Regular reader Jer of From Methods to Madness (don’t you love that title?) recently asked me an interesting question:
I am also a mom--I have two young kids--and an aspiring author. Lately I’ve felt really discouraged about not being able to find enough time to write. I've been working on my current WIP for over a year now and only have about 5,600 words to show for it. I’m always amazed and a little envious when you post about the progress of your WIPs. You seem to whip those first drafts out so quickly! So my question for you is…what’s your secret? Since I struggle to find the time, I’m genuinely curious about how other mother-writers do it.
The truth is, I struggle with this as much as anyone. Finding the right balance between husband, kids, housework, and writing is tricky, and I’m constantly finding myself having to readjust. But I do have a few thoughts.
In the spirit of providing as much information as possible and hoping that one or two useful tidbits crop up, here’s a look at my normal weekday routine:
6:30 a.m. Run, shower (on those mornings I run), read some blogs
8:00 a.m. Dress the kids, eat breakfast, play
10:00 a.m. Put Lady down for a nap, shower (if I haven’t already), do housework
12:00 p.m. Eat lunch, play
2:00 p.m. Put both kids down for a nap, WRITE
4:30 p.m. Play, chill with Honey Bear, make dinner, eat it, play some more
8:00 p.m. Put the kids to bed, WRITE (while Honey Bear does homework)
My kids’ superpower is sleeping, so they (almost) always give me a decent chunk of writing time in the afternoons and evenings. And Honey Bear has been working on a master’s degree for the past two years--and is planning to start an EdD this fall--so he (almost) always has homework to do. In short, my life has been marvelously conducive to writing ever since I-gots was born, and I’ve taken advantage of that.
So what am I going to do once I-gots stops napping and my husband runs out of letters to add to the end of his name? I don’t know. Find a new normal, I guess, as my mother-in-law likes to say. Readjust.
But as for specifics, I have found a few habits to be helpful in turning a work-in-limbo into a work-in-progress.
First, write a little every day (or almost every day). Even if you only write a page or two, in less than a year you’ll have a good-sized first draft. There is no substitute for slow, steady effort, methinks.
Second, limit Internet time. I don’t think it’s a good idea to cut the Internet out altogether (except when you’re trying to reach a specific goal in a specific amount of time, maybe), because, if you’re anything like me, your willpower will fail you sooner or later and you’ll go on a three-hour Internet binge that will leave you feeling spineless and miserably unproductive. Also, the Internet is a great tool for connecting with other writers and agents and building your brand, both of which are essential for the twenty-first-century writer. You just can't let the Internet take over your writing time.
(It’s kind of stupid, but whenever I find myself spending too much time online, I stop, visualize receiving the much-sought-after Call--or, heaven forbid, that elusive Book Deal--and remember that I have to keep writing if I ever want to live that moment for real:) )
Now, after all that, I want to finish by saying that as important as writing is, some things are even more important. Like my husband. And my kids. A wise man once said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home,” and I firmly believe that. In the end, it really is all about balance.
So what is your writing regimen like? And how do you keep everything in its proper place?