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Balancing Writing & Little Ones | Tales from a New Dad | Signed Book Giveaway!

Balancing Writing & Little Ones | Tales from a New Dad | Signed Book Giveaway!

When Laura first asked me to write a guest blog post about balancing a new baby with a new book, I…

Stop writing.

The little one is crying and needs you at once. Put down the laptop, unwrap the baby burrito swaddle it took you twenty minutes to roll, and go see what all the fuss is about. It’s probably the diaper. It was the diaper fifteen minutes ago, twenty-five minutes ago, and forty minutes ago – why wouldn’t it be the diaper again? So hoist the beautiful boy up onto the changing table, and be sure to sing to him.

“♫ Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and face the strain…” ♫

When Laura first asked me to write a guest blog post about balancing…

Stop writing.

These seven wet creepers, four soaked sleepers, and two wet blankets aren’t going to wash themselves. And while you’re at it, you’ve got bottles to boil, bouncy seat batteries to replace, and nipple shields to scrub. Laugh at the fact that just two months ago, you’d never heard of the term “nipple shield,” and might’ve guessed it was part of Wonder Woman’s armor. But get this giggle out of your system quickly, because these things need to be scrubbed about five minutes ago.

Oh, and don’t forget to sing to him. He likes that, and you’ve sworn to keep him happy.

“♫ Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry…” ♫

When Laura first asked me…

Stop writing.

The little one – he’s fussing again.

But wait! Its not the diaper! So run through the checklist… Is he hungry? Is he too hot? Too cold?

No, no, and no. He’s none of those. What he is, of course, is a newborn, which by definition makes him uber-gassy and fussy because of it. There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to fully soothe him ‘til his gastro-disaster passes, and when finally his crying becomes so fierce that his lower lip begins to tremble as though he’s painfully afraid, all you can do is take his tiny hand, lean in close…

And sing.

“♫ Oo-ooh child, things are gonna get easier…” ♫

When Laura…

Stop writing.

Eight wet creepers.

Three wet blankets.

All of his bottles are dirty.

And his favorite pacifier just fell to the floor.

“♫ I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…” ♫

Okay, let’s just cut to the quick of it. Here is the key to balancing a debut novel with a brand new baby boy.

Just stop trying.

Because no matter how much you adored and believed in your novel as you were writing it, or how deeply you longed to become a published author for, oh, two decades… These emotions are dust bunnies in the tornado that is your smiley, shiny, and sometimes whiny baby boy. So just give up thinking that you can balance the baby with the book, because it’s probably not going to happen.

And this may be the best possible thing that could happen to your writing career.

Nothing annihilates the pressure of putting your novel out there for the entire literary world to see quite like a gassy newborn. See, I’ve been at this parenting gig for almost six weeks now, and I have not yet found a writing groove. Not even close. Ideally, I would be charting a flight path for a follow up novel to Thank You For Flying Air Zoe, but I barely have enough spare time and energy to write a simple shopping list – and even those are riddled with typos.

But hey, check out the totally awesome new outfit we made for our little rock star!

Here’s the thing… Making my writing a viable full-time job would be huge for this new family of ours, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen overnight. And ironically, letting go of writing as my life’s urgent mission will probably be the choice that ultimately turns me loose and makes me a better writer. The less one worries about the outcome of an endeavor, the more they can just enjoy the ride, right?

Every parent I know tells me, “It gets easier,” when talking about time management. Soon enough, they promise, the little guy will sleep longer, communicate his needs more clearly, and I will begin to reclaim at least most of the life I once knew. And once I do, I’ll have a little extra somethin’ to add wind to my creative sails.

My son. See, he’s still too young to tell me this, but he’s rooting for me to succeed, too. I’m sure of it. I just know he’s pulling for me to eventually crank out a second book.

And maybe even a second baby.

I mean hey, if I’m gonna turn my world loose, I might as well go full tilt! Just imagine what loopy and lofty heights my writing could hit with all of this dizzying new material!

When Laura first asked me to write a guest blog post about balancing a new baby with a new book, I couldn’t help but smile at the simple fact that this lovely carnival of amazing events is now my life.

“♫ And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world.” ” ♫


Erik Atwell started his writing career in the fifth grade, when his one page history class assignment ballooned into a forty-plus page fictional account of a politically controversial silversmith in 18th century Boston. From there, he moved on to writing short stories while living in New Hampshire, screenplays when he moved to California, then finally novels when he moved to Seattle, where he now lives with his rock star of a wife and all-star of an infant son. Thank You For Flying Air Zoe is his first novel, and he hopes to write a sequel before his son treks off to college. You can find him bouncing about the internet at excellent social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, but he tries to maintain a home base at www.erikatwell.com.


Are you a parent trying to balance writing with bringing up a family? Or do you have other challenges that cut into your writing time and energy?

Leave a comment about the challenges you face when writing, or any advice you might have for new Dad Erik, for a chance to win a signed copy of his fantastic book Thank You for Flying Air Zoe! (Contest ends Tuesday 13th at 11.59pm PST)




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7 thoughts on “Balancing Writing & Little Ones | Tales from a New Dad | Signed Book Giveaway!

  1. Hi Everyone… I suppose it’s fitting that it took me well over 24 hours to join in on the conversation, huh? Light at the end of the tunnel, though… This morning the little one gave me enough time to heat up a blueberry muffin, and I expect I’ll be able to find a minute to actually eat it before the end of the day!

    Little dreams seem big these days, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Thanks to you all for the excellent advice… It’s really true – basic things like cleanliness and hygiene are often sacrificed purely out of necessity, and when this is happening, it’s hard to justify spending substantial time on an arguably selfish endeavor like writing.

    I’ve tried to carry notebooks, but I ultimately end up losing them into a planetary vortex I discovered about six weeks ago. I’m sure you all know of this vortex. It is a vast galactic chasm full of lost pacifiers, missing baby socks, and forgotten brilliant ideas! 😉

    More to hopefully follow — it’s my turn at the helm of the S.S. Rugrat! Thank you all for weighing in, and I look forward to crossing paths with you all again soon! ~ Erik

  2. Love the musical references….you make me laugh!! Enjoy your time with him…I believe that it all works out in the end~and be glad that you can be with him now, instead of being a salesman on the road….or a rockstar!! The ideas are still brewing…you will be amazed at how time flies….SECOND BROTHER OR SISTER??? Whoo hoooo!!

  3. When I had my baby, I pretty much stopped doing anything. Showering, eating, sleeping ,etc. Now she’s 5 and I’ve decided that I want to realize my dreams and become the writer I always wanted to be. My daughter is older and can finally go to sleep on her own. I write nightly from 8-10. While I’m not always drafting, I’m involved in some part of the writing process.

    While it gets easier as kids grow up, there are still challenges. I carry around a little notebook than can fit in my pocket so when I get an idea, I can jot it down. I used to silently make fun of my mom for not remembering things, but there is something about being a parent that makes you forget almost everything!

    Hope that helps!

  4. It doesn’t get easier (sorry.) I’m mama to a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old, with one on the way. The more they grow, the less they sleep, and the more they whine.

    And you won’t get into a writing groove. Ever. As soon as you find one, your children will destroy it. For example, I was doing really well waking up at 4AM to write for the two hours before my kids are (supposed to) wake up. Then the oldest figured out how to unlatch his door, and started getting up at 4:30. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t bring germs home from preschool and give me a CRIPPLING upper respiratory infection.

    The good news is that challenging situations like parenthood sort out the real writers from the people who are looking for excuses not to write. You are still the smarter one, so you will adapt. You will keep notebooks in every room of the house, you will download Evernote into your phone and dictate your novel notes into it with one hand while keeping your little one from hurling himself off the dining room table with the other (because he will learn to climb up there.) You will stay up late and get up early. You will have food on your laptop keyboard because you were typing while cooking dinner. You will lock yourself in the bathroom to write.

    And it will be awesome.

    (Congratulations, best of luck!)

      • Sorry…forgot I was supposed to leave advice. Ahem. It seems we lose part of our brains once becoming a parent, but what is left there instead is so much more meaningful and fun and true…I can only say to somehow learn to write in every crack possible. But it seems you’ve already learned this. 😉

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