Writing in the Midst of Chaos

Author moms with younger children perform miracles every day, accomplishing feats no one ever expects. Yet, they out put marvelous books that draw the readers into their magical worlds. Today, Audra shares her acrobatic achievements and how she deals with children and writing.

Many writers have a room where they can sequester themselves away in peace and quiet. Where the words of their story can flow from fingertips to key board without interruption. A place where their writing resides.

And then there is me and other authors like me. I don’t have that wonderful writing utopia. Oh I dream of it, imagine what it would be like and even decorate it in my mind.

No, my writing spot is right here in the living room. We don’t have a family room, so this where the bulk of household things happen. It’s where the television is, where the kids are, where the cats and dogs are, where the kitchen is just a few steps away.

My writing space can often be described as chaotic. I learned to write with my headphones on and music playing out of writing self-preservation. It helps take me away from the living room and concentrate.

I have tried leaving them off, but there is nothing like trying to figure out just the right way to word a sentence only to have Sponge Bob’s ridiculous laughter barge into my head. Or a herd of dogs and shrieking children charge through.

Even the headphones are no bar to disruption though.

I will be writing, cruising along with the story unfolding faster than I can type when, tap tap tap on my shoulder. After sighing and yanking myself away from the story I turn and look at the child who summons me from my world and slip my headphones off.

Once the headphones are off, the child launches into a litany of transgressions inflicted upon him by his brothers.  “So and so won’t leave me alone. So and so won’t sit up on the couch and he keeps putting his feet on me. So and so won’t get out of the way of the TV, etc.”

So of course I turn around and referee, hoping this time they will settle and let me be for a little while.

Then I remind them that unless someone is choking, bleeding, broken, dying, or the house is on fire that they need to let me alone. Sending them outside often helps for a little while, but they are brothers and my youngest two are like oil and water. So it doesn’t last.

I put my headphones back on, try to get my mind back into my story like it was and go back to writing.

Tap tap tap. I slip the headphones back off and listen to whatever the problem is now.

This process repeats itself over and over and somewhere in there my mind glazes over with visions of a tower…on top of a mountain, surrounded by a mote filled with alligators. My writing space is of course in the top of the tower. Then I wonder how much it would cost to install a mote around my computer desk in the living room.

In an effort to head off anything else, I leave the headphones off for a few minutes and go back to writing. Until I realize my character has stopped talking about whatever he is supposed to be talking about and is now singing, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea…”

Never mind, headphones work better.

My husband, when he can, will run interference with the kids. He has become quite the child wrangler.

Over time, my kids have learned that when the headphones are on, mom is off limits unless it is something dire. I don’t write when they need fed or anything like that and I do spend lots of time with them. So they are not lacking, it is just the usual sibling warfare.

Even so, they do interrupt me still. I have learned to jump in and out of writing with the skill of a mental acrobat. However, this does cut down on how much I can get written in a day.  Especially since farm life also claims my time.

In spite of this chaos, noise, and disruption my story comes to life. I have persistent characters that refuse to allow any of this to stop the telling of their story.

Why don’t I write after they go to bed? I do sometimes. I have even tried to write first thing in the morning when things are quieter, but I am not a morning person and my brain doesn’t function in the way it needs to in order to write early in the morning.

That’s okay. I will continue to write, the kids will continue to interrupt me, Sponge Bob will never shut up, and one day I will sell enough books I can afford to build an office…in a tower… with a mote.

5 thoughts on “Writing in the Midst of Chaos

  1. I understand ALL of this. My own daughter is a Spongebob fanatic, and no matter what I do, she will always interrupt me while I write. I also don’t really function well in the morning. If I want to get serious writing done in the morning,I have to get up at 5 with my husband, and allow at least two hours of coffee time before I start writing. That only gives me about an hour of actual writing before my daughter wakes up. I do much better with writing at night. It takes it’s toll, however, because I usually end up not going to bed until somewhere between midnight and two in the morning. The latest I can possibly sleep in is eight or so…so that doesn’t leave me much sleep. It’s hard juggling being a mom, and an author…and pets…and yards…and houses. You go Audra! It seems like you handle it pretty awesomely 😉


  2. Reblogged this on Pen Possessed and commented:
    This is a spectacular post about trying to juggle being a mother and an author at the same time, with all other responsibilities thrown in. A must read.


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