How many times have you sat down to complete a project, only to hear, “Mom”? Although four of my six children have now graduated high school and moved on from that stage, for many years, we had six children who constantly needed something.
I found that completing any task, much less writing, was near impossible. I said, “near impossible”, which means, it is completely doable.
Here are a few strategies that I employed to carve out my writing time. I hope you find at least one or two of them helpful.
1. Make writing a priority.
Writing, for me, is an act of solitude—most days, anyway. I need to be alone in a room with music playing in the background. Life, though, seems to often get in the way. I found that making writing as much of a priority as eating meals and exercising, worked for me. I schedule my time to write, just as I schedule my time to cook dinners for my family. Play dates and Mommy’s helpers come in very handy when you’d like an hour or two of writing time. Schedule them.
2. Reprioritize housework
Does your laundry talk? Mine sure doesn’t. How about your vacuum? Nope, mine doesn’t either. The wonderful thing about housework is that it doesn’t talk back. It cannot tell you that you’ve waited too long to fold the clothes or dust the cabinets. During my writing time, I throw in laundry and change it over from washer to dryer, but then I throw it on a bed and fold it later, when the kids are milling around and playing in the house—in other words, I do my everyday chores when the kids are doing they’re everyday play. The kids don’t miss out on my time, and I don’t miss out on my writing time.
3. Carve out time for yourself
Just as your spouse might need weekends off from his/her job, you will need time off from writing. As a creative person, it’s very important to rejuvenate your mind, let new ideas form, and flesh out your plots. Carving out a little me-time is a great way to accomplish that time off. Me-time can actually be time spent playing with your children, going to dinner with your spouse, or laying in the sun. However you choose to spend your me-time, remember, it’s just as important as the act of writing.
4. Sometimes, electronic babysitters are not all bad.
Everyone knows that letting your children play video games and watch television for several hours each day is not the healthiest thing for them. There are times, though, when you’re wrapping up a scene, or absolutely must outline a chapter, when thirty minutes of watching a parent-approved DVD isn’t a bad thing. Choose your electronic babysitters carefully, but don’t knock them all to the curb. You need your sanity, too.
5. Make writing time a family activity
While most of my writing time is spent in solitude, there are many times that I make writing a family activity with my children. I’ll give them a setting or character and ask them to come up with a story line. While they’re crafting theirs, I craft mine.
6. Beg, plead, and bribe.
I prefer to spend the time when the children are at school writing, but when this cannot happen and I have a deadline, sometimes this shameful ploy comes into play. Not often, and only in times of utter desperation, I will promise something in exchange for 20 minutes of writing time. Shameful, I know, but sometimes a promise of a trip to the park goes a long way.
I hope you can carve out your writing time painlessly, without your family losing out on their time with you, but when those instances occur that simply cannot be avoided, whip out this list and perhaps you’ll find one of these tips helpful.
If you’d like to chat about writing, send me an email: thinkhappygirl (at) yahoo (dot) com
About Melissa Foster:
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and WoMen’s Literary Café, a literary community. Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa has written for Calgary’s Child Magazine, and Women Business Owners Magazine. She hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel, and lives in Maryland with her family.
Article originally written for Surrendered Scribe