Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Writing - with Kids

While the official start of summer is still two weeks away, writers with kids newly freed from school may already be wondering if they'll ever write again. At least that's how I felt every June about this time. I was fortunate to stay home with our kids, and there were a couple of really frustrating summers early in my writing career (and boy, am I using that term loosely). I drove myself crazy trying to follow the old "write every day" advice. Why wouldn't my kids cooperate?!

But my dad had his own advice:  Enjoy your kids. They won't be little forever.

So I gave myself permission to take my own summer breaks. Play with the kids. Enjoy life. Store up memories. 

Back then, I was specializing in rejected picture book manuscripts. But I also submitted lots of poetry to kids' magazines, much of which was accepted (Thank you, Carus!). Oddly enough, I wrote MORE poems during those summers than at any other time ... usually after getting the kids to bed. We'd say our nighty-nights, then I'd spend an hour or so deciphering odd snippets of rhyme from the sticky notes I'd been slapping onto my desk throughout the day.

So if you're ankle deep in Legos and Play-Doh and soap bubbles and sidewalk chalk right now, relax and enjoy. But keep your eyes and ears and hearts open. And take notes.

If you're more determined than I was to keep your writing front and center through these summer days,  here are tips and advice from others who have found ways to make it work:

In the end, you have to do whatever works for YOU. Good luck!

Jill Esbaum

P.S. Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of Joan Bransfield Graham's The Poem That Will Not End:  Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices.

P.P.S. Two books I've written are part of a new series from National Geographic especially for 3-6 year olds. Hitting shelves June 25th are Explore My World:  Penguins, and Explore My World:  Snow Leopards. Watch for them!  :)


  1. Thanks for these links, Jill.
    I've already passed them along to several of my Mom Writers.
    Katherine Paterson's words continue to fortify me.
    (I'll check BEYOND THE GATES OF EXCELLENCE for the exacting wording) - but - they read something like, "The very people who take you away from your writing are the very people who give you your stories."

  2. I so agree with that quote, Esther.

  3. TERRIFIC advice, Jill. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. I do not have children under foot, but I still find excuses...don't those closets need cleaning? Maybe little snippets would help. Take 5 and write.

  5. I still find excuses, too, Margaret. And then, when I AM writing, I find that every time I get stuck, my first instinct is to pop out of my chair and find something else to do. I need Superglue.

  6. Wonderful words of advice, Jill and Esther. The childhoods of our children pass so quickly! Any suggestions for how to get back into the rhythm of writing AFTER the summer is over?

  7. BIC, Patty!
    Seriously, though, taking time "off" can lead to trouble. For me, easing back into writing - adding time each day - worked better than trying to jump right into full days.

  8. I came upon this new book at the University of Chicago Press booth at Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend:

    A Story Larger Than Life
    Women Writers Look Back on Their Lives and Careers
    Edited by Janet Burroway

    Paging through, it's relevant to Jill's post and our readers' comments.

  9. You're welcome, Andrea! Good luck with your writing. :)

  10. I love the humanity in this post, Jill. I know it's been said, but when we die, what's going to matter the most: the books we've published or the people we've loved?

  11. P.S: LOVE the photos of your kids playing with the water hose,Jill!


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