The Writing Routines of Parents Who Attempt to Write

05/07/2020

Many creatives draw inspiration from reading about the creative methods of famous writers—like Hemingway—who woke early, wrote at Paris cafes, and sometimes left his baby with the cat. But what are some actual methods of writer parents with young kids? Here are just a few.

“I find I get my best writing done in the morning. My children get up at 6 am, so I started rising at 5 am to write. But after a couple of days of doing that, one kid also started getting up at 5 am. So, then I started waking up at 4:30 am and since my baby wakes up around 3 am for a feeding, I now find I get my best writing done at 2 am.”

—Mila, Essayist

illustration showing parent writers with kids

“I try to work through pieces in my head…” Illustration by Josh Quick.

“I like to travel to a remote cabin in the woods and draw inspiration from the morning light reflecting off the lake. I can usually do that for a couple of minutes before someone asks where the Frosted Flakes are. I’m still trying to figure out how to spend a week writing in a cabin without bringing my kids.”

—Anika, Poet

“I prefer to write as soon as the muse hits me. Of course, sometimes it hits when my children start brawling in the middle of the frozen food aisle, so I just type a bunch of notes in my phone and hope they will make sense later.”

—Noah, Author of at least 100 story ideas

“There is a special writing retreat that I go to several times a year where I get my best work done. It is a sparsely decorated room with only a few benches for seating and affordable childcare. While there, I get more work done in 30 minutes than I could in a four-hour chunk of time before I had kids. I just have to deal with people occasionally coming in to change into their yoga pants”

—Naomi, YA Novelist

“I am a strict believer in a daily word count, but I can only manage about 20 words a day right now. So, I figure I’ll have a solid first draft of my book in about nine years. Then I’ll start revising it.”

—Mateo, Memoirist

“Meditation really clears my mind to focus on my latest project. So, I rise at 5 am with a plan to do 20 minutes of meditation before beginning my work. Inevitably, a child will climb on my back before I’m done.

“Can you please remove this child?” I sometimes ask my partner, and then they will say I should start meditating on ways to build a time machine so I can travel back in time and get a wealthy patron. 

So, now I’m thinking that could be good plot for a book.”

—Elliot, Author of at least 10 solid ideas for Sci Fi books

“Now that my kids are in school, I try to write every day. Well, at least every day when school isn’t canceled, or one of them isn’t home sick or needing to be taken to a doctor’s appointment. And sometimes when I finally get a day to write, I somehow spend all my time cleaning the ceiling fans instead.”

—Eva, Playwright

“Walking really helps me process ideas, so every afternoon, I go for a long walk with my toddler. I try to work through pieces in my head, but after about 10 minutes, my child insists on getting out and pushing the stroller herself and then we both go home and take a nap.”

—Finley, Short story writer 

“I jot down ideas whenever they come to me and can often get a half a sentence in before a child interrupts me to ask for a snack. A while back, I got an idea for a humor piece about the writing routines of parents and using this creative method I was able to finish an 800-word humor piece in just two years.”

—Julie, Writer with over 30 half-written pieces on her hard drive

Did you enjoy this piece for writer parents? Check out this author’s blog on wizarding houses for writers

author photo
Julie Vick (Guest Blogger)

Julie Vick is a writer living in Colorado. Her work has appeared in New Yorker Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Real Simple. She is an English Instructor at the University of Colorado Denver. Read more of her work at julievick.com and follow her on twitter @vickjulie.