how a poem gets written (by a homeschooling mom of five)

People are always asking me how I get things written at all with having 5 kids–my primary answer is “persistence”
But I thought it may be interesting to share a day in my life where I got a poem finished. I think you will find it a little different from the advice I’ve seen from some male writers, who devote the first 3 hours of their day to coffee and writing!

Random Thursday in My Life:
4:45AM: The 2 year old wakes up because he hears his dad leaving for his morning workout. I change him and put him in my bed.
5:00AM: 5 year old wakes up from an accident. I change her and put her in my bed.
6:00AM: 5 year old is Starving, so we go downstairs for breakfast, and coffee for me. The other three meander down. I attempt to do my bible study while simultaneously having morning cuddles with 5yo.
7:30AM: I get dressed, get the 2yo dressed, make sure everyone has brushed teeth and hair. Miraculously, the 5yo dresses herself today! At some point I run a load of dishes and laundry and check to see if the kids did their chores.
8:00AM: Second breakfast for some, first breakfast for others. We have our morning time homeschool, which today consisted of reviewing our memory poem (The Tyger, Blake), learning our new poem (The Crocodile, Carroll), reviewing scripture memory work, our history readings, animal science readings, grammar review, prayer, and half of “As You Like It” from E. Nesbit’s Beautiful Tales from Shakespeare. I put on our homeschool playlist from spotify, so we can listen to some hymns and classical music while transitioning to the rest of our day.
9:30AM: We run a quick errand to make a return, then spend an hour at the library.
10:30AM: Toddler woke up too early, so has a melt down at the library, and we scurry home for an early lunch, and to finish the rest of our schoolwork.
11:30AM: I set my oldest up to make some cookies for an event tomorrow, put on the math video lesson for my 2nd grader because she’s struggling with a concept, check my oldest two kids work (I hover around and help them as they need it, but they are fairly independent). The toddler and 5 year old also watch the math video and my toddler falls asleep.
12:30PM: Lunch for me, quiet rest time for the others (which means reading, playing quietly, or listening to audio books). I usually set a timer for an hour to keep us on track, and I work on teaching my online classes, writing, blogging, etc.
1:30PM: Piano practice! I get the toddler up from nap, everyone out the door and to our piano teacher’s house. We stay an hour while the oldest two take piano lessons, and I get some time with my 2nd grader and her reading practice while the two youngest play.
2:00PM: Reading practice is done, and the three youngest are playing. I read a few poems from an anthology, then finish writing a poem I’ve been working on this week. I usually write a line or two a day, and rearrange stanzas, edit, as I go along. Today the poem felt finished, so I’ll type it up tonight (I always draft by hand–it’s very messy).

I could go on with the rest of the day (return home, dinner time, playtime, read-aloud as a family time, etc.), but since this blog is about the writing life, I figured I’d stop at the poem.

Sometimes I start a poem and write it all in one fell swoop, but more often I write a poem a little bit at a time over the course of some days.

Sometimes the poem doesn’t pan out at all, and I give up on the draft. (This happens quite often).

The thing that works for me, about being a poet, is that I can dip into and out of a poem fairly quickly; whereas when I write fiction, I feel like I need hours and hours (I mean, there’s a lot more words involved, you know?).

So that is how it is done (for me)(in this season of life!)

How do you get your writing done?


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