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The Writing (Grand) Parent

Copyright: Cheryl Wright – All rights reserved


As a writer, I’ve been incredibly lucky.

Both my off-spring were grown and had left home when I began writing seriously. But I was still working full-time, cleaning house, making meals, ironing – all the usual ho-hum chores of everyday life. By some wonderful twist of fate, hubby became a target shooter around the same time I became serious about my writing, and shoots every Saturday rain, hail or shine. Result: I had the house to myself for an entire day every week – twelve or thirteen hours sometimes – and I could write anything from 2,000 to 5,000 words in that time.

Aaaah, the bliss!

Then the unthinkable happened; my twenty-three year old son’s relationship with long-time fiancée broke down, and at the very moment I was in the midst of an important love scene, three toddlers (all three and under) – with dad trailing behind - arrived on the door step.

It was to be short-term – "probably two or three months" – but continues fourteen months (*update - five years!) down the track, with no likelihood of changing for a long, long time. This has impacted tremendously on my output, as you would imagine, and can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when deadlines are looming. But a few solutions have surfaced.

Just as hubby goes out to work, I have a job – writing – and I’m very adamant about instilling this information into the minds of my grandchildren. It has been explained on numerous occasions that nanny has a ‘job’, just like pa, so when nanny is ‘working’ no-one can disturb her.

Notice the terminology I’ve used; ‘job’ and ‘working’. When we work, we get money. If we don’t work, we don’t get money, and we can’t buy things. Ensuring your children or grandchildren understand these concepts in relation to your writing can make a huge difference – it certainly did for me.

For a while, I did try closing the door to my office – which was relocated to my bedroom once the ‘extras’ arrived – but the kiddies just cried and cried; resulting in them becoming distressed and me getting no work done. (Keep in mind, my son is the main care-giver, not me.) Things had to change, and change they did.

Rules were made. If the door is left open, children are not allowed to run in and out while nanny is WORKING. If they do, the door is closed. This is not an option the children like.

They are allowed to come into nanny’s office while nanny is working only if they are reasonably quiet and well-behaved; if not, they are sent out – and the door closed. They can bring some toys or paper and pen to draw, again, as long as they don’t disrupt the WORK that is going on at the time.

I’ve learned the hard way to ‘steal’ time. Before the children wake in the morning, I write. Often I don’t have breakfast until they are awake. This allows anything up to an extra hour of writing a day.

I also ensure that I write while the kiddies nap. As much as I might feel like taking a nap myself sometimes, (children can be very draining!) I’d much rather use the peace and quiet productively.

I can also catch a couple of hours writing when they go to bed at night, and often do.

A few months ago, the custody details changed. We now have the children here fifty percent of the week. That means I have much more ‘quiet’ time than before. Naturally, I take full advantage of those days without the children, but all of the aforementioned rules still apply, otherwise I would get literally nothing done while they’re here.

Interestingly, after complaining and hating the rules I’d set, they mostly ignore me now, and go about their business; playing games, drawing, watching television, dressing and feeding dolls, er, babies. Suffice to say, writing has become an easier task with the children around.

Of course, there are days when the children are just impossible and I don’t get a thing done while they’re awake, so working around their naps becomes imperative. One thing I’ve learned is that television is a major time-waster. I rarely watch television. In fact, the t.v. is hardly ever switched on, except for the children’s shows.

Next year, the oldest grandchild starts school. We will have the kiddies here five days a week, and their mother will have them for weekends only. As you can see, it’s important to my writing business and productivity to ensure that the children understand that writing is my job; that I don’t play games on the computer – as they do. (Thank goodness I have my own computer; I don’t have to share mine!)

As a writing grandparent, I’ve come to appreciate the problems that my writing friends have complained about for years. These days I even empathise!


About the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for writers.  Her publications include novels, non-fiction books, short stories, and articles. To keep up to date with her publications and new releases, visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryl-wright.com


         Last updated: August 04, 2008