Writing During the Summer . . . With Kids

Fowl Language

The previous summers weren’t like this one.  My son would have school to make sure he didn’t have any regression.  He was eligible for it this summer too, but we had already signed him up for a half-day program that ran through July.  Even after we found out, we thought this program would be better.  Besides, I could do things with him to help prevent regression.  He showed me some online games that include math and the library has a big reading program.  It isn’t like I have anything else to . . . Oh yeah, I’m also a stay-at-home author.

I knew this challenge was coming, which is why I was working so hard from January to the end of June.  Write 3 books, published one, edited the others a few times, and busted my butt to make sure I didn’t have anything hanging over my head for the 2 months of summer break.  It wasn’t pretty, but I maintain that the experience was worth it and I was able to relax a little during the days my son had his program.  Leaving myself the Raven finale and outlining wasn’t bad since those are low pressure projects.  That was basically what I had to do here.  Put parenthood to the forefront and maintain my social media presence as an author.  Releasing Quest of the Brokenhearted was the biggest event that I had to contend with.

Honestly, I think most of the pressure of balancing working from home and a kid was coming from outside forces.  Allowed to relax and focus, I could work at the table while my son played with his toys during the hotter parts of the day.  Before and after that, we’d go on trips or play outside.  Sure, I couldn’t take on my projects with gusto and dump an entire week into work.  Things that require full concentration weren’t going to happen, but many people acted like my son was going to be a whirling dervish of destruction in terms of my schedule.  Since I only have the one kid, it’s a lot easier to plan around him.  This is just me though because I do know people with multiple kids who have to do a much bigger juggling act than me.  My hat is off to them and I wish them many nights of blissful sleep in their future.

Because I know others who are in worse spots than me, I feel like I can’t complain about keeping one kid at bay.  It does get frustrating when my email, tweet notifications, and blog comments build up.  Yet, I figure many people are busy during the summer, so delayed responses are expected.  I mean, we’re all trying to enjoy the weather or the break if we can.  Not to mention, I can’t exactly hand my son off to someone or plop him in front of a video game.  Some people would say that the second thing is an option, but I’m not a fan of that.  If he’s going to play a game then I’ll be joining him and I don’t want him in front of a screen all day.  Not unless the weather is really bad and even then I’d prefer we play with Legos and board games.  I decided to be the stay-at-home parent, which means I have to do the job.

Battering myself earlier in the year definitely made this easier, but it’s something that I shouldn’t try again.  At the very least, I need to take a week off between projects to get my head back together.  Not my son’s breaks because I can’t really rest during those periods, but ones where there are fewer people around.  I did it a little, but it was more because there were so many events going on during those weeks.  Didn’t make any sense to force writing when my mind was elsewhere.  That’s the main point of the summer too.  I could tackle the next War of Nytefall first draft since Volumes 1-3 are done.  Yet, I wouldn’t be fully invested in it.  Taking on the Raven finale was fine and starting in on the next Ichabod Brooks collection is something I could easily pause.  Again, we come down to priorities and that means putting my ego and own wants aside.

So, what do other people do during the summer?  Is it a time of slowing down and a shift in focus?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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36 Responses to Writing During the Summer . . . With Kids

  1. I think it’s fantastic that you’re putting your time with your son first over the Summer. I know that means notifications and things can sometimes build up, but so what? The notifications and things will be there later.

    Since the only kids I have are the furry kind, Summer breaks and things like that don’t really come in to it for me. The main difference for me is what I’ll potentially be doing during my non-writing time.

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    • My only worry is that it’ll lead to a race of work in September. I barely have my nights too for some reason. So, the summer definitely isn’t going as planned where I’d have a little work time.

      Do the furry ones get in the way of writing that often? I can see a dog or cat being easier to reason with than a nine-year-old. 😁

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      • Just try not to stress over it. I know that’s easier said than done – especially given the people who are often on your case – but try. It only makes things harder to deal with.

        The chinchillas and degu don’t. They’re happy for me to just spend a little time with them when I’m taking a break, as long as they have food, water, their toys, and the TV to watch. There’s the odd time one of them will start squealing for attention, but it doesn’t happen often, and is easily resolved as a rule.

        The dog, on the other hand, is like having a toddler. If she’s napping, or I can get her engrossed in something – rawhide shoes are good for this – I can get things done. She’s usually demanding attention when she’s awake though, which means I either stop working all together to play with her, or only perform tasks that can be done while playing tuggy or throwing a ball. Honestly, if she’s awake and wanting to play, it’s easier to just go play with her. If I don’t, chances are she’ll just get in to something she shouldn’t, which means I’ll end up stopping what I was doing anyhow, but also have to deal with whatever chaos she’s caused.

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      • It’s a lose/lose situation at times. People assume I’m quitting or failed if I’m not working until exhaustion. If I do work that hard then I get flack for not spending any time to relax. Drives me nuts.

        The dog does sound very much like a toddler. I’ve been told both are able to learn how to entertain themselves, but I haven’t seen it. If only kids had more degu moments than dog days. 🙂

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      • Yeah… I wish the degu would teach the dog to be more like him sometimes. 😉

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  2. Darcy Branwyn says:

    I was going to say something about being a stay at home writer with three kids and one who is currently being home-schooled, but nah…. You put out way more writing than I do, so I’d say you’re doing a great job balancing things. Me, not so much with the balance, which might be why I don’t really sell books, but then again I stopped caring about numbers awhile ago. My kids will only be with me for a time, and I’ll still have years to devote to my writing once they’ve grown up.

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    • Honestly, I’ve done very little this summer. I’m going to have to work hard in September, which I was hoping to avoid. I really wore myself down going nuts for the first half of the year, so I don’t know if I have it in me to do it again. The thing here is that it isn’t my son who causes the most distractions. Tends to be the other adults. For example, he’s been playing with Legos all day and I’ve had to sit around handling constant distractions. Can’t use my headphones since I need to hear him. So, I’m sensing that summer is a major wash for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Darcy Branwyn says:

        You’re still doing more than me. Yeah, adults are definitely a distraction, which is why I don’t have many these days. I know that sounds terrible but as an introvert, how many people do I need? Turned out, I didn’t need very many. I’m now known in my little town by a variety of rumors running around the gossip mill because I don’t really talk to anyone and they don’t bother to ask me what’s up. Oh, well. The gossip gives my MIL something to do.

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      • With the adults, it’s more a lack of respect for what I’m doing too. My son just wants to play, so I get that he doesn’t understand that I’m working. He’s good about waiting a few minutes for me to hit a decent pause point too. The adults just start talking to me or plant themselves in the same room, which leads to conversations that I feel obligated to go along with. By the time night falls, I’m usually too exhausted and annoyed to do anything more than stare at a blank page.

        Guess it’s a good thing that your MIL is kept occupied.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Darcy Branwyn says:

        I’ve experienced that disrespect, like what you do doesn’t matter, or you can always work some other time. I used to know this lady who would drop by with her three kids unannounced with a pizza and stay all day. I was always wondering why she didn’t have anything better to do.
        My MIL should be a writer, what with all the stories she tells. Bet she’d have more success at it than I do.

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      • I don’t know what it is about an author creating writing time that draws adults to them. At this rate, I’m going to have to start over with my editing because I need to make sure continuity works. All I remember is that my two heroes were talking a lot about their personal lives. It’s the Bedlam series, so things are always wild there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Darcy Branwyn says:

        I just cut some dialogue because two of my characters had the same conversation twice. Oops…. that’s what happens when writers get disrupted.

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      • I’ve had shopping list items and other things turn up in my writing. It’s rather frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Darcy Branwyn says:

        That’s funny. I type notes here and there when I write and sometimes I find them later. They usually make no sense.

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  3. Since I don’t have kids my life is a lot easier. I do have a puppy which is a little like a kid but I certainly feel for you. My summer is like the rest of the year. A thousand words a day and that does it. I don’t push for more since I know my own capabilities. I always seem to end on a high note each day. Cudos on keeping the kid off the screen all day.

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  4. I always make time for my kids. It fades away too fast. My daughter was the worst for eating into my writing time, but I don’t regret a minute of it. Summer used to be my down time, but 2018 didn’t work out that way. I have this story in me that has to come out. I hope to write four micros after that, then spend some time on my reading list for the rest of the year.

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  5. L. Marie says:

    It’s tough, isn’t it, trying to write and parent in the summer.

    Everyone I know seems in vacation mode or are moving to a new place. I’m having to wait for feedback on some projects. A lot of things seem to slow down in August as people gear up for the push to return to school.

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    • The balancing act wouldn’t be so bad if I could get some consistent nights and weekends. Those tend to fall to chores or exhaustion.

      August seems to just die for me. Gets worse every year too. Talking more writing and sales than anything else.

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  6. I’m a school staffer, so I’m just as much “FREEDOM!!” as the kids are when summer starts. But I’m an adult, so I do things like yard work and biking instead of going to the school. Other things, like my morning yoga and blog, remain constant no matter what.

    That said, I usually have a summer project for my writing. Some years it’s a new novel that I want to get ten chapters in by the end of break. Sometimes it’s a novel I’ve been working on that feels slow, and I can go back over it with full concentration. Get it moving if it needs to.

    This summer, my project was a novella, and I finished the first draft last week. I’m working on revisions, but this weekend is a science fiction convention that will completely occupy me starting Thursday. I still have 2 weeks left of summer break after that, though. I expect to complete the second draft before school gets back in.

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    • I’m always hoping for some constants throughout my week, but it never seems to happen. The only summer project I had was the October story, but I feel like that’s just tying up a loose end. Next year, if I’m still able to write, is going to be tough since I won’t have a lot of time to get a full novel written. I might have to turn to editing or outlining only, which brings on the ‘time to quit’ chorus.

      Congrats on finishing your novella draft. The science fiction convention sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck with the drafts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know this “quit chorus” is an ongoing issue for you. I remember when my son was a young teen and ran away from home several times, acted impossible when he was here… My writer friends would say, “How can you even keep writing?” I told them, “He doesn’t get to take my art from me.” Looking back at the novel I was writing then, his anger definitely came through in the main character, a young teen. Still, I hope you never let your family members take your art from you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They keep thinking I can always write again when I retire from a 9-5 job. It shows they see it as a hobby instead of a career. My son tends to be the one who tries to give me time.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Awww, what a great kid.

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  7. What is this “winding down” thing you talk about?

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  8. Jennie says:

    Bravo to you, Charles. Parenting is the hardest job and you are doing it well. You’re right, it’s priorities.

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