I’m feeling very cool today, because I the AMAZING Holly Seddon has written a post about how she fits in writing books around her kids. Oh, and not just any books, but blooming amazing, gripping books, that you can’t put down!
How do you write books when you’ve got lots of kids?
I get asked this question a lot. I understand why, I do. I have four children, which – in 2016 – is not the norm. It’s a curiosity. Add in the fact that being an author is also a curiosity and I understand why a lot of questions spring up from the Venn diagram of big family + author.
I don’t think there’s anything murkier beneath the furrowed brows and logistical questions. It’s not about mums, or dads. It’s about time and headspace. I think.
So, how do you write books when you’ve got lots of kids?
The same way you write books when you have lots of dogs. Or lots of hours of overtime. Or lots of uni essays to write. Or all of the above. You have to choose to.
That sounds flippant. But I don’t know how else to explain it. It doesn’t just happen. You have to choose it, put it above other stuff, plan for it.
The fact is, having kids is an ah-mazing excuse to get out of almost anything. The more kids, the more excuses. They get ill. They’re tiring. They have endless rounds of school trips and parents’ evenings and tooth fairy requirements and on and on and on. They can get you out of work engagements at the last minute and they can get you out of social engagements whenever you’d rather stay in your jammies (almost every time, for me).
So if you want your children to give you an excuse to not sit down and write the book you’ve always wanted to write, there you go. Wish granted. I do wonder sometimes if that’s why people are asking. To work out why I have and they haven’t. Because they’d really love to ‘but’… Perhaps they hope my answer might be “I have a full time nanny” (God, I wish). Or “my husband is a stay-at-home dad but also, somehow, a billionaire” (nope) or, I don’t know, “I shut my kids in the cellar” (I promise I don’t).
The truth is: It’s really hard but it’s worth it. I prioritise. I make little changes. My husband and I take it in turns to have lie-ins at the weekend. I use mine to write. I write every evening. I write when the kids are in bed. I write when the baby naps. Sometimes I can’t sleep and I get up in the middle of the night or at dawn and write.
I’m very, very lucky. I am very privileged. I don’t deny it’s easier for me than many.
My husband is a rock god of supportive partners and I’ve managed to be freelance i.e. flexible working for a while now. That helps immensely. But I used to work in a full time job when I had three kids, and I did other stuff too like Open Uni (we all have other stuff) and it was at my busiest that I wrote the first draft of Try Not to Breathe. I had to be selfish, actually. I had to be indulgent. Taking myself off to the bedroom to write while the kids played, writing with headphones in while my husband played Fifa or watched something that didn’t interest me. Going for dog walks and paying zero attention as I tapped dialogue into my note on my phone.
Four kids, three kids, two kids, no kids, there’s always a way to not write but even if it’s only 100 words a day, there’s also always a way to write. And I’m not going to pretend otherwise. So if you have a story in you, choose to let it out. Even if it takes you years.
Holly’s latest book Try Not To Breathe is now available in the US.