As a married parent of a small child and a writer of romance and erotica, it can be difficult to balance the two facets of my life. On one hand, I definitely know how babies are made. On the other hand, it’s pretty difficult to write a steamy sex scene when your kid is screaming in your ear about his string cheese.
Now, I know what it’s like to try and keep a flat expression on my face while reading a hot, hot, hot BDSM scene while on a crowded subway train. When I was in college, I’ve read erotic fanfiction while in my school’s library. I’m no stranger to balancing “real life” and a fantastic sexual fiction life.
There’s a new level of romantic balance though when you become a parent and it goes beyond making sure the door is locked before turning down the lights with your lover. Here are some of my tips for perfecting this balancing act.
Get some headphones
I have a good pair of noise-canceling headphones from a few years ago. Granted, I can’t use them when my kid is playing in the next room. That’s a quick way to end up in the emergency room with a kid with a busted head. They are great for when I manage to get him to sit down for 20 minutes while PBS is on the television.
Put your headphones on, zone in on that scene and do your best to block out the song about the letter of the day.
Set up a ritual
I once read about a writer-mom who set up a ritual to alert her children that she was working and wasn’t to be disturbed. She wore a special baseball hat every time she sat down to write. Some people can put a little “Do Not Disturb” sign on their office door. Some people can just set up their laptop at the kitchen table and the laptop conveys the message that you aren’t to be messed up. Some people play special play lists or wear headphones or just tell everyone, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Obviously, this trick is best for older children since they understand the concept of privacy a bit more but it’s worth to help you and your family know that you are in “the mode.”
Work your best times
I don’t work well in the mornings. I can’t wake up at five in the morning and get straight to work on writing a bathtub scene. I know my limitations. Yet, nap time and after bedtime is prime writing and editing time for me. I can close my bedroom door and dive right in.
Maybe your kid goes to school and you can use that time as your quiet time, maybe you are an insomniac and you have late night to work. Maybe you have to fit reading and writing in during your lunch break at work. Work with what you have but try to make sure your kid isn’t around to jump on your laptop or peek over your shoulder.
Be prepared to switch projects or scenes
Once in a while, there’s no getting around it, you just aren’t going to be able to write a steamy scene with Bubble Guppies on in the background. So, be prepared to switch a different scene (if you write non-linearly) or a different project all together. Sometimes, it’s just easier to write the angst scene or the meet-cute than the drunken kiss in the rain scene.
What tricks or tips do you have for writing a scene when the real life mood doesn’t match up?
Hit me up on Twitter @WriterDonaldson and let me know what you think!