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ESSAY — Writer’s Rituals – after kids

It’s Angela here — and we’re talking about Writer’s Rituals – after kids

You can stop laughing now.

Writer’s Rituals – think deep cleansing breath, pondering bamboo fronds and Zen gardens in quiet meditation, or, pounding the keyboard while screaming and general chaos occurs in the next room.

You can guess which one we roll with.

In my attempt to update this post, I tried to figure out the kids’ ages, and whether or not the table is still primarily occupied by laundry and the sofa still primarily occupied by dinner dishes to see if there’s been any improvement… and, I have to say, not really.

I think we’re at the point where most of the dishes are now *under* the sofa and the kids run around scavenging for food.

So pack your paper plates, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

A couple years ago I wrote about my rituals as a writer, or how I ‘get into the zone.’  This seems to be the kind of thing writers like to write about, often it involves soft lighting, mood music and green tea. At that time I had three children under age five, so my ritual involved shoving dishes out of the way and setting up my laptop on my dinner table, writing ‘til the kids’ screaming got too loud.

Now we have FOUR children under the age of eight, only two in school, and the baby’s not yet 18 months. So now my ritual involves shoving mountains of laundry out of the way and setting up my laptop on that same dinner table; only this time ‘round there’s no dishes, because the table’s too full of laundry waiting to be folded and put away. Permanently. We eat on the sofa instead.

I used to wake up early to write, and in some kind of twisted conspiracy, no matter how quiet I was, the kids woke up soon after I did. 3 am, 2:30, it didn’t matter. I gave up tiptoeing to the coffee pot, crossed my legs and tried to write. But as soon as I turned my laptop on, I’d hear little feet shuffling. It’s as though they could hear me typing, and wanted to join the party.

So now my ritual involves late nights, a sleeping toddler draped across my lap, typing with one hand while trying to remember everything I came up with during the day while I cooked dinner, scrubbed dishes, and chased the kids around. If I’m lucky I jotted something down on a steno pad, and if I’m luckier I can actually find that same steno pad. Added bonus if the kids didn’t scribble on my notes.

I do a lot of mental ass-kicking to get myself off the sofa and on the laptop. Quotes from Stephen King’s On Writing come to mind – I need to do my 2K every day. Starting’s the hardest part. If I sit down and start typing, something soon comes, even this lousy blog post; but hey, I’m writing.

On a good day I’m working on something bigger – short stories, a novel, non-fiction, kids’ stuff. On a crappy day I’m tired because my kids have given up sleep forevermore and I can barely remember my own name, let alone formulate sentences and paragraphs.

But still. I keep going, because I have to. Writing’s what keeps me sane.


PS. This post was typed single-handedly (literally) at 11:30 pm with a toddler draped across my chest. She’d wake up screaming every time I tried to put her down. C’est la vie.


Angela is a recovering mommy blogger and copywriter. She spends her time hanging out at Twisted Sister and fun places like that.


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