10 comments on his latest entry. If you haven’t read his books, read those too. Best-selling author and all).

I suppose you could argue that an hour a day qualifies as small batch writing, but I think of an uninterrupted hour as long long batch writing. Because children.

When I get up at 6 or, better, 5, I can usually get this uninterrupted hour of flow. Beautiful. Otherwise, it’s miniscule batch writing for me.

So here I am yesterday morning. Everett has finally settled on a phone game, glorious silence, I’m a terrible parent but at least I get to write. Five minutes later the 9-year-old is up.



“Hi baby.” Hugs.

“I’m working, okay? So… just… you know. Let me work?”



Sigh. “What?”

“What do you have to get to get a blog?”

“What do you mean?”

“If … how do you get, if you had to have something… like, you know how… it’s um, it’s um, it’s like Elihead on, well what would it be if you made a different one. ”

“If you made another blog?”


“It would be”

“Ooohhh. Can we work on my blog today? And we haven’t written in my book in a long time. Can we do that today?”

Ya know. Maybe I’m not such a terrible parent after all.

Check Eli’s Mythical World here. And his novel in bookstores someday. Why check out his blog? Because children.

 How do you write while parenting?

9 thoughts on “Parenting While Writing

  1. Heather – I’ve read your last couple posts and can so relate. I’ve been working on a novel for the past year, and was doing great when the kids were in school, but summer is KILLING me. It’s okay to let them have free reign of the house for an hour…eat whatever you want, paint whatever you want, download whatever you want…it makes them more independent and creative!!

    • Ain’t that the truth! We homeschool so… it’s both good and bad. Bad is, the kids are home all day every day. Good is, we have someone come in to help and in the summer, we actually have more help, because all the neighborhood teens are on summer break. We also have a not-at-home office, but I do have to make a living, so I reserve office time for work. Except right now. I guess I do allow some bleed-over, but I *try* to keep this time sacred so I can continue to reap the benefits of working for myself.

      And I totally hear you on letting them do whatever they want etc. We do that most days, actually, and I agree it’s good for them. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand that “do whatever you want” means “as long as it doesn’t involve me.” Also, the clean-up sessions after all day of “whatever you want” are pretty epic. And by “epic” I mean suck-tacular.

  2. Pingback: Pain and Passion and Blocking | Writer for Life

    • Thanks, Julie! That’s a good read, very interesting! Lucky for me, or unlucky for me, I don’t know, I don’t depend on writing my novel at all for a living–though that sure would be nice eventually. The unlucky part is, I have work to go to on top of writing. Which means less time for the kids. The lucky part is, I’m not even trying to scramble to earn anything with it. I can give it that one sacred hour, and call it good for the day. Problems arise when A) The kids decide 5am is a beautiful time to get up and spend alone time with Mommy or B) Mommy decides 5am is a beautiful time to stay in bed and come back to writing later… after the kids are up.

      Thanks for the link–I enjoyed that.

  3. Pingback: Writing While Parenting: Part Two | Writer for Life

    • Why is that? Easier to write in small batches? Because children are such wonderful sources for poetic inspiration? Oh, and hi! :) I’d love to hear more about the poet side of life.

  4. Pingback: My 14-Step Process to Writing a Great YA Novel (Or Writing While Parenting Part Four) ¶ Writer for Life

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