Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Confessions of a Writing Mom + Giveaway

(Just to clarify, I'm giving away a book, not one of my adorable kids - sorry to disappoint!)

 I was recently musing on an old blog post I wrote about two years ago with this title. I had just started writing again after four years. I was now a wife and mother. I had two children at the time and this was my "confession":
I sit down and grab my laptop. My ten month old is sleeping and my two year old seems to be having fun with his cars.  Of course toys are everywhere, my kitchen is covered with random crumbs- both floor and counter-top, and the laundry is piling up. I probably should have done that yesterday. But here I am with fingers glued to keyboard, not caring what I write, so long as I'm writing!
As I write, a pile of clean diapers is forming beside me. Soon they cover the couch. I know I will have to deal with it at some point but at the moment all I can think is, "Good, he's happy!"
Then I smell "it" and I realize my time is up... in one minute, and I try to squeeze a few last epic words onto the page. Then, setting the computer aside before I get distracted again, I grab my kid, one of the many diapers - which may or may not be his - and head to his bedroom to find some wet-wipes.

By the time I finish with my lectures on the usefulness of the invention called a toilet - and how spider-man underwear is cooler than a diaper - I realize my daughter could wake up any moment! There is no time to spare. I race back to the laptop, talk Liam into listening to the "Piano Guys" without watching the accompanying video, remind him that it's still mommy's turn, open my word document, think about where I left off and what I need to say next, lay my fingers on the keyboard and begin to type. One word- two word-
Baby is awake.
119_1280It's cuddle time and play time. Diaper time, too. The clock soon reads somewhere between four and five. Within the next hour or so I walk around the house singing "A Spoonful of Sugar" all the time wondering how Mary Poppins got the toys to put themselves away!
No such luck.
If it's a normal day, dinner will be on the table and the house neat and somewhat orderly  by the time my sponsor/editor walks in the door. If it's a good day my hair is brushed and I'm wearing real clothes (as opposed to comfortable, fuzzy, super baggy "non real" clothes).
Either way, if a wrote something, it is a great day!
I probably enjoyed that flashback much more than any of you. Especially when I look at my present day. I now have 3 kids: a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and again, a ten-month-old. It's mid afternoon and baby boy is down for his nap! The other two are potty trained so I'm off diaper duty until he wakes up. Meanwhile, a pile of children's books form beside me - their to-read "list". We went to the Library this morning and usually come home with around twenty books. They spend the next hour or so looking at pictures and deciding what they want me to read.
Unlike two years ago, I need to do more than just write to make it a good day. I have a critique group and submissions to edit and get out to them. I have a manuscript due my publisher in a few months. More edits. More rewrites. I'm in a box-set this spring with other authors, so I also need my novella scrubbed and polished while learning the basics of indie-publishing. That's not mentioning the manuscript I want to get ready to pitch to agents this year!
How do I make it work? I'm not sure, but the following helps:
  1. Put try to put God first. I try to read my scriptures first thing in the morning, and then picture book scriptures to the kids before I open my laptop. 
  2. Put family next. In the evening, my husband. During the day, my kids. They come before writing, and I try to remind myself that constantly.   
  3. Make time for living. In the summer, I set the goal to go to the playground with the kids every day. It didn't mean I couldn't plot, or even read a book, but making sure we get out of the house and have fun as a family is important. Right now we try to go to the zoo and library at least once a week. It gives me less time to write, but it's a greater investment. 
  4. During the day if I'm not spending time with the kids, I am writing. Naps, when they are happily playing, while they are pouring over the books we just brought from the library, whether 10 minutes, or 30, I try to write or critique. The hard part is, I don't get to lock myself away in a quiet room to write. Kids are playing, asking questions, getting into mischief, and, in short, I've had to learn how to multitask.
  5. This one just reiterates the last point. I don't clean during the day, or when the kids are in bed. So when do I clean? Same as two years ago, the hour before my husband gets home, I get dinner on the stove, dishes in the sink and the kids picking up their toys out of the big pile I just swept into the middle of the floor. Other than that, if it's not gross, a choking hazard, or going to be tracked all over the house, I don't pick it up until cleaning time and then I try to involve the kids as much as possible. 
  6. No "TV" for the kids on an average day. The truth is, they could sit happily in front of the computer watching Curious George for hours, and it would be wonderful to use all that time for writing...but neither a monkey or a talking blue train get to raise my kids. The temptation is there, and I'm not giving in to it even a little because that track is too slippery. 
  7. Making time for service and church. The Sabbath is great for this. Sabbath is about God and people. Church and service there. Family time. Time to recenter myself. As a general rule, I don't write.
When I first started writing again, I needed large chunks of time, and I was often too tired in the evenings. With the Lord's help, every ten minutes at my computer can count for something and I can be productive even when I'm exhausted. All in all, so far so good. My writing is getting done, deadlines are being met, and most importantly, my children and husband aren't getting neglected...too much. ;) We'll see how things go in the fall when I add homeschooling into the mix!

What have you found works for balancing your life and writing?
Leave a comment for an e-copy of the anthology, Dancing up a Storm, which includes my short
story "When I am Gone".

“When I'm Gone” by Angela K. Couch 
First Place Romance 
Summer 1942. Just before the competition that could launch their careers as professional ballroom dancers, Elaine Mathews’s partner, James Larson, gets drafted into the army. Now, with her dreams and the man she loves hanging in the balance, Elaine must acknowledge what she’s most afraid to lose. 


  1. Great post and really inspiring, thanks for sharing, Angela

  2. Thank for popping by, Lucy. I know you are a busy mom, too! :)

  3. Isn't it an adventure? I finished the first chapter of my first novel with my then toddler boy trying to balance a mango on my head (he was waiting for me to cut it) :/ Good times... Thanks for sharing yours.

    1. :) Yep, there are moments when the kids gets to learn a little patience.

  4. Oh Angela, how I loved reading that old post. It brought me back to the days when my now nearly grown children were underfoot. Although I wasn't writing then, I still had so many tasks to juggle. As I do now. This was a real encouragement to me. I was spoiled the last two years with huge blocks of time and I need to learn to use the 15 minutes here and there on the days when I don't have blocks of time. Thank you for sharing from your heart! You are a huge blessing!

  5. Angela … great post. Love how you demonstrate your priorities. Well done. And fascinating to see the level of calm you've developed in a couple of years. I expect it has something to do with trusting in the Lord.

    1. I believe it does as well. It's amazing how everything finds a place when we put God first and let Him magnify our abilities. :)

  6. Loved your post! And it brings back so many memories for me as well. I started writing when my first born was a baby. I was a stay at home mom with no car and decided to finally write that book during nap time. Before long I had three kids four and under and was running a home daycare and was still writing during nap time and late at night. Finding that balance is tough, but as you wrote, it can be done!!

  7. Angela, great post! I'm in awe of all the writing mothers with young children who manage to juggle everything. Well done :)