Hey, blog. For the last few months, I’ve been managing a Facebook group for writers with children. It’s been a really amazing experience to hear everyone’s stories of both the enrichment they get from having children, and the ways they find time to write with kids. It’s also been refreshing to get support and give support to those of us who wonder (I’m one) if parenting and writing can be reconciled.
So, blog, I decided to feed you a bit with some guest posts from other parents/writers. Gareth Jones is an environmentalist, a father of 5, and a writer who has published over 40 publications in different languages. He was kind enough to share the following:
Writing, With Children
A friend of mine who’d just had his first novel published said that when asked, he told people he had time to write as he didn’t have children. He was amazed that I’d written a novel when I have five children. In fact I’ve now completed three novels, as yet unpublished. So how do I have the time?
Actually, people often ask me and my wife how we have time for anything, or how we cope with five children. I guess to someone with one child or none, five seems a lot, but the fact is it doesn’t seem that many to me; that’s what we’re used to.
The fact is, whatever your circumstances, people find time for what they want to do, whether their hobby is watching TV or doing something more productive. Writing is a solitary endeavour though, so on the face of it, it’s not really something the family can join in. It’s also something that requires concentration, so it’s not easy to write while the TV is on or children are playing under your chair or needing help with homework.
This means that writing time is valuable, as it is for all writers, so I need to spend time thinking about my stories when I’m doing other things that don’t require much brain power, so that when I sit down I can get on with writing 1000 words an hour. Or, more likely, writing for a 10 minute block. Most of the writing strategies I could talk about are common to all writers, so what is there I can say specifically about writing with children?
A lot of writers have daily, weekly or annual writing goals. I have none. I don’t ever expect to get much done, so I’m pleased with whatever I’ve written. Most writers have a schedule, while I can easily go for days and sometimes weeks without writing anything. I keep involved by editing a bit, submitting stories, keeping up with my on-line writers group. And I write when I can.
It can be easy to get frustrated and resentful, and that’s not something I want to feel about my family. So I view writing as a hobby. In ten years I’ve completed 3 novels, and over 100 short stories. I’ve had over 100 story publications in 25 languages, written over 100 book reviews, written a TV screenplay and several comic scripts. I don’t measure output though. I enjoy my writing, and my children join in too. My stories are suitable to read to children, though not necessarily anything the younger ones would understand. They all like writing their own stories, and the older ones help me brainstorm ideas. My oldest son had his first story published in a podcast recently, and the 2 girls had stories selected for a school anthology.
If I ever happen to sell a novel and sign a deal to write a novel in a year, I’ll have to come up with a new plan. But for now I am enjoying writing, with children.