Finding A Room of My Own

by Michelle McCann
Published on: March 7, 2012
Comments: 1 Comment

For months I’ve been struggling to find time to write in my working-mom-juggling life. I’ve tried writing at home, but there are too many interruptions and distractions. I’ve tried writing at a coffee shop, but I feel guilty if I stay more than a couple hours, which is about how long it takes my brain to get moving.

I have been intrigued by the strategy of fellow Scriva, Liz, who also has kids and a busy work-at-home life. She has a full writing day once a week, away from home. She begins her writing day with exercise (to clear her head and get into the writing mindset), then she walks to the library and writes on her laptop—undisturbed by phone calls, emails, children, husband—for eight hours!

Doesn’t that sound glorious!?!

Well it did to me, so I thought I should give it a try and see what happens. But I had a number of challenges to solve: what to do with my kids and where to do my writing.

First, I found a Boys and Girls Club in our neighborhood and discovered that for $5 a year my kids can take the bus from school to their facility. There they do their homework, play in the gym, read, whatever until my husband picks them up. My clearly sheltered kids were a bit horrified by this option when we took our tour (“Mom, it’s so loud and crazy!”), but they’re on week three now and so far they haven’t been stabbed or gotten lice. I keep reminding myself, “It’s good for them!”

Second challenge—where to write. Lucky Liz lives close to the downtown library with its wonderfully quiet Writer’s Room, so she can walk there and doesn’t have to pay for parking. Not an option for me, so I found a library close by that has street parking and plenty of tables to write at.

Challenges solved, I packed up my laptop and some snacks, and I headed off to write. My plan? To sit, butt-in-chair, and put words on the screen from noon (when they opened) until 8pm. The first trip was a learning experience. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Be thoughtful about your snacks. Within a few hours I craved something besides the gorp I’d brought, which of course distracted me, so I had to waste time walking to a store for new snacks.
  2. Don’t forget the coffee. After I drank the cup I’d come with, it was pretty much all I could think about. Yet another reason to stop writing—must go buy cups of coffee.
  3. Bring an iPod. While there were plenty of tables to sit at, none were empty. I was always sharing space with someone who was either watching TV on their laptop (why come to the library for that?) or playing a videogame. I was easily distracted by the soccer game or sitcom next door.
  4. Think about your butt. Those chairs at the library are unpadded. After a couple hours my butt cheeks were numb. Another excuse to get up and browse the library shelves instead of writing.

Yet even with the distractions, I was amazed at how much writing I got done in eight hours. The next week I went back armed with a grocery bag of snacks, thermos of coffee, butt pillow and iPod mix. Lo and behold, I got even more writing done.

It’s working!

And even though my kids grumble a bit about the two hours they spend at the Boys & Girls Club on Wednesdays, when I mentioned a new editing project I’ll be starting soon, they asked in worried tones, “You won’t have to work on Wednesdays, will you? How will you get your writing done?”

So if you, too, are having difficulty making the time and space to write, why not give it a try? Just don’t forget your butt pillow!

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  1. ScrivaRuth says:

    Great blog post. I also find that writing in a space outside your house–no matter how inviting that in-house space might be– can boost productivity. Thanks for the tips, especially about the butt pillow. I usually wind up sitting on my jacket or my computer case. Next time I’ll bring a pillow. Why not?

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