By Jay Darkmoore
Children! Damn they can be tough work, With their demands, needing to be fed, clothed, washed. Educated and loved? in fact, as I sit here writing this my lad is currently sulking because I told him off for doing a huge summersault onto my bed. Takes all the time away from us being at the desk, and by the end of the night when our little cherubs have gone to bed, we are way too tired to write a single word!
Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is twice as tough. Being a working single parent that works shifts and writes books in their spare time, runs a household and has some kind of life in between is damn nigh impossible. But we all do it, and not because we were shown how too, or because we win a medal at the end of it all. We do it because we must. And even though we don’t often get that extra pair of hands to help us with the simple things like cleaning the dishes or taking out the trash, not to mention to help with childcare.
My son is eight now, and that fact is scarier than any monster I could imagine up. He is able to entertain himself for a little while whether that’s him playing Minecraft, besting teenagers on Fortnight, or playing out with his friends. So it certainly gives me much more time to be able to do my own thing like writing blog posts and telling you wonderful readers that it isn’t impossible fitting in writing when you are a sole carer for another human being, it’s just a bit fucking difficult.
I have had varying support, ranging from a lot too not so much. Writing has often had to take a back seat whilst my boy was young, but now he’s older I am much more able to get into it.
Tips On Writing –
I have some tips for you below –
1 – You have to want it.
Its very easy at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and you’re falling asleep to turn on the idiot box and switch the brain off. This time is when you should be working. Even if for thirty minutes an evening. The space of time it takes you to finish one episode of that TV show you like. This is when those that want it will do it, and those that don’t want it will make an excuse as to why they can’t. Time is not your enemy, you just have to use it better.
2 – Get up early.
Now, this one can be tough, especially if you are a single parent with a new born because sleep is such a fleeting thing. There is no judgement if you have a new born who is teething, troubled sleeping, and you don’t want to get up that hour earlier to put in some work at the desk before the baby wakes up. However, if you aren’t in this very unique circumstance, and the children are a little older, then I would advice getting up that hour or so earlier in the morning to do a cheeky thirty minutes or even a fifteen minute sprint (see blog post about ‘writing sprints’) to get a lot of work down in not a lot of time.
3 – Get some cover –
Most parents will ask for a baby sitter for a few hours to go out for a meal, some drinks, a theme park for the day, whatever it might be. Maybe ask that special person who supports you when they can for a couple of hours a week to watch your little bundle of joy whilst you put some words down?
4 – Look crazy –
There are some great apps that let you speak into a microphone and dictate out a document. I find this rally useful if you are exceptionally busy with childcare and house work. Imagine walking around the supermarket and you’re telling a piece of broccoli about dragons and vampires, mages and car chases, falling in love and murdering your enemies. Now imagine the look on the cashier’s face…
Seriously though, there are apps that are designed for writers that understand how busy life can be. Some of these include Google Docs voice to text, Windows Dictation, Dragon Professional, Brainia, to name but a few.
Next time you’re ironing or putting the washing away, you could be building on that story.
5 – Time management.
You will be amazed the amount of time we spend frittering away doing useless bullshit. Take social media for one. How long do you spend idling on social media? Currently, my social time for the day (bare in mind I was working through the night on a night shift) is one hour and seventeen minutes for Instagram, seventeen minutes for Facebook and thirty-two minutes for YouTube. That’s almost two hours staring at my screen, when I could be doing more productive things.
Raising children is tough, and by god not an easy or time freeing task in the slightest. Writing is a joy and a love of ours, but we have top prioritise where we put our time. Those that want to be authors and are willing to put in the work will find the time and make the time to do so.
Think about it –
24 hours in a day.
You work for 10 of them/ take care of the child.
You sleep for eight hours (if you’re lucky).
That still leaves 6 hours in the day.
Call it an hour eating.
An hour pooping and showering (not at the same time I hope).
An hour exercising.
Still got three hours there. You telling me you cant spare thirty minutes to get some words in? And that being somewhat generous with the times I mentioned above.
And if you think I don’t know what I am talking about, then go fuck yourself. I work shifts in a crazy job, and when I’m not working I’m caring for my lad and running a house, spending time with friends and family, going climbing mountains and doing other shit, and I still find time to writ. Its about discipline, routines and time management. Hell, I know plans of people that say they ‘want to write a book/poetry/essays/blogs’ etc and don’t have a job or children. Literally no responsibilities, and they still do fuck all and say they don’t have the time or energy to do so. It comes down to discipline.
So stop making excuses and get some damn words down.
Now, I have some projects I need to work on.