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Friday, August 26, 2016


Friday Speak Out!: You will do anything to save your kids or your partner, but what about your writing?

by Karen Wojcik Berner

I ran out of the house as my timer blared Sencha signaling the beef burgundy in the crock pot was done. Not boeuf bourguignon mind you, just plain, old Americanized beef burgundy over egg noodles. It was Wednesday, after all. I had twenty minutes to pick up my son from football practice and shove some beef burgundy in my mouth before I retraced the same route back to the high school for Open House Night.

My husband drove while I scanned my son’s schedule, noting every other class was on the second floor. I anticipated a night of running from class to class, covering a school large enough for over 3,000 students, when he uttered words guaranteed to strike fear in my writerly heart.

“I need to work from home more.”


I had just started a new freelance assignment the day before. It was going to be perfect. My son would be gone all day at school. My recent college graduate would be working. My husband would be at the office. The house would be mine again. Mine to structure the schedule. Mine to control the noise level, the vibe, the pace.

“The commute is killing me. I can’t afford to lose two hours a day in the car.”

Over the past sixteen years, literally every time I have begun a new project or a new novel, one (or both) of the kids would get sick, my father would call me every day right as I sat down to write, or my husband would start working from home again, which meant conference calls for the entire day, his voice booming throughout the house, and rendering me incapable of a solid thought without IT terminology creeping into my head.

Every. Single. Time.

My stomach sank. As the most flexible and only female of the group, I usually ended up putting their needs first, and my writing would be pushed aside until it swelled up and I exploded.

After Open House, I vowed this would not happen again. My job was every bit as important as theirs. I would fight for my writing space. I’m sure many of you have been in the same situation. But, how do we do this without World War III breaking out at the dinner table?

Our negotiation is a work-in-progress. Most of the time, he takes the upstairs office to contain the conference call volume, while I work at the kitchen or dining room tables. When I have interviews to do, we switch. Other days, he might go to a local coffeehouse for a few hours, like I did when I was writing my first novel, or he works outside when the weather is good.

The key is negotiation. Remember, your writing is important. Period.

What strategies are in place when you and your partner work from home? How do you deal with managing your time to write?

* * *
Karen Wojcik Berner writes contemporary women’s fiction. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, and Fresh Fiction. She is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. When not writing, she can be found on the sidelines of her youngest’s football or lacrosse games, discussing the Celts with the oldest, or snuggling into a favorite reading chair with a good book and some tea. For more info, please visit
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Blogger Linda said...

Totally feel you on this. Having to learn to be just a little bit selfish and protect my writing time. :)

8:28 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

I can relate! When my husband was out of work and at home for almost a year, we turned the garage into his man cave/office and parked our cars on the street. The man cave doesn't have an entry from the house and it's far enough away that I can't hear him when he's in there, so he had his own uninterrupted space where he'd work during the day while I had the house. When I shut my office door, he was to pretend I was at work away from home. It took him a while, but he ended up respecting my space. :)

Great post, Karen! Thanks for reminding us to put our writing and careers first! It's just as important as anything else.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Sioux said...

Karen--Yes, great reminder. As women/mothers, we're used to making everyone else come before us... and sometimes, WE need to come first.

Kids do it in school and in the park (taking turns to go first). Why shouldn't families?

1:55 PM  
Blogger Karen Wojcik Berner said...

It's difficult some times, but definitely necessary.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks, Angela. Great idea about the man cave. Glad to see you and your husband were able to work it out.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Absolutely! Good point, Sioux.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Sheila Good said...

Boy, can I relate. Schedules? Forget it, especially after your husband retires. I can't count on both hands, the number of times I had one plan (writing) and he comes in with another plan for the day. I do my best to accommodate, after all, we're not spring chickens any longer, but some days - I negotiate. Thanks for the reminder and sharing. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

4:55 AM  
Blogger Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I've heard about all the adjustments after your husband retires. Should be interesting...

8:29 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

Our house is tiny but usually things works out. My writing desk is in a corner of our living room. All is good unless someone wants to watch TV. During times like that I dream of walls and a door.

8:26 AM  

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