"You're a mother. I'm a working father (of 5). So, from one parent to another, do you have any advice for how to generate ideas, and get to the craft despite the clamour that usually attends parenthood?"
First: Do I have any advice on how to generate ideas? I'll deal with the second tomorrow.
Yes, in fact I do. I have this little notebook, it's rather old (two year) but it's one that was fairly expensive for it's size ($16.99 for 5.5inch by 4inch with about 50 pages.) I bought it at a cafe in Prince George literally, the day before I moved up to Whitehorse. It was October 30th and I arrived in Whitehorse the 2nd of November because we got hit by bad weather the whole way up and we were driving a Uhaul. Plus, there were almost no trucks on the road clearing or salting. We got to the newly covered areas before the trucks could. It was disastrous!
But, on to my suggestion. Buy yourself a book that you like to look at and is tough enough to withstand heavy abuse. The pages themselves have to be thick. No more buying those crappy notebooks that you can see the color of your skin through, because they won't hold up-I guarantee it. Worse yet, they won't serve your purpose. If you can't stand the look of your book, or everytime you pull it out to make a note you rip a page, you'll stop using it within the week. Also ensure that your book is about pocket sized.
Some say, "but I don't know if I want to write, so going cheaper is better isn't it?"
No. It isn't. Reason? If you have a crappy experience just trying to keep track of all of your earth-shattering ideas, you'll quickly discard the writing dream too...only, it'll rear it's ugly head everytime you hear a J.K. Rowling story or if someone you know gets published. The cycle begins anew! So, do it right the first time.
What about, "I always lose those books though, and I hate carrying them around?" Well, you have an alternate choice. Ensure you always have paper and pen in your car, in your purse or wallet (you can get some miniature pens/pencils and slip an index card into the cash side of your wallet) and keep your notebook at home. This is what my notebook started out as. It was a repository of all of my ideas. If I had ideas important enough to write them down, I quickly put them into this notebook when I got home at the end of my day.
Eventually you won't be able to live without your notebook because if you plan on going to a cafe to write or to the library to scour sources for ideas you recently had, you'll need your book. Plus, if you begin this little exercise, you'll find that you really do have a ton of ideas. Most people have tons of ideas but we fail to acknowledge them and fail to remember them. Writing them down does this.
You sit at a computer screen and see the blank white screen in front of you. You think, "I want to be a writer, I have great ideas!" You put your hands on the keyboards and type....nothing.
When most people sit down to write, that's not the time to think-it's time to write! So, keep your ideas so that when you sit at that computer you're not wasting time trying to get an idea. Expand on one in your notebook. That way you won't waste a moment!
Tomorrow I will answer the second question which is: As a Parent, what are your suggestions regarding getting time to write amidst all of the other obligations? (See that post Here)