Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Writer's Wednesday : Writing Around the Kids

PHS's own Jenna Bayley-Burke makes her first return to the blogazine post-baby in a valiant attempt to write something.

How do you manage to write an entire book in your ninth month of pregnancy? You know, I just did it and still I'm not sure. It's one of those things you do, and then try to figure out later. Or not.

I'm through trying to figure out the formula of this writing gig. Words are magic and when you're lucky enough to have them flow from your mind through your fingers and into book form, I vote we just say thank you.

Of course, my new rejection of formula has two causes. One, trying to write any other way than my own drives me bananas. And two, I don't have time to work out someone else's way anymore. I think the third baby has pushed me right over the edge from managing to verging on collapse! But it's temporary. The girl baby will learn to the same time the boys do, preferably.

How do you write a book when you have three kids? Even now, with a two-week old baby laying next to me and two boistrous boys climbing about their room down the hall, I'm writing. I'll tell you a little secret. I like it. It's my 'me' time. My chance to let my mind run wild and free though my body is tethered to the small people who need me. How else am I going to manage to spend half my year in Hawaii if not in my imagination?

Motherhood is a moist occupation, but between the spit-up and the diapers and the spills and the bandaids it does allow a lot of time for thinking. While encouraging the imaginations of the kids, you do remember to allow yours a chance to play as well. I've come up with my best story ideas while my kids were around - pushing a grocery cart, watching as they ride bikes up and down the street, at the park. There are spare moments to think through stories...well, scenes anyway.

How do you get started writing after taking time off? When I'm having trouble, I start small. Blog posts. Short stories. Scenes. I'll work my way up from there. If that isn't working there is the cannonball method. Just do it.

I've stepped away from writing for lots of reasons. Depression, rejection, vacation...lots of -ion excuses, I suppose. What always brings me back is the need to tell a story. What better way to do that then to simply start writing? Let the story take you where it will and sort it out later. I know that is mortifying to the plotters in the world, but the thrill of it is worth every moment of panic. After all, to make it all the way across the country, you only need to be able to see as far as your headlights shine.

Where do you find the time? I write for an hour and a half a day...when the kidlets are on a schedule. a half hour at naptime and an hour after bedtime. Any other computer work has to be done around that, as does most everything else. And...if you are reading this, you have time to think through a scene. You know...right now!

Jenna is hard at work on her next title for Mills & Boon Modern Heat. In the meantime, Her Cinderella Complex is available with a millionaire, secretary, engagement of convenience, private island, and a hot pool scene. To find out what Jenna is up to now...check out her website or blog


  1. Jenna

    Those baby pictures are adorable - and aren't your boys handsome.

    Now I have to admit I totally take my hat off to anyone who can write with young children around. I couldn't do it. Truth be told, my boys are now 10 and 15, nowhere near as moist as they used to be and I still find it a challenge. But, the funny thing is, when I have all day to write I usually get less productive work done than when I'm writing under pressure - having to revise a whole novel in two weeks for example. Go figure.

  2. I used to write from I put my children to bed, so at about 8.00pm. Now, they are 15, 14, 12, 11 and 9, I find I've lost my evenings, am a taxi service and we hit the last homework crisis at about 10.00pm. I'm definitely a night person so writing before midday is never very productive.

    But, yes, 'tis nice they're not so moist. vbg

  3. Thanks for this post Jenna! Very encouraging... and it's true you have to steal time. But half an hour during the day and an hour post bedtime is definately managable.

    I'm expecting number three and so... well... I read with much interest.

  4. I have better baby pics now...she's getting more camera friendly every day! Though I'm blaming her for my lack of synopsis production. Forget that I've always had a problem writing the beasts. They aren't done because my baby and preschooler refuse to sleep at the same time. That's my story and I'm sticking to it like maple syrup on the boy's hands!

  5. Oh Jenna that baby girl is so precious! And I agree with you about method - most of the time it is just magic pouring from your brain through your fingers. So yes a big thank you to that. :)

  6. Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby girl, Jenna!


  7. Jenna, I started writing last year when my newborn twins were up throughout the night. So there I was a twin on one boob, other in the lap with a bottle and me typing one handed at 2am. It was interesting, but I kept with it. It's hard though when you get a story idea and really want to get it down, Murphys Law states though at the exact moment you want to write it down a disaster or three will crop up and threaten your sanity. By the time you fix everything up because you are the fixit woman, your idea has flown the coop. I've tried using a mini tape recorder to overcome this but then the twinlings or Mister 3 get hold of it and whammo, you needn't have bothered.