How to be a writer with young kids

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to be a writer with young kids…

I went back to work when my triplets were two. Before that boggles your mind, let me make three points:

  • I have a very supportive and fully involved husband who has always worked a four-day week (I’m lucky, I know).
  • I started by working no more than the equivalent of one day a week and gradually ramped up to three days by the time they were five.
  • I was desperate to get out of the house and talk to some real live adults again.

(At the top of this post, that’s a photo of Claire, Alison and Duncan as six-year olds, when we were visiting Seattle.)

Every writer approaches parenthood differently but a recent post by  on the Freelancer FAQs blog, gives some useful advice. I found all of her tips to be spot on but the two I can most heartily endorse are these:

Have a Strict “for work” Computer

Early in my career, I acquired both a desktop computer (I bought that one second-hand, from my former employer) and a laptop. I did all of the writing on my desktop, which I kept in my office, away from the kids. When I had personal email to handle or home-related web surfing to do, I used the laptop. This separation really helped me to work when I was working and relax (and pay attention to my kids) when I wasn’t.

Write First, Edit Later

I was a “born editor” — someone for whom editing was both fun and interesting. I found writing, on the other hand, to be challenging and difficult. When I left the newspaper business in the early 1990s, I resolved to address this problem and I discovered the miracle of the Crappy First Draft. If you, too, find writing difficult — or if you simply want to speed up your writing, learn to break the habit of editing while you write. I more than doubled my writing speed this way, and I bet you can, too.

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