Write On Wednesday – Parents, How Do You Write In Peace?

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“Be ruthless about protecting writing days,” J.K. Rowlings, mother of three and author of The Harry Potter Series. “Guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

I don’t have kids.

But I am blessed to be Auntie Monie to my two beautiful nieces, Amari and Khila.

They live in Detroit, so I only get to connect with them over the phone or on Thanksgiving – the only Holiday I visit home.

Since I just get to see them once a year, as soon as my plane lands in the D, I happily claim responsibility for them. Picking them up from school. Helping them with homework. Babysitting them for days at a time.

We take walks, play games and I – the only adult in their lives unable to see ‘Mari and Khila Bean frequently – patiently talk and listen to them about whatever happens to be on their curious, little minds.

I recognize this is a honeymoon experience. I’ve only had to discipline them a few times — I don’t like it — and my mom, bless her heart, handles hair and breakfast duty. Still, in my ignorant, empty wombed mind, I’ve often wondered what it would be like raising my nieces full-time.

Well, if the few days I spend with them during Thanksgiving are any indication, I can tell you this — I’d be exhausted. And writing? Forget about it!

Amari, 8, and Khila, 6, have more energy than any two human children should be allowed. And the few times I did have a moment to myself, all I wanted to do was hide and veg out in front of the t.v.

Needless to say, I didn’t churn out any pages, but my time with my nieces did produce this burning question:

How do you, sister/brother artistpreneurs raise your babies AND make time to create your art?

My late mentor Judith Paige Mitchell once told me that she learned to pen novels so quickly, because when she was raising her kids, she would write in between the hours they were attending school.

A fellow scribe I met on my book tour also shared with me that he used a Word App on his cell phone to write his first novel in the car while waiting to pick up his kids from football practice.

And a friend of mine told me that she rises at the break of dawn when her husband and children are asleep… Just to write in peace.

Makes sense to me. And yes, I’m always touting the advice – Guard your writing time with your life. But when you throw kids in the mix — You guessed it, there’s a chance Amari and Khila will soon be spending summer vacation with me — I’m at a complete loss. 

Fam, I need your help. What do you do?

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14 thoughts on “Write On Wednesday – Parents, How Do You Write In Peace?”

  1. Louise Ritchie said:

    My kids are grown, so it’s easy now. However, when they were little, I’d occupy them with creative projects (not TV) like having them do crafts, draw, etc. I also wrote while they were in daycare and when they were taking naps. When her kids were young, one of my poet friends used to take week-long vacations alone at a friend’s beach house. She left her kids in the care of her husband and sitters. Unlike many women who somehow feel they are bad moms by taking care of their own needs, she felt that she deserved this, and she didn’t express angst about allowing herself to write.

  2. I have to run and pick up my daughter and her friend before taking them to their Science Project Presentation. I will get my response in, “in my pockets of time.” That is truly how I get it all done. But I will elaborate later…

    • LOL! Joy, your response is the perfect illustration for what parents – usually mommies – have to do to get it all in — especially when it comes to themselves and their art. “Pockets of time.” I love it! Waiting anxiously for the rest of your response until later, Monice.

  3. Trish Skinner said:

    Hey Monie,

    You read my FB, so you have some idea of what my son is like! As I pursue my dream of becoming an author, I’ve had to steel my heart (and cover my ears with headphones) in the evening. Not necessarily because my son was doing anything wrong, but often because he and my husband were having fun without me!

    I love writing, and as this first manuscript nears the finish line (OMG! it’s almost done!!!) I am more of a hermit during my writing time. By the way, I don’t have a set period (6-6 for example). I tend to feel my most inspired in the evenings during the week, and in the morning on the weekends. When I intend to get writing done, I tell my husband and he and Rowan – and sometimes, the dogs – find other things to do.

    • Good stuff, friend. You know you gotta send me a photo of you wearing your headphones, right? lOL! I haven’t tried that. I have earplugs, but the fake silence unnerves me. I prefer writing in “real” silence when my home and outside world are resting, actually. Can’t wait to read your best seller!

      • Trish Skinner said:

        Funny, these headphones can’t block out MOMDAR. If Rowan so much as stubs his toe, my mommy radar triangulates and pinpoints his exact location in real time. OMG… I’m my own GPS. God, does that make me a nerd? =/

        Writing a novel is… hard. For the love of all that’s holy, I’ve gained new-found respect for ANYONE who has written a book, let alone those prolific authors who crank out four in a year. You remain my idol, friend.

  4. Rich topic, Monice. As I’m writing this, I have the house all to myself because the Kid and her pops are out at violin lessons. I’ve pulled out my creative to-do list, which includes adding a few more sentences to two essays that I’ve been slowly completing as part of a personal project.

    His willingness to provide me creative space is a real luxury. I wish I could say that I always manage my time well, which is why I think the challenge to create while parenting is, in a lot of ways, no different than creating while you’re also working a 9-to-5. The challenge of butt–in-seat is a fight no matter how you slice it.

    For me, I’m a morning dove, often rising round 4:30 a.m to pack all of my ME time, including writing. It’s hard. I also write on Sundays and I’ve learned to appreciate writing in bits and pieces wherever I am, which is why I ALWAYS carry a notebook with me.

    Hope this helps. Gotta get back to what’s left of my me moment before they get back. Thanks for holding me accountable as a creative, Nichole

    • Nichole, as always in your sharing, you inspire me. What a blessing to have a spouse who not appreciates and respects you as creative creature, but also helps provide a space for it. I’m blessed in that department, too. :) A couple of gems that stood out for me — ME Time – Yes! Butt in the seat fight – Yes! And holding you accountable. Funny, I thought you were holding me accountable. LOL!

  5. Monice,
    The people you quoted have the right idea. You have to use whatever time you have wisely. I try to rise before my husband and three sons who I full-time care for and educate at home. That doesn’t always work so I write while they eat, take a break from school work, nap, and play. I also require the children to have quiet and sit time. This helps them be settled and provides a quiet space for me. Though I’m at my best in the quiet of the morning, I just trust that the Lord will help me block out their noise so I can only hear the words stirring in my head.

  6. Thanx for chiming in, Rhonda. You’re a momma, wife, writer and homeschooler! Amazing. Trusting in the Lord is by far the best advice on this post so far. Let the church say Amen!

  7. @Trish, puh-lease, writing a novel is NOTHING compared to mommyhood. No, my friend, I look up to you.

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