Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ten Secret Strategies for Mothers Who Write: #2 Constant Interruptions?

Your children love you, need you, and won’t let you talk on the phone, more less write a novel. Sometimes you need to write when they’re awake. You get them settled at homework and start writing. Three sentences into a scene you’ve been dying to write all day, “Mo-ooom, he’s looking at me.” Or “Mooo-om, where are my shoes?” or Mooo-om, do you remember what you dream at night?”

I don’t know about you ladies but when I’m writing, interruptions are like ice down my back or cold water thrown in my face. It’s like when you’re sound asleep and the dog jumps on your stomach. Shock, fear, and then anger! Why won’t they let you write? It costs them nothing; you’re not asking them to help. But they KEEP INTERRUPTING! It can make you want to rip your hair out.

This is about control. They want to control you. They do not want you to have anything to distract you from what they want. Want, not need. You’ve taken care of their needs. They are fed, bathed, and not naked. (Did I mention the not naked is important?)

Yelling does no good and makes you feel like the mom from the black lagoon. Begging doesn’t help. Bribes, promises- you’ve tried them all, haven’t you? Well, here’s a new one and you don’t have to yell or beg.

Give them work. Every single time they interrupt, give them a chore. Yes the babies, too. All it takes is a little planning and a list of jobs. Before you sit down to write, get a cloth and a bucket with water for the little ones. Have a list of chores for the bigger kids ready to go--- so as not to take up too much writing time.

“Mooo-om, I want candy.”

“I’m writing. You can’t have candy but you can wash this wall for me.”

“Mooo-om, where are my shoes?”

“I’m writing. It isn’t my day to watch them but as soon as you find your shoes, put them on your feet, go in the kitchen, and do a load of dishes.”

“Mooo-om, do you remember what you dream at night?”

“I’m writing and why yes, I do. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as you wash two loads of clothes, dry them, hang them up, and put them away.”

They will learn that interrupting writing time means work. Hard work. I haven’t met a kid yet who wants to do chores. If your child does love to do chores, I’ll watch them for you while you write.