Ways to Write in the Middle of Chaos - Kathryn C. Lang

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Ways to Write in the Middle of Chaos

“Where is your father?” As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I’m reminded of a commercial where the kids have put the sprinkler in the living room and dad asks “where is your mother?” (For the record, the mom in the commercial is off shopping).

There’s one son in the family room bouncing the baby’s basketball. The oldest son had to get in there and fight with him – it’s a sibling thing (as I’ve tried to convince my husband who is an only child). The baby is in the pantry pulling out everything he can reach. I’m trying to block it all out and focus on what I’m writing – with some success. (Did I mention that my office is in the middle of the kitchen?”

Working at home (especially during those times when Dad is home) can be a test of talent, the ability to ignore the constant howl of “MOMMA,” and the completely trust that my husband will take care of it all (even if he is presently hiding in the bathroom).

It’s not always easy, but there are some guides that help me work.

1. Work with outlines. Don’t think about getting everything down in this first sitting. When things are crazy, then following a 1, 2, 3 format will make it easier for you to force a train of thought.

2. Set some rules for those around you. With so much going on around me, it can be difficult not to get distracted. The rule is that if I’m in the middle of writing, you have to wait until I acknowledge you. Nothing is more annoying than being interrupted during the flow of that perfect sentence, only to not be able to get it back.

3. No matter how many times you ask, or how many ways you may explain it, you are still mom. Everyone WILL expect you to know the answer, the solution, or the location of their missing items. Accept it, expect it, and deal with it.

4. Use the chaos to your benefit. Where do you think I came up with the idea for this particular article?

5. The writing has to be the focus, don’t think about the mess that was just left on the table or the dishes in the sink or the laundry sitting in the dryer. Write when it is time to write. Everything else can wait (and maybe even your husband and kids will do the chores before bed).

6. Make cards (like in soccer) with a red card being an emergency and a yellow card being a pressing need. When someone needs something from you, they can place the card on your desk.

7. Don’t wait until the last minute to do anything that you have known about. It never fails, that is the exact moment a family crisis will occur.

8. Learn to type with one hand. If there is a baby in the house, this is a skill that will come in as handy as any you have ever learned.

9. Work in spurts. Spend fifteen minutes doing some research or writing a paragraph. Spend fifteen minutes with the kids working on a project (like bath time or supper). That way they know that their moment is just around the corner. Set a timer if they need something tangible to focus on.

10. Take advantage of quiet times. If the kids are outside, or over at the grandparent’s house, use that time. It’s nice to spend a little time focused on you, but it won’t get those articles written.

Writing at home (or doing any job at home) takes some patience and adjustment – as much for your family as for yourself. If it doesn’t go smooth to start with, don’t panic. Try different ideas and ask the kids for help. Explaining to the whole family what you need to be able to do and the time that you need to do it will help you all get along a little better.


  1. Mom and Women Entrepreneur Blog Carnival - September 21, 2007

    […] Kathryn Lang presents Ways to Write in the Middle of Chaos posted at The Peculiar Club. […]

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