Raising Kids While Writing Full Time by Mary Buckham with giveaway!

Mary's photoPlease welcome my special guest today, Mary Buckham!! Always great to have such a fantastic writer with us – I love her Invisible Recruits series. Take it away, Mary!

Thank you to Misty and the Magical Musings gang for having me here, today.  I love this lively and fun blog, so it’s a privilege and a blast to be one of your special guests!

Raising Kids While Writing Full Time

or

There’s Got to Be an Easier Way to Drive Yourself Insane

I know, before I first sat down to write my first novel, that I had this image of what writers do all day. You know the one—eating bon bons, reclining on a fainting couch, being creative and mythical. The truth, for me, was slightly, okay, almost the exact opposite as I had five kids under the age of eight running, or crawling, around. My only excuse for thinking writers had some magical abilities to write in utter chaos is because I was too brain dead to know any better.

Just this past weekend I was talking with two mothers who had teenagers and then an oops baby, who was still in diapers, and these writers were struggling with how to write with their changing family dynamics. Most mothers juggle this situation at some point in their careers and, even if you don’t write, you might face it doing something else that matters a lot to you but tends to get set aside for the needs of everyone else.

I wish there was a one-answer-fits-all solution, but there isn’t. Raising children (and working an outside job) while harboring a dream to do something different can work, with a little creative strategy and a down-in-the-soul determination to make it work. Here are a few words of advice:

* Expect the process to challenge you. Get rid of the ‘ideal’ creative environment and embrace what you have to move forward.

* Kids are the world’s best time-management trainers. Use them to teach you to think when you can, work when you can, and accomplish what you can when you can.

* Create a routine. Light a candle. Turn up a specific song. Use a reoccurring small routine to train yourself to start what you want to accomplish, even if only in small increments.

* Keep focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

* Remain flexible with your schedule and your expectation of what can be accomplished.

* Remember that what you’re doing is not only reaching for your dream, but teaching your children that it’s important for them to do the same.

Okay, bring on your own suggestions, whether you’re writing or reaching for a different dream:  How can you work on what matters to you with kids underfoot?

One commenter to win WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS Book 1, an e-book in the expanded MaryBuckham_WritingActiveHooksBook1_1400pxWriting Active Series! (available for pre-orders now) It’s really good and, for writers, it’ll make a huge difference in your writing! For readers? You can have WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS or any e-copy of one of my Urban Fantasy Invisible Recruits series. Your choice!

Mary Buckham is a USA TODAY bestselling, award winning author of both fiction and non-fiction writing craft books. Her Urban Fantasy series, The Invisible Recruits, focuses on five women recruited to fight preternatural threats in a contemporary world that is unaware of the danger around InvisibleFears_1400them. The sixth novel in the series, INVISIBLE SECRETS, will be released in Fall 2014. She also co-authors with NYT bestseller Dianna Love the YA dystopian Red Moon Series, with the 3rd book in that series, TIME LOCK released in June of 2014. The WRITING ACTIVE SETTING series (in e-format and book form) helps writers of all genres dig deeper into their craft and her next Writing Active book; WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS Book 1 will be released in Fall 2014. She lives in Washington State with her husband and has lost track of which kids and grandkids are at home at any given time. She can be reached via her website www.MaryBuckham.com or on her Facebook Reader page www.facebook.com/marybuckham,

About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
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31 Responses to Raising Kids While Writing Full Time by Mary Buckham with giveaway!

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Warm welcome to you, Mary! I love this post because I think many writers struggle to fit their need to write into their daily life. You give good, usable advice. Thank you! My biggest issue was giving myself permission to make writing a priority somewhere higher than last. Lol. I got the kids to understand what I was doing by telling them “Mommy’s playing novel.” They played computer games so knew that meant I needed concentration time.

    Congratulations on your upcoming release of Invisible Secrets!

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Mary! Oh, you hit on a bit issue. Permission. That conflict that’s hardwired into us that seems to scream “you SHOULD NOT” be doing anything for yourself until . . . Gold stars you for making your writing a priority and what a fun approach. Mommy’s playing novel should be every writing mother’s mantra! Love it!!

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Mary, welcome to Magical! I don’t have children at home anymore. When I did, I used to work better with interruptions. (At least, in my memory I did, lol.) Right now, my cat will jump on my lap anytime she wants some loving. I hate to push her off because (1) I feel guilty and (2) it took her a long time to be affectionate, and if I push her off too often, she might stop coming to me.

    I know this is a problem, but it’s a problem I have resigned myself to living with. I also have a dog and a husband, but it’s the cat who’s my worse interrupter. My schedule is flexible, though, and thanks for your great advice!

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Edie and thank you so much for getting me up and running this morning! Fur babies are babies, too, so I hear where you’re coming from. Any type of child hits the hot button for us. The need to nurture and make it better for them vs the need to treat what we’re doing with the same professional attention as if we’re in an office away from all the demands on our time (though office environments have other demands). Flexibility is a great lesson to learn. So give your loved one a solid hug from me and feel okay when you can’t. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Mary! (Hi Misty!) It’s so great to have you here today, Mary! I’m always so grateful to writers and moms who share their wisdom on things I struggle with too. Thank you for your advice. Setting a routine is something I’ve had a hard time with lately, but I’m inspired to change that – and I love the idea of lighting a candle.

    Congratulations on your upcoming book!
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Keeping Mr. Right Now Giveaway!

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Robin! Sometimes the challenge with routines is when live changes, and it always does when raising kids or having other demands on our lives, is to recreate new routines that keep us going. If a child leaves home, or returns, or we move, or take a new job–all of these issues play havoc with our creativity so give yourself permission (there’s that word again) to find a new routine that works for you where you are currently in your life. I’m here cheering you on!

  4. Carmen Fox says:

    Hi Mary

    I don’t have children. I will never have children. So I don’t know how to juggle kids and writing. But if it’s not children, it’s something else. Family members. The day job. ;-) TV. Routine is the only way to get anything done, I guess. On a conscious level, I know that. But I suck at self-discipline (good thing I don’t have children, right?). But I never tried “anchoring” the routine by using a tune or a candle. Great tip.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Carmen
    Carmen Fox`s last blog was …THE WRITE PATH with Holly Hunt

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Carmen! Lovely to see you here and I hear you. There’s always something tugging at us, challenging us to make what can be hard choices. The TV vs writing, maybe not so much :lol: though at time, when our creativity is running on empty diving into a favorite show is more than a passive retreat, it’s a life line. One trick I found was in asking ‘if this was X (fill in the name of a person we love with all our heart and only want the best for) what would I recommend she/he do?’ That’s the answer we need to hear for ourselves. If you’d recommend your loved one to take the time to write, even a little, then it’s a sure sign that’s what you yourself need, too! Thanks for swinging by and sharing!

  5. Hi Mary!

    I was so happy to hear that it is possible to be a successful writer while juggling demands of a family life. My youngest is enrolled in an online school, so even during the school year I am “hands on” during the day. All the rhetoric about writing habits seems to be centered on making a routine every day for long periods of time. I find it a bit discouraging when those authors claim that without the long, uninterrupted periods, the writing will be substandard.

    Is there some way you use to get into the “zone” faster than someone who has the luxury of many consecutive hours to write?

    Thanks! :)

    Nanette
    Nanette South Clark`s last blog was …Experiments with Alternate Currents of Very High Frequency and their Application to Methods of Artificial Illumination, Part 3 – A Nikola Tesla Lecture

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Nannette! The reason you hear the mantra “write every day” is as a tool to train yourself to expect to write as the norm, not the exception. When long gaps of time occur between sitting down to write it is like any other skill that you let slide–it takes longer to get back into the groove. That’s all. As for long, uninterrupted hours, piddlesticks! You do what you can at this stage in your life. If that’s 15 min increments and you only get one page done a day, at the end of a year you’ll still have a full book finished. Don’t add unnecessary pressure to yourself. Plus – if you give yourself permission to do that 15 min then it can slide into 20 minutes, then 30 and soon you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. As for getting in the zone that’s where lighting a candle, or putting on specific music comes in handy. A ritual, just like when you put the kids to bed. When you do step A, then B they know it’s time to go to bed. SO figure out your own step A, then B and after a few days it’ll be a whole lot easier to pick up where you left off and move ahead! Thanks for swinging by today :lol:

  6. heathercm2001 says:

    Other than my two dogs, I do not have children. However, my sister, my nephew, and their two dogs moved in with me about a month ago. I kind of count him as a temporary child. I don’t know how you guys do it, and have no intentions of figuring it out. I very much enjoyed the simplicity of living by myself for almost 8 years. Kids definitely are not bad. They add a completely new dimension to life. I think I’ll leave it to the professionals, though because you all seem to handle it so well.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      :lol: Heather! Gold stars you for being willing to open your life to the chaos that is the norm with kids! And that’s said as a reality, not a put down! One of the most eye-opening works about what it means to be a woman creative was called A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. She maintained that until women could get a space of their own, and give themselves permission to write, or paint, or create, the world would be deprived of the work that might have been created by those women. So it’s a good time to be a writer and it’s readers like you that make that such a joy! Thanks for visiting :mrgreen:

  7. Claudia Stephan says:

    Hello Misty! Mary, your advice is very helpful to mothers everywhere! Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Claudia and thank you for visiting today! Often it’s simply wonderful to hear that we’re not alone with our struggles to write. So everyone who’s taking the time to share that message, and offer a pat or the back or sympathetic hug, helps make sure that another page, and another book might be written. That’s such a lovely win-win!

  8. Brenda Rumsey says:

    I appreciate all the hints you shared. “Finding” time is sometimes very difficult and I’ve discovered that when I can’t “find”it I have to “make” it….smile. I’ve never had an empty nest….first raising my children and now my grandchildren, and must admit that the 10 years I was caregiver for my daughter I didn’t write at all. I was just too exhausted. But I kept the dream and read a lot. What works for me is the 2 hours after everyone goes to bed and I stick to calling it a night at 11pm as much as possible since I get up at 5am to send off my husband to work and get the kids off to school soon after.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Brenda! My hat is off to you! Family does come first and that’s exactly what you’re doing. If there’s too much drama, or energy expended, just keeping our heads above water, the writing can’t get done. And those are hard choices. Mostly what we’re looking at though are those times when life’s not so clear cut, when our little ones (or not so little ones) could wait or understand if we are clear about what we need to keep going. I’m glad, that in the middle of what you’ve done for years, you’re able to make your time. You’re spot on there. None of us are given extra time but daily we’re given choices. Thanks for sharing and stopping by today!

  9. Jacqui Sue-Ping says:

    Hiya Mary! *waves*

    Whenever I have kids underfoot, I leave because I’m clearly in someone else’s house! ROFL!

    As others mentioned, while they don’t have kids, there are so many distractions, whether it’s family or friends or that new t.v. show or noticing that corset you’ve always wanted is at less than half price today (True story! And of course I had to buy it :grin: ), I think not only do you have to give yourself permission to tell people no but you have to follow through and be committed to writing. Find a time that works for you. Lately for me, I’ve been writing just after breakfast, which is unusual for this night owl but I’ve been getting over a sinus infection and for some reason it was worse at night, while the morning it was a little more tolerable.

    Great topic :)

    Jacs

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Jacs ~ I love the dilemma of the corset on sale! That should show up in a story somewhere! Follow through is the key. Permission in a mental/emotional state but until you add action to the mix it’s easy to remain stuck. I’m glad that you’ve found a time that’s working for you now and I’m sending healing vibes, and chicken cyber soup winging toward you. Feel better soon!!

  10. When my daughter and her four sons moved in, my writing ground to a halt for nearly a year. Now, we’re all trained a little better, and I’ve done well enough to have 7 releases so far this year, with 4 more scheduled by the end of the year. I have to say that the constant mayhem is one thing, and I’ve had a real struggle learning how to become productive, but I don’t have to take care of the kids’ physical needs. If I had to do that, I’m not sure I’d be writing even yet. There’s truly only so much a person can do in a day, and each of us has our own limits. I’m at my limit now so have quit volunteering for my local groups, much as I love doing that. Something has to give.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Jacquie ~ you’ve hit the nail on the head, in more than one way. Sometimes we do have to say – here’s my priority, whether that’s family or health or something else. Your saying “there’s only so much a person can do” is absolutely correct. The other element you touched on though is knowing when a limit is reached and then making hard choices. If volunteering feeds your soul more, than that takes precedence over other wants. But you chose writing and look what you’ve done! Sometimes the need to step back can be a time of gaining clarity and re-committing and that’s exactly what it sounds like you’ve done. Which is great because there can never be enough Jacquie Rogers stories for some of us :lol: Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  11. sharon ruffy says:

    HI, Mary, loved the great advice. you are so cool. I love your books. I am not a writer, but that information helps us all with deadlines of all sorts, ;-) :grin:

  12. Debra Elise says:

    I have two boys, 11 & 8. I started writing full time last year. The summer break initially threw off my routine, so I had to learn to write when I had an hour here or there when they were out of the house or quietly playing (which doesn’t happen often). I’ve also tried waking up early before the kids & hubby but that was short lived because apparently I make a lot of noise ;). Anyway what it boils down to for me is, if I want time to write I make it happen. Ask my mom to watch the kids or leave the house when hubby is off and go to a coffee shop. And yes I write with the kids running around the house too.
    But I’m not gonna lie, when school starts back up next week I’ll be doing a happy dance & enjoying the quiet ;)

    Great post Mary. Thanks for some new ideas.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Debra ~ gold stars on finding ways to make your writing happen! One of the biggest differences I see with writers is they fall into two categories. Those that focus on why they CAN’T write and those who focus on HOW are they going to find/make the time? Guess which camp produces more writing? You fall feet first into the second camp and I’m not surprised by that at all! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  13. Marie Dry says:

    This is a great blog for authors with kids. I don’t have children but I look after my mother. I like your advice on focus on what you can do and not on what you cannot do.
    I’m starting a vote for a hard copy of Active Hooks.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Marie! Obligations come in all sizes and forms. So when I talk about kids I mean any obligation that creates that tug of conflict between our want/need/drive to write and our want/need/expectation to do something necessary for someone else. I’m delighted that you caught the important point of where we focus our attention can help us get more of what we want–as long as we focus on that piece and not on what we don’t want. :roll: Thanks for stopping by and voting – love that!

  14. Mary, welcome to MM and thanks for such a great post. I have two children, and started writing seriously just after my first was born. I know! What was I thinking? :) It’s always a struggle for balance, but worth it.

    • Mary Buckham says:

      Hi Michelle ~ It’s been a treat to be here and share with others who know that making choices between what our kids need, our obligations demand and what we want is not easy. It is do-able though and if our discussion helped one more writer to keep on writing this discussion served a great purpose! Cheers :razz:

  15. Rebecca South says:

    I am grateful for the specific suggestions on potential ques to use to signal your brain it’s time to write. I am always fighting with myself over creating, and sticking to, good habits. I am going to use some of your ideas and (hopefully) do better. Something that has helped me in the last week has been to write first. Everytime I open my computer. Even if it’s just for a minute. It stops me from letting emails sidetrack my day, and one time I actually got sidetracked writing! Victory!

  16. cerrissa kim says:

    I am so impressed that you managed to write with five under the age of eight! Really amazing! Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it to write with kiddos at home but it’s taken me years to figure it out. Hopefully your post here will help other moms just starting out so they don’t have to do all the questioning I did of myself. I was a member of a group called Writing Mamas that met at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. We offered one another a lot of support and it made a huge difference for me.

  17. Mary M. says:

    I work outside the space where my kid spent most of her day, at home, with dad. I know I could not have accomplished what I have without a true partner to help me and take my hat off to those who have.

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