1. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Pardon The Interruption...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Spencer1990, Aug 27, 2016.

    I know I'm not the person here who is a parent and writer. I'm making this thread in hopes of sharing ideas to keep the muse around while children blather incessantly in the background.

    To be clear, I love my son. He's five years old and just started Kindergarten, the absolute light of my life. But Sometimes, I can't think when he's going on and on about whatever is churning around in his brain. At the moment: "Daddy, why are our faces not round?"

    I have a daughter due to arrive via womb (my wife's, not mine, for the sake of clarity) in December and I'm beginning to develop strategies to keep the inspiration around whilst tending to children.

    What happened tonight that prompted this: I am currently working on framing a short story that's been floating around in my head for quite some time. Before I start to work on it, I want to be sure the idea is whole. Just when I think I have something, he asks me why our faces aren't round, thus launching us into a conversation on why not everyone has the same shaped face, etc., etc.

    What do you other parents of young children do to keep your writing mind active while you devote attention to your kids?
     
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  2. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    This is something I struggle with daily. I haven't entirely figured it out yet. I haven't been at this game as long as you have - my oldest is 2 and my second is 3 months, so while my oldest doesn't ask specific questions that derail my thoughts, she will repeat the same sentence endlessly until I repeat it back to her, acknowleding that I have understood what she's said.

    It usually involves me, trying to write, and her, looking up from play to say "Mama, Lightning McQueen goes fast!" And I say, "Yes." But that isn't a sufficient enough reply, so she repeats it again and again and again and again and again and again until I finally say, "Yes, Lightning McQueen goes fast."
    And you'd think this would be simple enough to get through - just copy back to her what she says the first time to avoid all the fuss, right? But 30 seconds later it's a new thought, and another, and then another. As long as she's awake, she doesn't stop talking. It's very difficult to think creatively when she's awake and around. Most days I end up scrapping it until nap time or after she goes to bed because it's simply futile. Fortunately the baby is still in that "lump" stage where she just lies there and grins at me while I write, so she isn't a problem yet. I have no idea what I'll do when she's old enough to talk as well. Flee to the library whenever I can?

    That being said - while I may not be able to sit down and write pages and pages, I find that snatches of ideas do come. The trick is writing down these little flashes of inspiration when they happen or immediately after, because otherwise the crazy train of parenting will bowl right over it and it'll be gone. Driving is, by far, my most creative space. The girls usually fall asleep, or my 2 year old likes to just look out the window listening to whatever music I choose. It's the one time of day that she's reliably silent. When I drive, my mind opens up to all the creativity that has been stifled during the day. Happens at night sometimes too. When the house is quiet. If my husband is content to do his own thing (often he'd rather do something with me, which is nice but doesn't lend itself easily to writing) and I can bask in the silence, often I find the bottled up ideas of the day start to flow again.

    It's a struggle. Some days I feel like parenting has sucked my soul away and I'll never have the ability to write again, and other days it feels like muses of writing are all around me and the tedium can't touch them. Some very special days it feels like the love between us all makes my writing that much better.

    Congrats on the new baby, by the way. Is your son is ready for a little intruder?
     
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  3. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I have some bad news for you. The talking thing doesn't get better, I'm told, until they're seven or so. My son is never at a loss for words. I joke with my wife all the time about how he narrates everything he does. I mean literally everything. I can hardly get him to close his talk box when he's brushing his teeth.

    Jotting the ideas down has been helpful. I've recently started doing that and have a building list of stories I plan to write. The problem is the silent time to frame the stories.

    I'm jealous that your little girl is quiet in the car, haha! Hopefully that doesn't change as she gets older.

    And thank you! We're very excited. And I'm not sure he really comprehends the gravity of the new baby situation. He's excited for now, planning all of the activities he's going to do with her, but he doesn't quite grasp that new babies don't do much for a while. I imagine he's going to be singing a different tune once she gets here, a rude awakening.

    Sometimes I think being a father of young children is not condusive to writing. It is so hard sometimes to muster up the creativity to write after my nerves have been stretched to the nth degree all day long. I find that reading for myself, after he goes to bed, helps to get the juices flowing...sometimes.
     
  4. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    When you explain them something, try to be analytical in your head about it. For example, the moment you explained why everyone dont have round faces. Have your explanation have a beginning, midpoint and an end. If nothing more, this way you build up understanding the basic structure and who knows - maybe your children do as well.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aargh. That situation would drive me totally coo coo, so it's a great thing that I never had children. (My husband feels the same!) I like kids a lot, but not when they're at this 24/7 stage. Give them to me when they are about 10 and I'd be happy.

    Having said that, there is nothing like teaching a child about personal space and quiet time either. I was raised to know that my parents were sometimes 'busy' and I wasn't to interrupt them. That seemed reasonable to me. If your kid is starting kindergarten, that's plenty old enough to start taking this concept on board. He'll need to follow some rules (like quiet time) at kindergarten, so he's not too young to get started at home. Obviously you can't leave him on his own for hours on end, and you do need to tell him when quiet time is over and it's okay to talk (don't make him guess about when this happens) but even a half-hour or an hour snatched once a day can be productive for you, and it's a good exercise for him as well. And the good news is, once it's ingrained in him, he will help pass that on to his younger siblings as well.
     
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  6. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    You better have an understanding spouse.

    My son is 7 now. I had always considered myself to be a writer in waiting, then, a few months before he was due back in 2009 I had the horrible realisation that I would never have as much time to write again as a young person as I had for the previous 33 years. I hit the laptop like crazy and made a relatively good start on a novel.

    Unfortunately then life happened to me. A move, a new job where I had to travel for 14 weeks a year, and a demanding diploma course.

    Last year, 6 year's after I had started it, at about 160,000 words I reluctantly put it aside for a short story that itself has turned into a novel. I am now doing the second draft. I have learnt a lot about writing with these two books but mostly I have learnt that there is no corner cutting.

    You can't write well without shutting yourself off from the world. Books take an interminably long time to write. If you shut yourself off from the world for a long time your relationships suffer.

    For most of us here there is no guarantee, or even indication, that there is any point in doing what we are doing. But I can't stop. At least my wife loves what I am writing, believes in it, and wants it to be finished.

    Wish I had a better answer.
     
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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My wife and I raised two children with developmental disabilities. So, on top of the usual mayhem children bring, we had advocacy activities (and plenty of 'em!) as well as planning for their future care. I also had a demanding career. And, once my son became interested in soccer, I had a whole new area of activity making sure he had a place to play. At one point, that meant running an entire soccer program.

    You have to accept that there are going to be times your writing takes a back seat. I carved out time for it (usually late at night, after everyone else was asleep) but there were times when even that didn't work. Having children with special needs puts intense pressure on a marriage, and my wife and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage next month.

    There's no easy answer. If you abandon your writing completely, you may resent your family. If you make it your first priority, your family (especially your spouse) will resent you. An old friend of mine once said about relationships, "The moment you say 'we', you lose some of 'I'." I have found that is true. I've also found the "we" is vital. Each of us finds our own balance. Good luck with yours.
     
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  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Earplugs and a brown noise tone playing over your computer speakers.

    It works for construction crews, so should work for children as well. ;)
     
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  9. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    It's a struggle, that's for sure. I think the hardest part are those times where I make time for myself to write, put him in quiet time, tell my wife I'm going to write something. Then I sit down to do it and I wind up staring at a blank screen.

    I suppose it's a matter of practicing. But preparing to be creative pretty much destroys my creativity. If that makes sense.
     
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  10. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Oh joy. More talking. She sounds like she's going to be a lot like your son. My mom is highly amused, since I was the biggest chatterbox until about age 10, and thinks it's sweet justice that I now have to deal with one myself. Maybe you'll get that satisfaction someday if your son has a talkative child.

    I'm told that the first few months are tough with a second, but as soon as the baby starts to get interactive and respond to play, the older sibling starts to like them better. In our experience, our oldest didn't seem too disrupted. She just sort of rolled with it and took it all in stride. Hopefully your guy does the same thing. I think there will definitely be some advantages to the fact that he's a little older. Even if he doesn't understand the concept of a sleepy, unexciting newborn right now, he'll learn quickly. He sounds like he's got a curious mind, so hopefully that'll help him be interested and helpful when it comes to baby girl.

    You're wise to read. Have you tried audiobooks during the day? I guess if he never stops talking, it's probably hard to listen to anything, but I find that even listening to books helps keep my mind in the writing mode when I'm unable to sit down and read.

    My husband and I figured this little gem out a year ago. She went from 2 naps to 1 a day, and I mourned the loss of that extra "off-duty" time. So we began to institute a quiet time of sorts. We put her in her room and just let her play solo for a while. She likes it, we love it, it works. I like to think it's helping her too, developing her abilities to play independently. And she knows that when she's done playing, she just needs to knock on her door and we'll let her out. Some days she plays for an hour, some days she plays for two. A 5 year old knows how to open a door, so I don't imagine just shutting him in his room would work, but perhaps establishing some rules like "You have to play quietly until the music is done," and then make a playlist that lasts half an hour or an hour could help him understand.
     
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  11. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Your post is really encouraging. I have actually written a first draft of a novel. But I'm letting it simmer for a while before I go back to editing it.

    It was strange, I had almost no issues with creativity and being a parent in the time it took me to write that (a month give or take), then as soon as that first draft was done, it was like the creativity was dried up, gone. I've written a few short stories since, but I'm having trouble bringing ideas to fruition.
     
  12. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Ugh. I do this too. After staring at the page for a few minutes, I end up coming here and "wasting" my quiet time by doing things other than writing.
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I also found that after my first attempt, the next ones came with more difficulty. I think it might have been a combination of factors - life with my kids was growing more complex, and my expectations of quality of writing were changing. Also, by that time I was writing a lot of advocacy pieces - completely different mindset for writing.
     
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  14. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    I didn't read all the replies (sorry). I have a short attn. span sometimes. But yesterday when I read the original post I laughed. Not sure if you meant to be funny, or at least light hearted, but your insertion of 'round faces' just cracked me up, both places.

    I think this is a really good piece of writing! Humor & a light heart are necessary to survive.
     
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  15. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    Don't wish it away too hard. It's over much faster than you think.

    One day you'll miss that voice.
     
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  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    This sounds like writing on demand to me.

    When I was doing technical writing, my boss imposed deadlines and I had to push through blank-page syndrome (BPS, LOL) or lose the job.

    But when it's just me imposing deadlines or demanding work, I often end up writing nothing because I'm kind of a pushover as a boss.

    Perhaps an outline or synopsis would help. Then at least you'll have a specific thing you're supposed to write for any session you can squeeze in.
     
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  17. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Writing on demand is exactly what it is.

    When I wrote the novel, I had no problem doing this. I got up in the morning and banged out 2000+ words every day. it came relatively easily.

    Now that I'm trying to get a collection of short stories together, the well seems to have dried up. Although, I did write about 4000 words yesterday that I rather like. So that's positive.
     
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  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you're making progress. Good for you!
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you're making progress. Good for you!
     
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