Author Topic: Writing with kids?  (Read 2938 times)


  • Palmer
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on: April 13, 2007, 06:55:26 PM
So I'm sitting here with my beautiful, three-week-old daughter sleeping next to me. She's just started to grunt and stretch in the way that tells me she'll soon wake and want to nurse again. (And again, and again, and again...)

Of course I'm not worried that I haven't written in these weeks (showering is a big enough challenge) but I do wonder about the future. I know there are a lot of parent-writers out there. What are your techniques?  How has it changed for different ages? How have the little larval-humans inspired you?   

I'd also like to hear from people who work around other time, brain and energy absorbers -- and from everyone. How do you write?

Rachel Swirsky

  • Hipparch
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Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 10:23:00 PM
Oooh, I'm going to get hautdesert over here to answer, cuz I can't. ;)


  • Editor
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Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 10:49:29 PM
I found it really, really hard to write when the kiddos were infants.  They would not neccesarily sleep at convenient times, or for convenient lengths of time.  I did find that having an internet connection and reading posts by people helped me feel a great deal less isolated, and I could easily surf while nursing.

When my son was about a year old, I had a good setup--my husband worked nights, so I could drop my daughter off at school, and then about ten thirty or so I could lay my son down for a nap next to daddy, and leave the house with a laptop and write for two hours, come home, fix lunch, see daddy off to work and go pick up daughter at school.  This stopped working when I came home several times to find my son playing happily in the living room and daddy still fast asleep.  Then my husband's schedule changed, and so I found a pre-school conveniently near a Starbucks.  Drop son off at nine, go down the block, write, pick son up at worked very well.

I highly recommend working out a schedule with Damon, one that gives you regular writing hours.  Beatrix's nursing will taper off in a while, trust me.  I know right now you feel like Baby's 24 Hour All-U-Can-Eat, but she'll get to where there are whole hours between meals! ;)  But one of the really hardest things, I found, was just taking time out to write.  It's hard for me to just grab time here and there, and there's always stuff that needs doing, always soemthing that will take up your time. 

As the kids have gotten older, it's become much easier.  The "Do Not Disturb" sign on my office door actually works...mostly.  I don't have the time when the kids are at school to write--I decided to work in the school cafeteria to bring some regular money in.  But if you're doing fine on Damon's income, write when the kids are at school!  But I can also write while they're playing, sometimes, because they're much better at amusing themselves safely for longer periods of time.

Even so, I find that removing myself to a nearby library or coffee house can do wonders for my productivity, and I highly recommend that you take a few off-site writing trips a month.

And the schedule.  Work out your schedule.  It's too easy to say "Oh, I'll do dishes right now, I can write some tomorrow!" day after day after....

Good luck!


  • Palmer
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Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 08:21:33 PM
Hautdesert, I'm going to copy this into my writing advice file. It's a very nice history and breakdown.

I'm very lucky to have a great deal of support, and not just an attentive husband. I have parents and in-laws who're happy to help and in town. My close friends have also been encouraging and generous. I should be able to schedule time as soon as my girl is ready to give it to me.

One good thing is that my writing thrives on schedules even when my life doesn't require them. When I make myself, I always find untapped reserves of energy and imagination. When ever I'm fit and rested, with grand inspiration and a free day stretching before me, then my writing is doomed by my own insouciance.   


  • Hipparch
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Reply #4 on: April 16, 2007, 07:03:07 AM
I'm a father of a (as of yesterday) one-year-old.

It's good that you have that support network.  We moved to the other side of the world to be close to my wife's family.   But it's only been the past few months or so when our daughter as been comfortable with anyone besides her mother.  My wife even has to use the bathroom with the door open.  I don't think this is particularly unusual, but if you let your relatives spend a lot of time with the baby, your baby will be more comfortable with them sooner, and they can help more.  Though if you are like we were, it's hard to let people intrude into the new little family you just worked so hard to make.

And the schedule.  Work out your schedule.  It's too easy to say "Oh, I'll do dishes right now, I can write some tomorrow!" day after day after....
This is a good point.  I struggle with deciding what I'm supposed to sacrifice for writing time.  Time with my wife?  Time with the baby?  Time helping with the housework?  Time working?  (most tempting choice, but least likely)  But I think sometimes you have put writing on the same level as those things, and not do something necessary so that you can get out a page or two.    However, you should probably just give yourself a pass while you have an infant, otherwise you'll just stress yourself out with how little you're writing. 

What we do:
While my wife puts the baby to bed at around 8:00, I do the dishes and toss all the toys in the toy baskets.  When the baby's asleep, my wife has about two hours before she goes to bed that she spends blogging.  Of course, I spend that time drinking beer and watching TV writing.

Weekends are tough because,after a week of work, I'm primed to stay home and drink beer and watch TV write.  But Wife has been cooped up all week and she wants to go out.  So we go out.  But on the days when we do stay home, I've offered to watch the baby for a few hours, and let her go do her thing.  Because she is a nice person, she has reciprocated, so we take breaks.  It's funny how we used to spend all day lying in bed watching Battlestar Galactica, and now just thirty minutes alone at Starbucks is heaven.

When our kid was about 9 months I found that, while she wouldn't tolerate being in the house with just me, I could plop her in the stroller and wheel her around for hours.   I brought along babysnacks, and she napped when she felt like it.  She didn't smile, but she didn't cry, either. 

The baby can play by herself, and we've babesafed the living room, so we don't have to be staring at her every second.  This used to give us time with the computer (laptops in the living room), but recently, our daughter, no doubt due to her unusually high intelligence, has taken an interest in computers, so we can't open one in her presence or she will whine and cry until we give her a chance to break it.

I just remind myself that J.K. Rowling was a single mother when she wrote Harry Potter.