Thoughts lately continue to draw towards the topic of writing time, or rather, not enough writing time. We discussed this at the last writer’s meeting, where a number of members made mention how they couldnt find the time to get thoughts to paper. Mostly issues with small children tugging at their attention revealed itself as the main cause.
Most profound was when a male member of the group stated simply to figure out what takes precedence in your life. Naturally if writing becomes the most important, then you find the time. The other members are mothers of small children, all under the age of school.
I don’t want to sound sexist, but too often I hear mother’s who give up their hobbies and interest for the role of motherhood, and too often I hear men try to simplify the problem by brushing aside parental concerns. A mother who is exhausted by bedtime may have the time to write, but likely won’t in favor of sleep. If the child naps- again, some mothers opt to sleep as well if only to keep their sanity in dealing with the energies of the tots.
I think a mother of small ones may take on the added effort of entertaining the children enough to squeeze in her writing time- or demand her spouse give her a much needed break. Too many mothers I know do not have this option, however. The fathers are absent, or simply won’t take up the responsibility. I think therein lies the problem with the stay at home mom; the lack of support.
I have a ten year old who entertains himself very well. I homeschool, however, and this all rests on my shoulders. If he’s bored, he comes to me, not his father. If he needs fed, he comes to me, not his father. I’m fortunate that my son provides me the time to write if I want, or when I demand it, but I also recognize that his personality is laid back- not at all demanding that some kids require of their parents.
But where is the solution? Does a stay at home give up her hopes of publication in favor of her kids? Not at all. I know of one mother who writes, with headphones on, while her kids watch their favorite show. This provides the thirty to sixty minutes of writing time. Another woman I knew years ago pushed off the role of motherhood to her sister she was raising to watch her toddler as she retreated under sound-dampening headphones.3
For some writers, they need to juggle time increments to reach wordcount goals. They write in bursts or snatch a half hour here or there, or save up their writing time for Sundays only. Its whatever works for you. You may need to trial and error until you find what works best.
I think women also need to make more demands on friends and family to reach their goals, to recognize that writing is a valued interest, possibly income worthy, and necessary to a woman’s sanity. With that in mind, ask others’ to help with babysitting.
A few other tips:
Multitask! Keep a notepad with pen/pencil and write while in the waiting room, or waiting to pick up kids, or at the kitchen table waiting for something to boil.
Record your novel. Keep a tape recorder and speak your story out rather than write it out. then dictate later. My cell phone even has a voice recorder built in.