Writer Moms: Can We Do Deep Work While the Kids are Home?

Maybe not. But that doesn’t mean we’re shallow.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

What is Deep Work and Who Needs It?

In Deep Work, Cal Newport, author and Georgetown computer science professor, addresses our society’s fragmented attention spans. He presents deep work, “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task,” as an answer to our otherwise frenetic, multitasking-oriented work habits.

A Different Type of Distraction

As someone who’s battled with a cell phone addiction over the past few years, everything about the concept of deep work made sense to me. I know my concentration is fragmented by texting, Instagram and email. I know I have difficulty accessing flow. I know I could get a lot further and deeper into my novel, maybe even finish it before I die, if I could, as Newport suggests, turn off the phone and spend three to four hours a day….five days a week…carefully and without interrupt….MOM!

That Flow, Though

Despite my understanding that, as a stay-at-home mother with small children, I’d have great difficulty finding time for deep work, I still couldn’t shake the notes I’d written on the back of that library receipt. I wanted to figure out how to get flow. I wanted to have more life satisfaction. I continued to read Newport’s newsletter each week, looking for insights and hacks that would get me closer to my writing goals.

Vanishing Solitude

Then the (fairly) unexpected happened. COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. and life as most of us knew it was put on hold. My kids were home all the time and now I was their teacher. I sort of freaked out. I think everyone, including my friend, Cal, sort of freaked out. The frequency of his online newsletter doubled, mostly filled with stories of people digging into his deep work concepts in the time of quarantine.

Acknowledging Reality

This time my cry for help was to Jennie Nash, founder of Author Accelerator, the book coaching company I used to find my book coach, KC Karr, and one of the writers/coaches I’d connected with through the program, Georgina Green.

Functioning Perfectionist. Library Enthusiast. Recovering Lawyer. Stay-at-Home Mom. Not so patiently writing my first novel from five to seven each morning.

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