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A Typical Writing Day...

One of the most common questions I get in blog interviews is something along the lines of “What’s a typical writing day for you like?” Usually I end up saying, “I mostly write at night.” I say this because I figure most people that ask only want to hear about the writing part of the writing day. Or I assume they have this vision of a writer alone in a room, thinking writerly thoughts, or going for walks, thinking about writerly things, and I don't want to ruin that vision. It looks so calm and peaceful in my head.

But I think a lot of writers are like me—they have jobs or kids or jobs and kids or other responsibilities that they work their writing around. Me? I have kids. The day I documented this, they were 5 and 1-day-shy-of-4.

So, right, I planned to document my writing day. Partly because of this question, but also because I was kind of curious….I mean, what do I really do all day? So I set this past Monday as the day to document because Kid #2 is in preschool that day, which means it’s technically a “writing day.” At least more so than a Tuesday.

I currently have copy-edits for my 2013 book. I had already finished one pass and was ready to address the items that I had sticky-noted. On Sunday night, it looked like this:

Sunday night, it also became obvious that Kid #1 would not be going to school (for reasons I shall leave to the imagination). I thought about postponing the blogging, but then I realized that since January there’s pretty much been a 50% chance that one kid would be home from school/get sent home from school/be of questionable disposition. So I guess this qualifies as “typical.” So. Here goes.

The upside of not having to get Kid #1 to the bus stop before sunrise is that I don’t have to wake up at 6:20. I turn off my alarm.

Kid #2 wakes up:

Kid #1 wakes up:


7:15: The kids want breakfast. I assume that the fact that Kid #1 wants breakfast is a good sign. I give them breakfast. I answer emails.

8:10: Kid #2 announces he wants to be a “seeker” when he grows up, which, according to him, is a person who looks at other people and runs away when they see him. I inform him that the word he is looking for is “creepy,” and he cannot, under any circumstance, be creepy when he grows up. This quickly deteriorates into an argument over whether or not he can, in fact, be anything he wants when he grows up.

8:40: We get in the car.

8:41: For reasons I will spare you (but let’s just say that Kid #1 wanting breakfast was actually NOT a good sign), we get out of the car. When we get back in the car, my daughter is carrying a plastic bag. I actually did take a picture of this, but I feel like in about 6 years she might find this blog post, and if she doesn’t hate me by then, this might push her over the edge.

But you can imagine.

As I’m taking this picture that I’m choosing not to post, I flash back to driving with my grandpa who would make my cousin (who had a history of carsick-ness) wear a plastic bag with the handles over his ears. I start to giggle. I don’t stop giggling until we arrive at preschool. Kid #1 is not amused.

Drop Kid #2 off at preschool. Preschool starts at 9. It would appear that we are 7 minutes late. But I’m usually 10 minutes early, so really it’s more like 17 minutes late. I hate being late. Deep breaths.

9:30-11: I put a movie on for Kid #1 and plow through 60 pages of copy edits. Not bad.

11:15: I research pay phones (it’s relevant to the manuscript, I swear)

11:40: Leave to pick up Kid #2 from preschool. Kid #1 carries a plastic bag.

12:24: My mother texts me with some News and to discuss her feelings about said News. It’s a situation very near and dear to our hearts, and we’ve been following the coverage closely over the last few weeks.

Notice she’s on a first name basis with Peyton Manning. Notice also the typo.

Early afternoon: attempt to keep kids separate so Kid #1 does not infect Kid #2, especially since Kid #2’s birthday is tomorrow. Tell Kid #2 not to touch Kid #1 because if he does he’ll get sick and he won’t get to eat birthday cake. Kid #2 says he already touched her and starts to cry. Attempt to take back words while simultaneously explaining probability to a crying almost-4-year-old. Fail.

Kid #1 says, “I don’t get cake?” Cries.

2:30: I research tox screens (also relevant to the manuscript) through the crying

Take kids outside. Kid #1 sits on my lap because she can’t do much else at the moment. As the youngest, Kid #2 is used to getting first dibs on the lap.

Kid #2 retaliates by pulling the tulips from the garden:

I retaliate by throwing out his lollipop (lest you think this shocking display of immaturity is a one-time thing, sadly, it is not)

Kid #1 falls asleep. I research signs of dehydration (not relevant to the manuscript)

Dinner, baths, bed.

7:30-10:30: I work on copyedits. Then I realize Kid #2 is going to be up at the crack of dawn for his birthday and I need to have my game face on. I stop working.

Not bad. Not done, but not bad, all things considered.

So. There it is.

How about you?

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Reader Comments (9)

Oh, hey, you wrote my life. Well, my summer and break week life anyway. *hugs* to the sick kids (without touching), and I laughed actually out loud several times while reading this (to the point that I had to read sections aloud to others in the room lest they believe me to be crazy.)
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElissa J. Hoole
I have a theory that all this multi-tasking is what makes us writer moms such good writers. After juggling a sick kid, birthday party and a preschooler, copy edits probably seem much more manageable.
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBethany Hagen
Wow, busy schedule. This is the first I've heard of your 2013 book. Glad to hear another one is the works :-)
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPetra
Oh boy, kudos to writing with kids, esp. sick kids. Mine are all in school so you'd think they wouldn't disrupt my writing during the day, but somehow they manage.
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Shaw Wolf
Wow. This is crazy. I also have two kids. My daughter is 5 and my son just turned 4 yesterday, March 20th, too! Wow! He finally just got a spot at my daughter's preschool so I get to have "writing days" too. It was getting to the point where I basically got nothing done when they were home so yay!
Your post is proof that I can find the time to actually write/revise/finish an entire book with two kids at home. Also, it was entertaining. Thanks.
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Smith
Is it wrong that I laughed my whole way through this . . . especially since I don't have kids? Love this insight into other authors' lives!
March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy Colbert
ok, this is classic:

I inform him that the word he is looking for is “creepy,” and he cannot, under any circumstance, be creepy when he grows up. This quickly deteriorates into an argument over whether or not he can, in fact, be anything he wants when he grows up
March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentererica
You made me laugh so hard I cried. Then I shared with the hubby and he was in hysterics too. Thank you for the smiles and laughter for my day, even if it was at the expense of your sanity.
March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRhiannon
Elissa & Jennifer - I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone! I mean, not that I'm glad for your distractions...but....yeah, glad to know we're all in it together :)

Bethany - I totally agree! Having kids prepares me for pretty much anything, now.

Petra - Thanks! I'll post some details about it soon-ish :)

Leigh - Oh, what a coincidence! Definitely...it can definitely be done. Preschool for the youngest will change your life, I promise! Haha, at least it did for me.

Brandy, Erica, & Rhiannon - thank you! Feel free to laugh at my expense. It's funny to me, too...now that it's over :D
March 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterMegan Miranda

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