How I'm Coping With Homeschooling While Writing A Novel

Before Coronavirus, or COVID-19, made the country go into lockdown my husband went out to work every day and my boys went to school. From 8am to 4pm I was at home by myself and I was able to get lots of writing done, including some for the novel and some for the blog. Things changed when the lockdown began and as we enter week 8 of lockdown I've seen progress on the novel take a hit, but it's picking up again and I'm in some sort of routine. Homeschooling while writing a novel is not easy, especially when your kids need attention, but here's how I'm coping.

The start of homeschooling


Our first day of homeschooling went well, we got a routine sorted out and were able to get on with work fairly quickly. We settled into a good routine and my youngest son just got on with his school packs while I sat at my computer. However writing on the novel took a hit, it took me more than a week to get back to writing anything. Monitoring the school work and making sure we established a good routine with that was taking up all of my time. The other thing was that I was so used to being in my office alone that having my son in there with me chatting away made it difficult to be able to think about my novel at all.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Altering my routine

After a week of homeschooling I learned there are certain times during the day when my input is required less often so this is when I wrote. As long as I could get at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to think I could get started with writing, and once I'm started I can keep going. It's the blank page that always stumps me. Staring at a blank page waiting to be filled can be more overwhelming that starting half way through a chapter. So, with 10 minutes to get started I'd be off and even with interruptions I could continue and managed to make a little progress. But there's a problem with it...

Writing speech is difficult and needs a lot of thought, and when you have an 11 year old sitting nearby talking about Fortnite and what his friends do while playing the game, it can be hard to focus on what you're trying to write. On a few occasions I've just had to give up and move on rather than trying to push through and write whatever pops into my head because my characters would likely start talking about Fortnite! It's also kind of strange writing about crime and murder when I've got my son sitting nearby. I write my best work when I can have a certain atmosphere around me, for example I play sinister sounding instrumental music, or something like Dexter soundtracks, and I like it to be very quiet. That's not really possible with an 11 year old in the room. I can't really get into the right frame of mind when he's nodding his head while he listens to his favourite music, a huge grin on his face.

So, like I said, I've altered my routine. When I can have quiet around me and focus on what I'm doing I write the novel, when he needs my attention I write things for the blog.


Week 8 of lockdown

We're just starting week 8 of lockdown and although we've established a good routine I've learned it's definitely easier to write when I have quiet and can concentrate on the novel completely. When my mind is flitting from investigating a murder to answering my son's questions about Leafcutter Ants it leaves my novel feeling stilted. Admittedly it's the first draft so it doesn't necessarily matter and I'll be able to fix it later, but getting the ideas out now is important to be able to form them better later. At the moment I look forward to the times when my son is reading, he is quiet and goes into his bedroom to read which gives me a good 20 minutes or so to write what I can. I get plenty done in that time and can focus on what I'm doing. 

It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.

P. D. James

We CAN cope!

I may sound like I'm complaining that I've got the family home and in a way I guess I am, it certainly makes it harder to write, but truthfully it's been lovely having the boys home. Now I'm not going to tell a lie and say it's all been brilliant, I think we're all getting to that time where we need a break, we need time away from each other, but it's nice to have everyone here. Most importantly it's great that none of us have been ill - apart from what I thought was flu at the start of the pandemic. I'll keep coping by having a routine and fitting in writing when I can, I'll sneak time alone by hiding in the bathroom or going for a walk and I know there's always games to keep the boys busy.

We will get there, and when we do we'll be able to look back on this time and see we did the very best we could.

How are you coping with homeschooling?

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