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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Hire the Kids
by C. Hope Clark
Editor, FundsforWriters.com

Handling children and managing a home writing career is like adding oil to water—they do not mix well. Sometimes you have to shake the bottle a little harder to blend the two together to get those words on paper but the union doesn't last for long. Maybe you need a special ingredient in the mix to make a smoother blend. How about enticing the kids to join your writing team.

Other writing with children advice usually entails occupying the kids in another part of the house, setting strict time schedules, and delineating absolute writing space, but this advice involves drawing them into your world. Hire the kids to work for you. Put them on "your staff."

The only way most children will appreciate what you do, or at least humor and respect you for doing it is to make it meaningful to them. Look at a magazine masthead and scour the employee titles until you find one or two that fit, like "Circulation Director," "Advertising Manager," or "Editorial Associate." Then, depending upon the age of the child, assign the title and a few duties to officially make them a part of your team.

Payment can be anything you like. You may offer simple wages (AKA allowance), a Saturday outing, television on a school night, computer time, or a later bedtime in exchange for their services rendered. Keep the chart clearly defined on the refrigerator for everyone to follow so all hold true to the agreement.

Next step after you settle on payment is to define the duties. If you want to be formal and dramatic about the arrangement, sign a contract with them. By reading what they have to do, understanding the reward, and committing to a signature, they will pay more attention. The little joke just might turn into a "real" job, which might make them stand a little straighter and speak in adult tones. Hold your breath, because it just might work.

Create a nametag, and ID badge, or even business cards depicting their positions. You can do so much with your computer these days, and the cost is pennies for these little supportive tools. Children adore playing adult, and these items really pump up the ego.

Duties have to be genuine, though. Start pretending the employment is fictitious and you ruin the deal. What can these young minds do for you that is worthwhile? Consider these simple tasks:

  • Take out your writing trash. Pick the days this occurs. Be clear in the assignment.

  • Bring you your coffee, tea or soft drink that you sip on while you write. Only require it at a certain time on certain days so it gets to be a habit. You do not want them to come running at the snap of your fingers or you erode their trust by reverting to Mom or Dad instead of remaining the employer.

  • Dust your computer screen once a week.

  • Put postage and return addresses on your submissions. (That will make you submit more articles, won't it?)

  • File your papers. (And that will make you develop an organized filing system.) Mark in the upper corners or post a sticky note on each piece of paper as to which folder you wish it filed.

  • Read over your Web site for errors or broken links.

  • Recycle your magazines and white paper.

Remember to affix frequency, days, and quantity if they fit the assignment. No employee wants duties they cannot decipher. If they clearly understand their tasks, they'll perform.

If you have a writing business such as copywriting, or if you have books to sell, consider using the babes as salespeople. They can actually initiate some sales for you. Pack the little darlings off to school, the movies, camp, or the YMCA with your business cards or coupons for your services or products. Offer the kids affiliate fees for any sales they make. You could even mark the cards or coupons in a special way that identifies which child made the connection with a customer. Teach them to help you. That way when you succeed, they succeed as well. Having measures for success in terms of dollars, sales or jobs acquired does wonders for their self-esteem.

And the best reward of all? They learn to respect you and the work you perform. They begin to realize why you write into the night or wake up before dawn. They understand the hard work required to create a simple magazine submission or a novel synopsis to an agent. Just being around you and amongst your work allows some of its meaning to seep into them until they see why you need your writing time. Suddenly you realize they have evolved from nuisances to your cheerleaders, and their responsibilities have created a mutual respect between you.

©2004 C. Hope Clark and FundsforWriters

C. Hope Clark is a fulltime freelance writer and owner of FundsforWriters.com. Through newsletters, Web site and e-books, she delivers income and grant opportunities to 10,000+ writers. She's published in Writer's Digest, The Writer, Byline Magazine and HOMEBusiness Journal plus many other publications. Watch for her new book The Shy Writer to be released in October 2004. Read more at www.fundsforwriters.com and www.theshywriter.com









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