Pursuing writing passions while raising children is no easy task. There is no way to get the balance right. Murphy’s Law has it that at the time one is busy with writing, a child will fall ill or the school holidays will come rolling around. This is the position I find myself now; trying to work and meet deadlines with a house full of kids. The answer? Make hay while the sun shines.
School holidays for us means 3 energetic boys to amuse and feed and supervise every day. This means mess and takes time, but the biggest killer for writing is that the boys are noisy. It is almost impossible to do any actual writing until 7.30pm and they are in bed.
When I can’t write, I make. These school holidays I’ve been busy doing ‘research’ for upcoming articles and posts on creativity and education. With my time limited, the key to working through this period is to just do what I can. And this means putting bigger projects temporarily on the back burner.
This week I’ve been busy making origami and ninja stars (above) out of coloured paper, which the older boys very happily collected and played with. On one particularly wet day of the holidays we made salt dough and shaped it into Christmas tree ornaments. This kind of ‘making’ feeds back into my writing because much of what I write relates to children and education. But this kind of play with children doesn’t have to connect back to one’s writing work so literally.
‘Play’ can also feed into writing in many unexpected ways, by loosening up one’s creative muscles. Inquiring play activities that are driven by the question ‘What happens when I do this?’ can help you to approach your creative writing with the freedom and light touch that is essential to creating imaginative stories and characters. And above all, it’s fun playing with children and enjoying their observations and discoveries.
It has to be said that you have to work within the parameters of your children. Louis and Hamish are at an age where painting together, side by side, is possible (6 and 4). If I tried this even one year ago, it would have resulted in tears. I tend to work around Ruben’s naps (he’s 2), because when he’s awake he tends to dominate proceedings. The real trick is not to lose hope. The holidays between terms are, after all, only two weeks long. By the second week of the school term I know I’ll be wishing for the holidays again.
Do you have kids? When do you make time for writing?