Friday, July 8, 2016

To Hell With Housework

I asked some other writers how they get through their summers, and still managed to write ....

 Contrary to the notion that it gets easier to find time as the children get older, Carmel Harrington among others (myself included) finds parenting now demands just as much if not more of her writing time. She writes ‘every morning while they are in school, and after they go to bed, but throw in chicken pox back to back, broken arms for both of them (you couldn't write it) and various other life curve balls, I've just not got the word count done.'  Carmel began to write through the weekends as well. With a novel deadline approaching; she checked into a local hotel for a week. ‘It’s tough balancing it all, but any working mother will tell you the same.... This summer, Carmel’s using camps, and kid swapping with another mother - they’ll take each other’s kids a couple of afternoons a week. ‘After that, it’ll be a lot of late nights and weekends. Somehow or other, I'll get there. And so will you.’

by Sarah Andersen

Maria Duffy agrees, ‘the juggling never really stops, no matter what age they are and the guilt is always there. I tend to do a lot of my writing at night when everyone is gone to bed. I can get way more done without any interruptions. It does leave me exhausted the next day, but I try to pick nights when hubby is around the next morning so he can hold the fort while I get a lie-in. There should be a mandatory week in September when all mothers are made go to a spa to recover! Louise Phillips also finds going away to write is a terrific help, ‘but early morning is the most guilt free time although it's all about juggling, including the guilt!’

Keep a notebook or page of your manuscript on you at all times, so you can write or revise whenever you get a second Ruth Long recommends doing this, ‘in the car outside schools, coffee shops,waiting for classes, supervision, naptimes etc. I then type things up later. It's also important to look after yourself, so if you set a writing word count for a day make sure it's a minimum, and anything on top of that is a bonus and will make you feel better.’

Hazel Gaynor finds it useful to break the days/weeks up into work time and family time - as much as is reasonably possible. She also finds ‘it often comes down to getting up very early to write for a few hours before the boys are up, or staying up late after they're in bed. That way I at least feel I've made a start before breakfast etc...’

Lorna Sixsmith comments that summer camps aren’t always that helpful – ‘They’re so short, and as I live half hour drive from most. By the time I've got them there, it's time to collect them.... add to that,’ said Lorna, farmer and writer, ‘a husband who says 'can you stand in a gap for 5 min' and an hour later...!’ 

Forget the housework,’ says Shirley Benton- Bailey  'and let the lot of them find what they need when they need it. I find whenever I down tools, my family are a lot more resourceful about getting what they need than they'd lead me to believe....! She recommends online food shopping or getting your partner hooked on Aldi. ‘I have totally outsourced Aldi to my husband now, and won't be taking it back :)

Cat Hogan who just launched her first book, They All Fall Down, empathizes – ‘I spend my days crippled with guilt. The grass is up to my knees in the garden and I can't see out the window with the grime! I'll write in the morning when the half man is in school (the baby will be put in front of the telly or out the back garden) - then, when they go to bed, I go back to it. I look like a crack head as I'm wrecked all the time. I just about manage a shower every day and the weekends don't exist. That said- I love it.’

Margaret Scott thinks the key is to ‘be 'ready' at the first sign of having an hour or two to yourself, so be thinking all the time working out the next bit you want to write so that when an opportunity presents you can 'drop everything and write'. And that means write, not hoover, not put on a wash, not clean out the fridge... Funnily enough I do find I read so much more in the summer which always puts me even more in the mood for writing so it’s as much me wanting to find time for writing as having to, if that makes any sense... it's not easy though, and with a broken armed seven year old and the two year old half-boy-half-bullock this summer will most likely prove to be the ultimate test of my dedication!’

Gin sales are going to rocket this summer!’ says Hazel Gaynor, adding that its ‘very reassuring to realize everyone is facing the same plate-spinning, house-falling-apart-around-your-ankles, child-juggling, deadline-stress predicament over the next 8 weeks. I was explaining it to a friend the other day like this: imagine your office job. Now imagine having the same expectations and deadlines and work to get done as you do all year, but that you have to take your children to work with you every day for eight weeks. Not easy!

Thanks for all your tips, wisdom and humor - here’s to September, down with guilt, and up with gin! Good luck everyone, keep going!


Lorna said...

Oh, I'm so envious re booking into a hotel for a week! I have considered it but know that I'd come home to three times the amount of work.

Theresa Milstein said...

It isn't easy to write when other people are around. I try to be productive in the early morning before everyone gets up. I really enjoyed reading this. Not only did I get tips from other writers, I didn't feel like I was the only one going through this.

Words A Day said...

Knowing you're not the only one does help Theresa :)

Words A Day said...

I know exactly what you mean Lorna, but a full weeks writing might be worth the angst on your return :)