Saturday, November 7, 2020

5 Tips For Writing In A Crowded House

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf

I think that for most writers, having a room to themselves where they can work is a dream. I have a book on my shelf with pictures and descriptions of the different places writers work. Some have beautiful views overlooking the ocean or something off a post card. Others work in a room without a window, so they won’t be distracted. Some have impeccably organized desks while others work from piles.

Over on, Kim Bullock wrote a lovely post (here’s the link on the virtues of having your own writing space. 

But, this is 2020, the year of COVID. Many of our kids are doing school online at home. Many of the activities we sent them to in the past are cancelled or limited.

And some of our spouses are now staying home and working virtually. It’s great they don’t have the long commute twice every day. But it makes the house a lot smaller.

This year, even for a lot of empty nesters, our dreams of having our own writing space went up in smoke. Or hand sanitizer. You may be lucky to be able to sit at a table.

Thank the Lord for laptops.

Let me give some tips for writing in a crowded house.

1. Accept chaos. Nobody has been through this before. In most homes, you need to have structure. That’s why we have parents. But there will be mistakes, raw nerves, and unmet needs or wants. There will be schedules that overlap or someone forgets an appointment. Have grace. With others and with yourself. 

2. Forget writing in long chunks of time. It is great to be able to lose yourself in your writing. Ahh, a writer’s nirvana. Ain’t going to happen in a crowded house. Someone is going to want wifi, help with a math problem, or a cookie. It’s just going to happen. So, instead of trying to set aside three hours, write in the minutes when it’s quiet.

3. Go outside. Don’t spend all day inside, especially now that the days are shorter. (Grrr) Take your writing outside. You may need to take a blanket. Of course, I just saw where Denver went from snow to 70 degrees inside a week. And at least once, send the kiddos outside.

4. Look at the long term. As we see in Ecclesiastes, this is just for a season. Maybe a rocky season, but it will pass. And the kids will be gone. I know you are in the chaos now, but, occasionally, remember to look around and enjoy the blessings God has given you. Even if you do want to strangle them. Which brings us to the last tip.

5. Laugh at the craziness of it all. This is a weird year. All of our routines, habits, and schedules have been tossed into the air. Nobody could plan for this or see what the ramifications would be when we first heard of the virus in March.

Our leaders, our families, and our friends are just trying to get through this the best we can. It’s one thing to have to hunt through three states to find toilet paper, it’s another when you are looking at cancelling Thanksgiving and Christmas. (No. Christmas will never be cancelled. Just some of the parties.)

This year is crazy. It is stressful. And scary. And it hasn’t stopped. For any of us. Laugh when you can. Cry when you need to. Seek a virtual shoulder when it becomes too much. And be a virtual shoulder whenever you can.

As much as no one could foresee a year like this, 2020 did not sneak up and surprise God. He knows what you and I are going through. He’s here with us. He has already placed the Lifesavers in line for when we need them. I can’t wait until all this mess is over and we can see where God stepped into our lives for each of us.


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. “Laugh when you can. Cry when you need to. Seek a virtual shoulder when it becomes too much. And be a virtual shoulder whenever you can.”

    This was worth the price of admission. Thank you, Tim.

  2. Thank you! Much needed advise.

  3. Loved this, Tim! Lot of wisdom packed into this post. Thanks!

  4. Good reminder, good perspective. Thanks, Tim!

  5. Great post, as usual, Tim. Thanks.
    Jay Wright; Anderson

  6. Great post Tim, thank you and God bless you brother.